Mobile, social, cloud and analytics: If your firm has yet to embrace these big-four IT trends, it's high time you get started. And if you've already dipped a toe into the waters, it's time to take the next step. Take mobility beyond checking email, for example, and start supporting two-way interactions with enterprise apps. If you've built out corporate Facebook and Twitter presences, move beyond counting friends, fans, and followers and start measuring ROI. You say you're using cloud-based CRM? What about collaboration or even two-tier ERP?
On the analytics front, if you're sitting on stockpiles of unused data, you're wasting what could be big data gold. All that history could be used to peer into the future with statistical and predictive analytics. Data warehouse appliances can be quickly deployed to tackle the structured stuff, while NoSQL is emerging as the affordable new platform of choice for high-volume unstructured information management.
We round out our 2012 enterprise advice with an encouragement to consolidate data centers, a suggestion to reconsider RISC-server replacements, and an admonishment to customize apps only when necessary. The overarching theme behind so many of these recommendations: Reduce IT cost and save staff time, energy, and money for innovation.
If you have to focus on one trend, it would be hard to ignore how mobile is changing everything. Smartphone sales surpassed PC sales for the first time in 2010. Then in 2011, a wave of tablets, led by the iPad2, took another big bite out of demand for desktops, laptops, and notebooks. It's clear that consumers and employees alike are going mobile, and they expect businesses, government agencies and employers to do the same.
The first wave was about providing access to email and account status information and customer contacts. Leading enterprises are taking their mobile strategies to the next level by enabling dynamic, two-way interactions with core enterprise systems and e-commerce capabilities. Mobile employee and consumer interactions that were formerly cryptic, crude, or only possible on costly ruggedized devices can now be flexible, interactive experiences supported on standard consumer smartphones.