No matter what industry you're in, your company can't survive without technology. From smart phones and tablets 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.
To stay competitive, your organization needs to anticipate the most significant technology trends that are shaping your business and changing your customer, and then develop innovative ways to use them to your advantage, both inside and outside of your organization. Remember, if it can be done, it will be done. If you don't use these technologies to create a competitive advantage, someone else will.
Over the next five short years the following game-changing technologies will transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, innovate, and much more.
1. Big Data Gets Bigger and Becomes a Service. Big Datais a term to describe the technologies and techniques used to capture and utilize the exponentially increasing streams of datawith the goal ofbringing enterprise-wide visibility and insights to make rapid critical decisions. Companies are learning the hard way that Big Bad Data can get you into trouble fast, so there is a new push to focus on the quality of the data as it is being captured. High Speed Analytics using advanced cloud services 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.Big Data as-a-Service (BDaaS) will emerge this year as cloud providers offer midsize and smaller organizations access to much larger streams of relevant data they could not tap into otherwise.
2. Cloud Computing Gets Personal 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 use Google Docs or Apple's iCloud). Then we saw more private clouds giving companies the security and limited access they needed, as well as hybrid clouds that provided both, giving customers and consumers access to specific areas of a company's cloud. Companies of all sizes are using the cloud to cut costs in IT, human resources, and sales management functions. As individuals increasingly usepersonal mobile clouds, we will see a shift to services and less of a focus on the devices we use to access our services. This shift will also help us address the three limiting factors of mobility: battery life, memory, and processors.
3. On Demand Services will increasingly be offered to companies needing to rapidly deploy new services. Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is increasinglyjoining Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), creating what some have called "IT as a service." The rapid growth ofCollaboration-as-a-Service (CaaS), Security-as-a-Service (SaaS), Networking as-a-Service (NaaS), and many more are all giving birth to Everything as-a-Service (XaaS). All will grow rapidly for small as well as large companies, 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 departments in all industries will be increasingly freed to focus on enabling business process transformation, which will allow organizations to maximize their return on their 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. In addition to storage, 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 consumers become the driving source for innovation and technology, which is fueled by rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Smart companies have recognized that this is a hard trend that will continue and have stopped fighting consumerization. Instead, they are turning it 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. Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) will take off this year as wearable technology goes mainstream with big players launching smart watches, smart glasses, and more, creating new problems as well as opportunities for organizations of all sizes. Over the past few years,Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) caught many IT departments by surprise; it's now time to get in front of this this predictable hard trend and turn it into an advantage.
7. Gameification of Training and Education will acceleratea fast-moving hard trend ofusing 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 both old and new versions of Xbox and PlayStation. A social component that includes sharing will drive success.
8. Online Learning and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been embraced by highly recognized and traditional educational institutions, putting them in a position to challenge all educational systems by making Location and Tuition far less of a barrier to receiving the information, training, and knowledge people need to know in order to succeed in a rapidly changing world. This hard trend, combined with Gameification systems, will change the face of global education.
9. eBooks, eNewspapers, eMagazines and Interactive Multimedia eTextbooks are finallypassing the tipping pointdue to the abundance of smart phones and tablets that provide a full color experience, and publishers providing apps that give a better-than-paper experience by including cut, copy, paste, print, and multimedia capabilities. Interactive eTextbooks will finally take off thanks to easy-to-use software such as Apple's iBook Author and other competing tools, freeing new publishers to create compelling and engaging content, and freeing students from a static, expensive, and literally heavy experience.
10. Social Business Applications take 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 Searchand Social Analytics 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.
11. Smart Phones & Tablets Get Smarter with the rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. Smart phones have already become our primary personal computer, and the Mobile Web hasbecomea must-have capability. An Enterprise Mobility Strategy Becomes 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 and connectivity by many millions around the world will allow any size business to transform how they market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, and innovate using mobility.
12. Mobile Apps for Business Processes such as purchasing, supply chain, logistics, distribution, service, sales, maintenance, and more will grow rapidly. There will be an increasing focus on Business App Stores within companies giving users access to personalized information they need on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere.
Later this week, I will share the other 13 game-changing technology-driven trends to complete my Top 25 list. In the meantime, think about the 12 Hard Trends I've given you and how you can adapt them to your unique environment before the competition does.