Which technology trends will drive businesses forward next year? We asked customers, BT and industry experts – and our very own futurologist – for their predictions.
Technology is the single most important differentiator for successful organisations today, according to business leaders across the world.
This is a view held by 75 percent of the 1,709 business people that took part in the 2012 IBM Global CEO Study.
Chris Lindsay, BT Business, agrees. “When we look back in five years’ time we will see that we have undergone a revolution, even if we don’t realise it right now,” he explains. “There are two megatrends: the move to the Cloud and consumerisation of IT. They’re transforming the way that businesses think about IT, and the way that it is delivered.”
How do businesses themselves view the role of technology? We recently surveyed 467* customers, asking them: “What do you think will be the biggest change in the way your business uses IT or communications in 2013?”
The survey revealed that the five game-changing trends according to customers were:
Customers and tech experts seem to be agreed on the key trends for 2013. We asked industry insiders for their thoughts…
“There is one overarching trend in 2013, which makes the other four key trends possible, and that is greater access to faster broadband,” says Dr. Nicola Millard, BT’s customer experience futurologist.
“Through better connectivity we have more flexibility to decide how, when and where we want to work, be that in a restaurant, hotel lobby or what I call a ‘coffice’.”
According to Dr. Millard there are three key ingredients to a good “coffice” – good coffee, good cake and good connectivity.
Earlier this year, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to ensure Britain has the fastest broadband network of any major European country by 2015. In a speech at Google’s campus building in East London, he explained that to be the best you need to be the fastest and that’s the position Britain will take.
At the Unified Communications Expo in London earlier this year, 64 out of the 100 business leaders surveyed said their employees preferred to work on their own devices in the office.
BYOD is a trend that has big advantages, especially in terms of cost saving, productivity and remote working. But according to Marcus Austin, editor of TechRadar Business Centre, it also requires a clear policy and a solid security strategy in place.
“Many personal devices will be operating on the recently launched Windows 8. But it will likely take companies some time to upgrade their technology framework to the same operating system,” he explains. As a result, businesses will need to make sure that the devices people use and take into the office work safely and effectively.
The move towards more cloud-based computing remains so strong that in October 2012, Gartner the technology research firm, predicted that the cloud will eventually completely replace the PC as the location where we store our information.
Dr. Millard agrees that cloud technology will continue to gain traction – mainly because of the flexibility it offers.
“Thanks to cloud technology it doesn’t matter where you are working from,” she explains. “As long as you have an internet connection you will be able to access anything, anywhere, at any time, and on any device. That is true flexibility.”
“Video conferences have so far replaced just a small proportion of face-to-face meetings,” says Julian Bond, head of ICT at Nottingham-based Hillarys, a company specialising in blinds, curtains and shutters.
“However, the economics are changing as access to faster broadband becomes more commonplace among our remote users. So video conferencing is likely to grow significantly in 2013,” Bond says.
As businesses keep a tighter rein on travel expenses, video conferencing is fast becoming an attractive alternative to costly face-to-face meetings. For businesses that are worried about their carbon footprint, video conferencing is also a much greener choice than a long-haul flight or regional meetings.
Video conferencing is likely to become more widely adopted as more consumer devices support it, according to TechRadar’s Austin. “Video conferencing will just continue to get bigger in 2013, especially as devices like the newly launched iPad mini all have front and rear facing cameras,” he says.
The transformation of social media from a personal communication platform to an integral part of a business’s internal and external comms strategy will continue in 2013.
But while the majority of companies are currently using social technologies just to build relationships with their employees, customers and partners, we can look forward to businesses taking this to an entirely new level.
General Electric is a pioneer in this area. As part of its GESh@re strategy the company’s social media platform not only connects people with people, but also socially links people to machines.
If my jet engine could talk to me, what would it say and how can I use that information to improve its performance? This was the question that formed the backbone of the company’s innovative new generation of aircraft engine, known as GEnx, which can post status updates in real time to a social media feed with a full technical lowdown from its flight. By giving GE engineers and the airline service team access to the same social media platform, everybody can easily discuss the jet engine’s status updates and together look for ways to improve its output performance.
Never before has technology’s role in driving business forward been as important as it is right now. That’s a trend that won’t change anytime soon. In the words of Charlene Begley, Global CIO of General Electric, it is all about “finding new ways to bring value to customers, and connecting the right people with the right information, at the right time, on any device, anywhere in the world”.
Now, for the first time, cloud, social and mobile technologies are coming together to connect customers, employees and partners in exciting new ways. So let’s raise a glass and welcome in, what could be a very interesting 2013 IT evolution.
*Survey to BT Business Panel, October 2012
What do you think will be big in 2013? Leave us a comment below.
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