The new year has brought a revolution in business technologies that allows enterprises to roll out new applications, processes and services in record time. What used to take a business six months to a year to develop and deploy – and not too long ago that was considered fast! – can now be done in a week or two, making enterprise application and business intelligence deployments of the recent past seem more like ancient history.
Businesses can thank five new technologies for this: business collaboration; social media; analytics; business mobility; and cloud computing. Perhaps the most important of these is what I call business mobility technologies – that is, smart phones and tablet computers. In 2011, businesses can deploy an Apple iPad, rent new analytics and collaboration applications as part of a software as a service (SaaS) offered in the cloud, configure and load initial systems within days, and introduce new advancements within a week. This cycle time validates a point I have been making for a long time: that ever-more-rapid innovation is of the keys to business success today.
This business technology revolution means that businesses can finally make a long-held dream a reality – that with the right leadership, resources, time and working capital, they can deploy technology effectively and use their human capital efficiently. I, for one, am excited that after a decade of limited innovation in business technology, important enterprise issues can now be rapidly be addressed. Adopting these new business mobility platforms is disruptive, of course, but it will introduce innovation to organizations that need it. Too many are currently operating under the lock of Windows-based computers running Microsoft Web browsers to connect to local Windows-based servers running applications that took months or years to develop, customize and install, and which are in some cases almost a decade old. Innovating in this environment takes too long. With the new business mobility platforms, companies operate in cloud computing-based collaboration environments that enable people to interact to address a range of human capital issues and to evolve business processes as needs arise. This has created a new tone of optimism in business.
The challenge for business now is to assess these new mobile computing platforms and their portfolios of applications, information and services. It is vital to understand how they can support the range of activities required for each area of a business. Any portfolio being considered should go well beyond the classic trio of e-mail, instant messaging and basic Internet browsing, as they are merely the basics required of any business mobility technology. Although this may seem simple and obvious, it actually is not. Since we are at the moment so early in the evolution of smart phones and tablets, companies need to examine what is available to meet their business needs and what they will need to develop.
Many organizations will be challenged to come up with the budgets and skills to step up the business to the next level. Nothing comes without investment; therefore the business case needs to be based partly on a cost-and-benefit analysis but also on the need to innovate and advance technologically for the organization to stay competitive. As I see it, the combined effects of these business technology investments can have a dramatic impact for every organization no matter what size and industry. The challenge is yours – you need to look at your organization’s technology with new eyes to see to what extent you can renovate existing approaches, or if you need to innovate with something that is more fresh, more interesting, and especially more relevant for your company’s future.
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Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research