Friday, December 30

Trending Technology: The Deloitte Study, Part 2

For the last three years, Deloitte has published its annual "Tech Trends" report to identify what areas will have the most impact on CIOs in the coming year and beyond. The predictions are based on insights from Deloitte's technology subject matter specialists. 

This year, Deloitte split its list into two parts, "(re)emerging enablers" and "disruptive deployments." We discussed their five "(re)emerging enablers" in part 1. This post focuses in on the "disruptive deployments," which may even be more important in the year ahead.

Deloitte defines disruptive deployments as trends that showcase new business models and transformative ways to operate. In many cases, I believe that Deloitte is right that these will be among the leading trends in 2012. But, at the same time, I think most of them send organizations in the wrong direction.

Five Areas Deloitte Predicts Businesses Will Focus On In 2012.

Social Business. The emergence of boomers as digital natives and the rise of social media in daily life have paved the way for social business in the enterprise. This is leading organizations to apply social technologies on social networks, amplified by social media, to fundamentally reshape how business gets done.  Some of the initial successful use cases are consumer-centric, but business value is available — and should be realized — across the enterprise. 

The concept of a social business has always been a bit of a misnomer. Successful businesses were often social until technology made it possible for them to be less social — replacing human interaction with automated phone systems and online shopping carts. Social networks merely bring people back into the equation with a twist on how we define social interaction (but there is no guarantee it is social, given how many automate their social media presence). Being a social business isn't the real answer. It's being an empathetic business that will deliver the edge. You have to understand and care about people.

Hyper-hybrid Cloud. Cloud-based and cloud-aware integration offerings are expected to continue to evolve, and many organizations face a hybrid reality with a mix of on-premise solutions and multiple cloud offerings. The challenge becomes integration, identity management and data translation between the core and multitenant public cloud offerings, and offering lightweight orchestration for processes traversing enterprise and cloud assets. 

The concept of a hyper-hybrid cloud is intriguing and perhaps not as difficult to program as one might think. Layering the public and internal cloud systems, provided the programmers have strategic direction to identify the right data as well as the ability to categorize that data, seems like a workable solution. But beyond that, as I mentioned in the earlier post, the data needs to be visually dynamic and accessible across the entire business. Currently, most businesses have too many gatekeepers between the information and the people who need it.

Enterprise Mobility Unleashed. Mobility is helping many organizations rethink their business models. Consumer-facing mobile applications are only the beginning. With the explosion of mobile use cases, organizations should make sure solutions are enterprise class – secure, reliable, maintainable and integrated to critical back-off systems and data. 

Everybody loves to talk about mobile and how it is changing everything. But mobile isn't what businesses ought to think about for 2012 (even though most of them will). Executives need to appreciate that there is no longer a barrier between mobile and non-mobile, broadcast and digital, etc. and etc. Where the trend is right, however, is that organizations need to be even more careful in developing secure, reliable, maintainable and critical back-off systems. Maybe the real question to ask is why there needed to be a so-called mobile migration to convince an organization to think of this stuff.

Gamification. Serious gaming simulations and game mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements and skill-based learning are becoming embedded in day-to-day business processes, driving adoption, performance and engagement.

Gamification has become a bigger buzzword than social business this year. Expect the trend to continue, even if it is a short-term solution that will eventually fade away. Chasing carrots is fun for awhile until people eventually grow tired of it and give up all together. Ask the people who know: game designers. Unless you are continually committed to upgrading the game, people will lose interest in what has become the most shallow level of participatory praise ever conceived.

User Empowerment. User engagement remains a key doctrine for enterprise IT with consumerization setting expectations for solutions built from the user down, not the system up.  Compounding the need, IT is becoming increasingly democratized, with empowered end users able to directly source solutions from the cloud or app stores -- on a mobile device and increasingly on the desktop. 

There is certainly a trend in this direction, even though most organizations would be better served by finding the balance between system and user solutions. The best businesses will provide a baseline operating model (based in part on existing user interface knowledge) and then allow participantd to provide feedback that can be vetted for inclusion (or not). The concept isn't limited to systems. It means everything. Recently, I reviewed a steady cam innovator that did this brilliantly. Consumers asked for a different color and the ability to use the steady cam with an iPhone, but the developers came up with the solution based on their existing design.

Deloitte did an excellent job pinpointing what are all likely trends next year (even if most of them were introduced this year). So there are two ways to look at the research: these are the topics you will need to be up to speed on in 2012 if you aren't already. Or, if you are charged with making CIO decisions for your company, you might consider leapfrogging to what comes next.

Those are summaries of the first five predictions from Deloitte, along with our field notes. If you are interested in seeing their 64-page study, you can find it here. If you would like to discuss some of our observations in depth, drop a note in the comments or reach out direct any time. Happy New Year!
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