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10 Bold Tech Predictions For 2012

Cloud, tablets, social business–here are the technology trends to watch out for in 2012.

“I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that
man would not fly for fifty years…Ever since, I have distrusted myself and
avoided all predictions.” –-Wilbur Wright, 1908 

With none of Wilbur Wright’s humility, here are my predictions
for some significant business developments in 2012.

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1.      
Social business will
take off in 2012, but companies will struggle to adopt.
Management
consultants will champion ‘digital transformation’ initiatives ala Y2K in order
to help companies change business processes and worker behavior. But the real
gains will be made where companies can find ways to adopt social and
collaboration tools without making workers change their daily work habits. This evolutionary approach to social business
adoption will trump ‘rip and replace’ methodologies being promoted by some
social business software vendors…including one that recently went public.

2.      
A significant failure in
a popular cloud service will set the cloud movement back.
  A high-profile outage will scare a lot of
businesses planning to move to the cloud; caution will set in as companies
think twice about exposing their crown IT jewels to the cloud. Small companies
with scant IT resources will throw caution to the wind and will continue to move
to the cloud, because of the huge cost savings they can realize.

3.      
Mobile IT will grow
slowly in the enterprise.
  Mobile IT and mobile apps will continue to
spread in the enterprise, but it will be a top-down adoption.  Senior managers who can buy their own mobile
smartphones and tablets will readily adopt mobile applications, but enterprise
adoption will take time as IT needs to gear up to support a more mobile
workforce. The other area of meaningful adoption will continue to be mobile
workers like technicians and salespeople.

4.      
Organizations will
increase IT infrastructure investments.
  Companies sitting on cash stockpiled
during the last few years of workforce and budget reductions will need to spend
to upgrade their aging IT infrastructure. Increased spending will include
investments in tools and applications that let workers work together better
across geographic distances, albeit in a secure manner. Collaboration, social business, and mobile are
all areas of interest.

5.      
An iPad tablet
alternative will emerge
out of the fragmented Android market.  At least one Android tablet will get it right
and will emerge as a reasonable alternative to the iPad, which is today, king
of the hill.  But a shakeout will reduce
the number of viable tablets vying for market share. For more on Android vs.
iOS, read on…

6.      
Android vs. iOS 2012.  Apple will have to become more flexible in its software distribution model
for enterprise software or it will risk making the same Macintosh vs. PC
mistake of the 1990s. It is not
reasonable for organizations to grant Apple control of application distribution
to their internal workforce. Enterprise
software vendors will also champion a distribution model in which they have
better control of their destiny. The Android alternative to iOS will represent
a positive market force.

7.      
eBooks will dominate. Already outselling some categories of paper books, eBooks will
finally take center stage. Significant sales of the Kindle during this holiday
season bode well for this market. The impact on brick and mortar publishers
will be substantial. Book publishers,
like magazine publishers before them will find niches where paper will continue
to thrive, for example in genres where graphic layout remain important, and
where digital representations do not (yet) compare.

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8.      
Information overload
will get much worse.  
The inundation
of information from more and more channels will continue to erode our ability
to focus and pay attention to the world around us. Case in point: a recent survey
by social email company harmon.ie
found that “the majority of people under
the age of 40 stay digitally connected in bed, and 44% of people under 30 stay
connected during a night out at the movies.” An information ‘green’ movement
will begin to peel back some of the excesses of the intrusion brought on by
digital devices. One example of this movement is the recent recommendation of
the NTSB to ban cell phone use in
automobiles. Adopting an Internet Sabbath, as William Powers suggests in his book
“Hamlet’s Blackberry,” will appeal to more and more people who are stressed out
by being ‘always on.’

9.      
Consolidation in the
social business/enterprise collaboration market.
  The value of business
collaboration is well-accepted in organizations; organizations have already invested
heavily in tools to take advantage. 
Forrester Research found that the majority of organizations have
invested in five or more collaboration tools. Getting workers to use these tools
remains a struggle, so it makes sense that there will a consolidation in the
tools used to complete everyday business tasks. 
Creating a single window of collaboration and social business is a
mega-trend in the enterprise software market; this will lead to a consolidation
in the market.

10.  
A significant new player
will emerge in the social networking space.
  Facebook will remain the dominant
player for the foreseeable future, but an attractive alternative will emerge in
2012.

Happy holidays and a happy new year. 

[Image: Flickr user damianthegirl]

About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission.

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