Top 10 Business Trends for 2012

Most trends lists are created by ?experts? whobrainstorm, discuss, and argue until they reach a consensus as to what the bigtopics and market developments are going to be. Baseline decided a few years ago to make primary research thefoundation of its annual trends report.

By asking several hundred business and technology managersat North American organizations with 100 or more employees to tell us what?sgoing on in their workplaces, we get representative viewpoints that provideobjective, proof-driven insight into what the stories will be in the comingyear.

In October, we fielded our survey to 422 of these managers,across all sectors in the United States and Canada. We asked them about theirtechnology investments, strategies and commitment levels; the degree to whichthose levels might rise or fall; and the support levels from variousstakeholders (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 thatconstitutes 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 10trends for this article.

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

To accomplish this, our analysis of the research resultsdoesn?t look only at what?s popular or even what?s growing?though it does beginwith that. To have ?buzz,? a trend has to have highly accelerated growth.

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

Meanwhile, a trend first hyped several years ago?unifiedcommunications (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 abroader trend in communications, it?s reached the No. 4 position. We were ableto hold off on including this technology three years ago because our datashowed 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 ourforecast, 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 onconsumerization; ?VDI Adoption Takes a Breath,? which at the time we published,wasn?t really imagined; and ?BI Trumps Crowdsourcing,? which turned out to betrue 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 hasbeen 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