PPM, Video CollaborationBy Samuel Greengard Print
In 2009, these technologies can provide companies with a competitive advantage in what is expected to be a very tough year on the bottom lines of IT budgets, IT management and IT vendors. However, even in an economic downturn those companies that invest, develop and capitalize on technologies that save money while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business have an opportunity to grab significant market and mind share with new and existing customers.
9. Project Management and Project Portfolio Management
In today’s time-sensitive and budget-conscious world, getting projects finished on time is paramount. Not surprisingly, more and more organizations are turning to structured systems and software to track all the details. Consequently, project management (PM) and project portfolio management (PPM) have moved into the spotlight.
“Many businesses are turning to more formal tools,” says Jeff Oltmann, principal at Synergy Professional Services, a Portland, Ore.-based consulting firm. “They are hoping to work in a more iterative yet structured way.”
Within the project management space, many organizations are migrating from spreadsheets and e-mail to formal applications that track timelines, budgets, messages, key documents and much more. Microsoft, Intellisys, OpenMind, AtTask and others are adding document-management features, collaboration tools, business-process rules support, advanced reporting capabilities and governance tools in response to organizations that “need better information [focusing on] resource utilization—including time, dollars and people,” says Mike Notarius, CTO for the Information Technology Exchange Center of the State University of New York (SUNY). Organizations “need to be able to analyze the impact of decisions quickly,” he adds.
Meanwhile, PPM is evolving and bringing greater order to business-level decision making. Applications such as Daptiv PPM and Primavera (recently purchased by Oracle) are providing tools to mesh diverse workgroups, such as finance, marketing, human resources and IT—all while viewing groups of initiatives, conducting detailed analyses on them, and understanding the underlying relationships across organizational roles and teams.
As organizations embrace PPM, Synergy’s Oltmann says, they are becoming far better equipped to react to rapidly changing business and industry conditions. “At this point, it is important for IT to develop PM and PPM expertise,” he says. “These started as business initiatives, but they have become a crucial part of IT.”
10. Web and Video Collaboration
Not so long ago, the idea of a workgroup collaborating over the Web was unthinkable. Over the last few years, however, applications like WebEx and NetMeeting have revolutionized the way people interact—at least within some companies and in certain situations.
Today, collaboration tools are poised to go mainstream and further change the way business is conducted. According to the Boston-based research firm Aberdeen Group, 63 percent of companies say they will be using videoconferencing and so-called telepresence systems (essentially, a form of videoconferencing with high-quality images and audio) by the end of 2010. Only 18 percent say they have no plans to adopt these systems.
Driving this phenomenon are bigger pipes and converged data and voice networks within enterprises. “Organizations are beginning to realize that collaborative applications can serve as a significant competitive advantage,” observes Bojan Simic, a research analyst in the Network and Application Performance Management Group at the Aberdeen Group. “The technology has the ability to shift the balance of power. Many organizations are turning to these applications for their mission-critical activities.”
Video and telepresence are also growing more sophisticated. For example, Cisco has introduced a telepresence system that generates high-definition, life-size images on one or more video screens. Using high-fidelity audio and sophisticated lighting, it creates the impression of talking to someone in the same room.
Other vendors are marrying conferencing and collaboration with Web 2.0. KZO offers a system that creates up to a six-way conference without charge and requires only a Web browser. It also allows keyword tagging and provides for live comments from people watching the video.
Meanwhile, the mobile-video market is also gaining momentum. In-Stat, a market research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., predicts that 160 million devices for viewing mobile video (not including mobile phones) will be sold over the next five years.
“We are entering a new era of video and Web collaboration,” predicts Simic of the Aberdeen Group.
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