The Top 20 Technology Driven Trends for 2012

No matter what industry you’re in, your company can’t survive without technology. And these days, even non-technical employees know that technology goes way beyond desktop computers and networks. From smart phones and tablet computers to mobile apps and cloud-based technology, there’s a plethora of technological advancements to not only keep track of, but also to profit from.

Therefore, as a CIO, it’s up to you to anticipate the future technology trends that are shaping your business and then develop innovative ways to implement them in your organization.

Now that 2012 is well underway, be ready for the following 20 technology-driven trends to continue to create both disruption and opportunity in the business world. But rather than just react to them, be “pre-active” to future known events and plan how you’ll profit from them now. That’s the only way you’ll gain competitive advantage and become viewed as both a strategy creator and enabler within your company.

So here are the Top 20 tech trends I think you should be aware of this year:

1) Rapid growth of Big Data, a term used to describe the technologies and techniques used to capture and utilize the exponentially increasing streams of data with the goal of bringing enterprise-wide visibility and insights to make rapid critical decisions, will usher in high speed analytics (HSA). Using advanced cloud services, HSA will increasingly be used as a complement to existing information management systems and programs to tame the massive data explosion. This new level of data integration and analytics will require many new skills and cross-functional buy-in in order to break down the many data and organizational silos that still exist. The rapid increase in data makes this a fast growing hard trend that cannot be ignored.

2) Cloud computing and advanced cloud services will be increasingly embraced by business of all sizes, as this represents a major shift in how organizations obtain and maintain software, hardware, and computing capacity. As consumers, we first experienced public clouds (think about when you first used Google or Apple’s MobileMe and now iCloud). Then we saw more private clouds and hybrid clouds from businesses such as Flextronics, Siemens, Accenture, and many others, all using the cloud to cut costs in human resources and sales management functions. This was only the beginning, as cloud services enable the rapid transformation all business processes.

3) On Demand Services will increasingly be offered to companies needing to rapidly deploy new services. Hardware as a service (HaaS) joins Software as a Service (SaaS), creating what some have called “IT as a service” (ITaaS). All will grow rapidly with many new players in a multitude of business process categories. These services will help companies cut costs as they provide access to powerful software programs and the latest technology without having the expense of a large IT staff and time-consuming, expensive upgrades. As a result, IT will be increasingly freed to focus on enabling business process transformation, which will allow organizations to maximize their return on technology investments.

4) Virtualization of storage, desktops, applications, and networking will see continued acceptance and growth by both large and small businesses as virtualization security improves. We will continue to see the virtualization of processing power, allowing mobile devices to access supercomputer capabilities and apply it to processes such as purchasing and logistics, to name a few.

5) Consumerization of IT increases as the source for innovation and technology continues to be driven by the consumer thanks to rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Smart companies have recognized that this is a hard tend that will continue and have stopped fighting consumerization. Instead, they are turning this trend into a competitive advantage by consumerizing their applications, such as recommending safe and secure third party hardware and apps. Encouraging employees to share productivity enhancing consumer technology will become a wise strategy.

6) Gameification of training and education will fuel a fast moving hard trend using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like, and competitive — all focused on giving the user an immersive experience thanks to a photo-realistic 3D interface. Some will develop software using these gaming techniques to work on existing hardware systems such as the Xbox and PlayStation. A social component of gameification that includes sharing will drive success.

7) Social business takes on a new level of urgency as organizations shift from an Information Age “informing” model to a Communication Age “communicating and engaging” model. Social software for business will reach a new level of adoption with applications to enhance relationships, collaboration, networking, social validation, and more. Social search will increasingly be used by marketers and researchers, not to mention Wall Street, to tap into millions of daily tweets and Facebook conversations, providing real-time analysis of many key consumer metrics.

8) Smartphones and tablets will become our primary personal computers, and the mobile Web will become a must-have capability. This means an enterprise mobility strategy will become mandatory for all size organizations as we see mobile data, mobile media, mobile sales, mobile marketing, mobile commerce, mobile finance, mobile payments, mobile health, and many more explode. The vast majority of mobile phones sold globally will have a browser, making the smart phone our primary computer that is with us 24/7 and signaling a profound shift in global computing. This new level of mobility will allow any size business to transform how they market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, and innovate using mobility.

9) Tablet computers with enterprise level Web apps will be used to transform sales and service support and then move to purchasing, logistics, just-in-time training, and much more.

10) Intelligent electronic agents using natural language voice commands take off with Apple’s Siri, rapidly followed by Android, Microsoft, and others all offering what will become a mobile electronic concierge on your smart devices including your phone, tablet, and television. Soon retailers will have a Siri-like sales assistant, and maintenance workers will have a Siri-like assistant. The possibilities are endless.