Technology Trends – or Business Requirements?

Technology Trends or Business Requirements?

How closely does the average IT shop actually follow emerging technological trends and the advice of leading industry analysts and the media in planning their budgets and projects? When Gartner says they predict large organizations will establish “cloudsourcing” teams or that future applications will be integrated with social technologies or that organizations will need to provide applications to interact with customers via mobile devices, does this impact your planning?

If you follow the industry analysts, in particular Gartner, you will be accustomed to seeing predictions about the future of Information Technology — software, applications and infrastructure — often numerically identified Letterman-style as a “Top Ten” list. I recently referenced Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology list for 2011 in my blog post “Reaching for the Sky –  Cloud Computing.” Afterwards, I pulled the lists for the past three years to see how these trends have changed or evolved.

For reference, below is a summary of Gartner’s Top Ten Technology Strategies for three years in a row. Their predictions for 2012 will come out in the fall.

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies

A striking shift I’ve noticed between IT trends in this decade versus previous decades is how corporate IT strategies are becoming mirrored by — and even triggered by — activities in the consumer world.

With the proliferation of the Internet, where computers were once the domain of the technology professional or “geek,” they are now in the hands of literally everyone with increasing capacity, capabilities and mobility. And this has had an exponential impact on the growth of the technology. If you consider the top four strategies in Gartner’s 2011 list, all of them are driven by widespread use of the Internet, smart phones and social media.

As an executive with a leading software vendor, I know that following these trends is important so that we can stay at the leading edge and provide our customers with advanced capabilities within our software as and when they are needed. There are some organizations who are keen to implement new and evolving technologies and stay ahead of the pack. However, we are working with many organizations who are so engrossed with their operational and systems’ challenges that they are barely paying attention to Gartner’s hot items, like cloud computing, mobile applications and social media. Does this mean these organizations won’t be able to remain competitive in an increasingly complex business climate? I believe the answer is “not necessarily — and it certainly depends on your industry and target customers to some extent.”

There are so many directions you can follow today that most small- to medium-sized organizations can’t do them all anyway. (Think of your social interactions — should you text, email, Twitter, Facebook, or call someone on their mobile? Sometimes, it’s simpler to just wait until your next get together.)

Many organizations must focus first on ensuring they have efficient line of business applications that keep up with their changing organizational needs while, ensuring that mission-critical apps remain stable and perform well. We encounter many companies with 20-30 year old legacy environments which must first be brought forward to current architectural and development capabilities so that they can be poised to take advantage of advanced technology.

I recently met with an organization in this situation and they aren’t concerned with whether they have GUI interfaces, SOA architecture, browser-based applications for Web or mobile, Web services, a social media presence, or even a cloud strategy. They are about to upgrade their decades old RPG and SYNON code on old hardware and an unsupported release of OS/400 to current hardware, OS and an improved software environment. They plan to follow a staged approach to transforming their applications so they can leverage their information rich system and gradually enhance and evolve this into current technology. And meanwhile, their business has been in growth mode. While they are at a stage where it is critical that they start to move their monolithic legacy systems forward, their inability to keep up with trends does not appear to have hurt them (yet). The situation will depend on the industry and competitive landscape to some extent but, generally speaking, internal systems and operations should be addressed first.

So, for many organizations, taking care of your core applications is critical and must take highest priority. Watching the trends and predictions by analysts will help you plan for the future. If the current trends continue, then you actually may be able to assess this yourself by observing what technology you, your family (especially your kids) and friends are using.  Although, the industry experts should help you understand how the latest technologies are translating into IT implementations where significant ROI, customer satisfaction and business value are the outcome.

Eden Watt

Author: Eden Watt

Eden is the Vice President of Professional Services for LANSA in the Americas. Eden and her consulting teams have been implementing leading-edge eCommerce and modernization solutions for IBM i enterprise systems for over two decades. Prior to joining the executive team at LANSA, Eden was a computer science major, application architect, programmer and project manager, starting her career as a systems engineer for IBM. Over the last decade, she has contributed dozens of articles to industry publications and is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. Eden has presented at conferences for both IT and business-focused audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *