Still Wondering, Still Worrying

December is always a time for reflecting on the events of the past 11 months and planningfor the next 12. This time, things are a little different.

Our expectations are lower than they?ve been in years past,and our worries are growing as we read news accounts about a Congress thatcan?t make decisions about our country?s future, an economy that seemsperpetually stalled in neutral, a Middle East constantly on the verge ofexploding and a European debt crisis that threatens to topple the globaleconomy.

After surviving the past three very tough years, we?re allhopeful that our fates and fortunes?and those of our families, friends andcompanies?will improve significantly in 2012. But many of us are undoubtedlyconcerned that things won?t be much better next year.

Despite any misgivings you may have, those of you whoparticipated in our annual ?Top 10? trends survey seem primed to maketechnology decisions that will give your businesses a fighting chance tosucceed in 2012. We want to thank you for your input, which enabled us toproduce a report that?s based on facts?your facts?not our opinions. (See ?2012Top 10 Business Trends?.)

While some of these trends were expected, some surprised us.We did expect that tablet PCs would show dramatic growth, but we didn?t thinkit would be the No. 1 trend for next year, with half of you expecting toincrease investments in tablets.

On a personal level, we?re pleased that business use oftablets is taking off because you will start receiving digital versions of Baseline on a monthly basis next yearinstead of print. Starting with the January issue, you?ll be able to read us onyour tablet, as well as on your PC and smartphone. (Turn to page 4 for moredetails about our new direction and how it will benefit you.)

Another surprise was the No. 2 trend: technology?sincreasing role in marketing. Both user demand and support from the financedepartment for CRM and social communications are expected to increase sharplynext year.

The recession undoubtedly made businesses more aware of theneed to interact with their customers more often and in a variety of ways thatwork best for them.

Republic Services is a good example. ?We want the customersto dictate how they communicate and interact with us,? Director of IT DougSaunders told Research Director Guy Currier. ?It?s not just phone callsanymore; it?s video.?

Though security moved from No. 1 last year to No. 8 in thisyear?s survey, there is ?a continuing high investment level in security and therelated areas of business continuity,? according to Guy, who wrote: ?A highproportion of organizations we surveyed expect significant deployments in2012.? In fact, 53 percent of the respondents expect significant securitydeployments next year, and 37 percent anticipate significant businesscontinuity deployments.

So why was security only No. 8? Because investments havealready been substantial, so the acceleration predicted for 2012 is not asgreat as it is in some of the other technologies.

We weren?t surprised that the consumerization of IT made thetop 10 (in the No. 9 slot)?and you probably aren?t either. Whether or notyou?re a fan, you know that smartphones and tablets have invaded corporateAmerica this year, and the invasion is sure to escalate in 2012.

?The consumerization of IT goes well beyond BYOD [bring yourown device] and extends to mobile apps, the cloud and social tools,? PhilGarland of consultancy PwC told Baseline.

Speaking of clouds, the development of customized clouds wasthe No. 7 trend, with one development standing out: platform as a service,?cloud-based programming of custom cloud applications or of cloudarchitecture.? The use of PaaS is expected to nearly double from 2011 to 2012.

?While other forms of cloud computing will remain morecommon,? Guy wrote, ?none is growing as quickly as PaaS.?

We hope you?ll find our top trends story of value as youplan your own 2012 technology investments. We also hope that you?ll watch youremail in mid-January for a link to our new digital edition. And, please, let usknow what you think of our ?green? and interactive Baseline.

Happy holidays!