Maribel Lopez, Contributor
Businesses faces a dynamic landscape where both customer and employee demands are changing. The world is changing, and there are three market shifts that are driving this change – mobile social and cloud. These trends change what we connect, how we connect and how we transact.
Obviously mobile is changing what is connected. We are moving beyond laptops and smartphones. It’s moving to billions of connected devices as we connect tablets, cars, machinery and medical equipment. Ericcson and Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 as we look to add sensors in just about everything. These devices can be as sophisticated as a tablet or as simple as a sensor that monitors humidity.
We’ve discussed consumerization of IT for years. It’s happening and its not all bad. Consumers are now willing to buy their own devices and bring them into the workplace – and this is the year that CIOs embrace this trend. As a result, companies can move from 15% of the employees being mobile to over 80%. So clearly mobile is changing what we connect in terms of devices and in terms of corporate supported assets.
In addition to what we connect, mobile also changes how businesses connected. Not only are devices changing, but the software landscape is changing as well. It’s the first time in roughly 15 years that anyone has considered using an OS other than MSFT’s as a foundation for software. There are at least four major contenders in the battle for the next-generation OS. I’m sure we could debate the winners and loser for hours but the end result is the same. The software landscape will fundamentally change. Existing enterprise apps will be rebuilt to operate over multiple operating systems. Apps will be screen adaptable and network aware. And most importantly, new apps will be designed with mobile first in mind. The emergence of these new post PC apps will change who our IT vendors are. Perhaps it’s Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. However, this isn’t guaranteed, which means at least $450B in software market cap may shift to new vendors as we make this transition. Advances in the mobile web mean that some companies are now considering writing full applications that run entirely in the Web.
The second trend, social combines with mobile to change how businesses engage with its customers and employees. Social is changing the way firms market and deliver customer service. But social isn’t something that is reserved for consumers. Social software is changing our enterprise collaboration tools and its changing engagement within business apps such as CRM. Game mechanics are being used in retail for B2C but also in business environments for rewards.
Finally, cloud and virtualization are changing the fundamental infrastructure of a business. Cloud adds new computing models that changes storage and processing. CIOs are looking at network virtualization, not just VPNs, but also the opportunity to decouple network services from the underlying physical hardware. IT is evaluating what lives on premise versus off-premise as many firms opt to move to a hybrid cloud environment. Cloud services provides a test and development environment for new apps and has opened the floodgates for new software innovation as well as new pricing and distribution models with SaaS.
On one hand, mobile-social-cloud empower businesses by allowing employees to access corporate data anywhere and improve communication with better social collaborative tools. On the other, IT is overwhelmed by security, compliance and rapid change. It’s no surprise virtualization strategies and mobilizing the business topped the list of IT leader concerns for 2012. In fact, over 60% of the firms we surveyed had these items top of mind.
We are at the beginning of the next twenty years of IT evolution. These trends will combine to create the biggest technology shift since the Internet. Successful companies will use these technologies to transform the business. I look forward to watching the change unfold.