Top 10 Business Trends for 2012

 
 
By Guy Currier  |  Posted 2011-12-07
 
 
 

Most trends lists are created by “experts“ who brainstorm, discuss, and argue until they reach a consensus as to what the big topics and market developments are going to be. Baseline decided a few years ago to make primary research the foundation of its annual trends report.

By asking several hundred business and technology managers at North American organizations with 100 or more employees to tell us what’s going on in their workplaces, we get representative viewpoints that provide objective, proof-driven insight into what the stories will be in the coming year.

In October, we fielded our survey to 422 of these managers, across all sectors in the United States and Canada. We asked them about their technology investments, strategies and commitment levels; the degree to which those levels might rise or fall; and the support levels from various stakeholders (IT, users, executives and finance professionals).

What we didn’t ask survey respondents about was “trends,” per se, because it’s the aggregate of the individual players in a market that constitutes a trend. Our analysis is based on what respondents know most about: what’s going on in their own organizations. That’s how we determined the top 10 trends for this article.

We have a sound basis for selecting these trends and provide an impartial way to compare the strength of each trend against the others. In a few cases, we’ll highlight trends that few others are seeing or indicate where the buzz of today is going to fade tomorrow.

To accomplish this, our analysis of the research results doesn’t look only at what’s popular or even what’s growing—though it does begin with that. To have “buzz,” a trend has to have highly accelerated growth.

So, for example, you might be surprised to see that virtualization didn’t make the list for 2012. Virtualization’s strong growth and popularity has remained stable in our study for three years, but this year’s survey results showed that 2012 will be a “steady-on” year for virtualization, not a buzz year, so it’s not listed as a top trend.

Meanwhile, a trend first hyped several years ago—unified communications (UC)—didn’t make our trends list until last year, at No. 10, where we said it was “finally showing signs of life.” This year, as part of a broader trend in communications, it’s reached the No. 4 position. We were able to hold off on including this technology three years ago because our data showed it hadn’t reached the tipping point. Last year, UC did, and, this year, it’s coming on strong.

 

How Last Year’s Predictions Fared

In “The Top 10 Tech Trends of 2011” (Baseline, November/December 2010), we did pretty well with our forecast, with six real hits and only one clear miss. Our favorite hits include “End Users Gain More Control,” predicted long before all the current buzz on consumerization; “VDI Adoption Takes a Breath,” which at the time we published, wasn’t really imagined; and “BI Trumps Crowdsourcing,” which turned out to be true in a big way. Our miss? “Interest in Cloud Computing Refocuses on SaaS,” which was No. 6. SaaS adoption has certainly continued, but all the buzz has been elsewhere.

 

Predictions for 2012 (click on links for more information)

Trend 1:  Tablet Computing Experiences Remarkable Growth

Trend 2:  The Marketing Tech Revolution

Trend 3:  Network and Wireless Build-Out

Trend 4:  Advanced Communications

Trend 5:  Business Intelligence and Big Data

Trend 6:  IT Strategies Shift Toward Revenue Growth

Trend 7:  Development of the Customized Cloud

Trend 8:  Security Investments Remain Strong

Trend 9:  The Consumerization of IT Continues

Trend 10:  Hardware Investment Continues

 

To download a PDF of our Top 10 Business Trends for 2012, click here.