Trends 9 and 10By Guy Currier | Posted 2010-12-09 Email Print
Security is big, hyped technologies get gut checks, and promising ones roll full-steam ahead. Our third annual market survey of the technology trends shows what managers and executives see for the year ahead.
9 End Users Gain More Control
Where there’s challenge, there’s opportunity, or so the old trope goes. Surely the idea of masses of end-users managing their corporate computing environments could send an IT manager running for the hills. But one fascinating trend that bubbled up in our study last year, but didn’t make it into the list until this year, is end-user centricity as an IT management technique. (See chart 9)
How’s that, you ask? Won’t decentralization of technology into the hands of the (usually untrained) masses lead inevitably to lack of control? Well, it really depends on what gets decentralized.
Management and control can continue in the back office, as applications are built, tested and vetted. Users, in turn, can install and run when needed—especially in mobile environments. Client monitoring and application management systems round out the strategy so that wildcat client applications can be identified and contained.
One area in which both management and users are working together is in social networks. Employees are allowed—or even encouraged—to participate in social networking sites to increase interaction with customers and enhance brand recognition. Management, in turn, develops policies and procedures to ensure those interactions generate positive results for the business.
Varsity, a Memphis-based cheerleading/dance apparel and instructional-clinic company, wanted to expand globally, but first it needed to take control of its e-commerce execution—its brands were scattered in various e-storefronts—and make better use of social networking sites.
Using IBM’s WebSphere Commerce solution enabled the company to route all customers to a central Varsity Web location, where all brands are represented. It also increased the use of “share” features during product sales, so customers can spread the word about products they like on Facebook and other social sites.
“We have 240,000 fans on Facebook, and we wanted to do a better job of connecting to our social-media audience,” says Shannon Ahern, executive director of e-commerce for Varsity. With this solution, management can get more of its products into the flow of the conversations taking place on social networking sites, and employees and managers can make better decisions based on what customers are saying.
10 Unified Communications Starts to Show Life
We don’t want to get too enthusiastic, but all signs are pointing to a revival, finally, in this long-promised merging of disparate corporate digital streams. This year was a fallow year for unified communications (UC), doubtless because the up-front investment can be great, and the current economic environment demands quick returns.
But comparing this year’s survey results to last year’s, we see an increase in expected UC deployments coming. (See chart 10) And the benefits, certainly, are likely to be significant in the long term.
Penske (see trend 8 earlier in the story) has invested heavily in UC tools from a number of vendors, including Avaya, Cisco and NEC. “These tools allow us to run our businesses with our Verizon devices,” says Pickett. “We can access our voice mail, e-mail and desktop data as if we were in the office.
“The drivers and crew chiefs will use it too, because they’re constantly on the track or out and about, and they depend on their handhelds. With unified communications, you can get all you need in one place.” "
How We Conducted the Research
A multiple-choice questionnaire was fielded by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research from August 26 to October 6, 2010, asking those involved in technology decisions at their organizations what expectations they had at their companies in 2011 for 46 technology and IT strategy areas. Responses were collected from 386 managers and higher titles in organizations with at least 100 employees: 129 in firms with 100 to 499 employees, 123 in firms with 500 to 4,999 employees, and 134 in firms with 5,000 or more employees.
Of the 386 respondents, 104 had vice president or higher titles, 95 had director titles and 151 had manager titles. Several questions were asked of this group about each technology and IT strategy area to gauge the relative strength of each, as well as to understand the chief factors that might be driving or potentially hindering it. The trends covered in this story are the 10 that received the strongest results because of widespread adoption, intense (highly committed) adoption or both.
Guy Currier is executive director of research at Ziff Davis Enterprise. Dennis McCafferty also contributed to this article.