Here is my own take on where I see value for the small to mid-sized business:
Cloud is definitely a growth area and offers fantastic opportunities for businesses to reduce CAPEX, reduce the traditional IT infrastructure and maintenance overheads, passing these onto service providers. More and more applications are being ‘born on the cloud’ and sentiment towards data privacy and risk associated with storing data remotely seem to be less than they were only a few years ago. Cloud / hosted providers have better technologies available to them to offer virtualised, secure and easier to manage environments for business of all sizes. This is resulting in more solutions becoming available at lower costs and that can be provisioned quicker for the small to mid-sized business.
Mobile is on everyone’s lips and is in everyone’s pockets. It seems now that if an application doesn’t have a web or native app available, it is behind the pack. Again, lots of focus here on platforms to build, manage, host and upgrade potential mobility solutions for the enterprise. Look out for more innovations coming in mobile solutions such as CRM, Retail and Service where there is a direct correlation to where users’ job functions are inherently mobile.
Big Data Analytics. I admit I’m sceptical on where the average business can benefit from Big Data technologies. Big Data is concerned with the collection, storage and analysis of large volumes of data that is both variable, unstructured and quickly changing in nature. Statistics suggest data is growing at exponential rates, but how does a business manage this and glean insight with all this data. Where do you start? How can you turn data into something actionable? Ultimately a mid-sized business must have an understanding of what it wants to analyse; and have the ability to interpret this big data to ensure you employ the right tools, processes and methodologies. Big Data is still a very early concept and I suspect most big businesses still don’t have a Big Data strategy. Those that do, claim it’s already giving them a competitive advantage. Sure, the early adopters may be big enterprises, however it won’t be long until the tools and best-practices will filter down to the mid-market. Having an understanding where your own analytics strategy sits in this evolution is something I will cover in a future blog.
Social media and collaboration continues to divide opinion. Many still don’t see where the monetisation and business benefits are. Is this just something for the gen-Ys, or is it something that companies should leverage both internally and externally to grow their business? There is certainly a case for better collaboration tools that allow co-workers to share, provide feedback and demonstrate new ideas. All of this is said to foster positive collaboration, and if used effectively, will reap rewards. Perhaps aligned to my previous point – Big Data, I see tools that can analyse customer sentiment through social/digital media streams as something a business would benefit from. Admittedly, I’m not sure how practical that is to do yet. I see advantages for retail and services organisations to take a closer look at this growing channel.
Well as I wrap up my week at IBM InterConnect, I’d like to leave you with this closing question; Which trend are you backing and when do you see your business actively using it?