It’s November and technology observers around the world are looking ahead to 2014 identifying the key trends and developments. Gartner recently released their top 10 Strategic Technology Trends that appears to be largely based on the progress of the 40+ technologies they are focused upon in their “2013 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.” A Forbes contributor also recently released a more subjective list of seven trends to watch. The customer revolution and the consumer power that it brings continue to be a driving force for technology adoption and innovation.
Here is what I see trending as my top three in technology for the B2B space. (If you’re interested in knowing what I see as the top trends for consumers as well, I’ve outlined them here.)
1. Cloud software solutions choices expand
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Without a doubt the need to respond to continuously flexing business requirements and a desire to get hold of quickly emerging new technology and software updates, will see more pure cloud solutions in the market.
Virtually every business search for software now includes understanding hosted cloud options.
Market pressure keeps capital spend down and operational expense based solutions that drop the upfront capital sometimes to implementation costs are more popular than ever. Midsize and larger businesses will see this as particularly beneficial while smaller businesses will still invest in a lower capital expenditure until the cloud becomes the only way for them to maintain competition (probably another five years for small business.)
IT organizations remain critical to successful operations. They are already morphing to a certain extent into service providing entities with shared services models. This service model supports multiple cloud choices and become the broker for best value for their business clients in support of the business direction. What this means is that IT can afford to be less locked in to one vendor over another but instead needs to be able to flex in order to provide just what the business needs with a minimum of integration and complexity. IT organizations do well to define standards and avoid customizations of incoming applications through provision of smart web services surrounding core applications thus providing a platform for such flexibility for the business. 2014 is a growth year in this respect.
2. Greater emphasis on mobile applications for customer interaction
Across all the major mobile devices and tablets customer facing applications, that reduce contact center calls and provide outstanding customer information portals, are on the march.
- Healthcare – improvement of patient experience or doctor accessibility to information.
- Financial Institutions – adding account notifications, product updates within applications and a secure communication hub for customer interaction.
- Knowledge portals – providing customers what they want faster and easier or to provide online methods to get to the data or resolution.
Organizations will need to leverage enterprise quality premium applications over some of the free open technologies used in the past to provide the quality of applications required.
3. Increased social adoption within the organization
Great industry examples exist regarding social adoption within the workplace, as a pre-cursor to increased customer social interaction, the delivery and adoption of internal social networks is a crucial part of education and experience.
Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are well armed to address needs for internal collaboration but the business social network will require some key structures around knowledge base/management, knowledge worker accessibility, community and forums, etc., not to mention culture change will require a good amount of smart business consulting and development.
What do you expect to see as technology highlights for businesses in the coming year? I’d love to know what you think!