The global economy is front and center, and enterprises worldwide are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck in 2009. With that in mind, Verizon Business has identified 10 business technology trends to help corporate and government information technology (IT) leaders do more with less.
"These challenging times present IT leaders with an opportunity to make technology work harder and smarter to get the job done," says Nancy Gofus, senior vice-president of global business products for Verizon. "We're at a crossroads, where cost-cutting and technological innovation can actually unite to create new business capabilities in spite of the economic climate."
Verizon Business' list of 10 hot trends for 2009 is:
* Enterprise 2.0 – The workplace is ever-changing and yesterday's work style is being replaced with a more interactive exchange of ideas inspired by social networking tools such as Facebook, Wikis, Mash-ups, Twitter and Digg-it. Web 2.0 is quickly evolving into Enterprise 2.0 as these rich capabilities are creating new business models for some companies and empowering new strategies for others. Removing traditional barriers of walls, wires, time and distance – reflective of today's often globally dispersed enterprises – in favor of new social networking tools will enable workers to connect to their extended network of customers, suppliers, vendors and employees in new and exciting ways. Look for Enterprise 2.0 to help organisations take their game to the next level through enhanced collaboration, communications and sharing ideas.
* Work as activity versus place – Organisations want their employees to get their jobs done no matter where they are. For that reason, teleworking is becoming a strategic imperative. Companies will continue to recognise the productivity-boosting benefits of enabling mobile teleworkers or at-home teleworkers to remain securely
connected to corporate resources. The environment will also benefit as more businesses, government agencies and municipalities recognise the energy savings that can result from teleworking and "hoteling" (using office space on an as- needed basis, like a hotel room). Telework, including new high-definition virtual meetings, will create an increased focus on work as an activity versus a physical location, and companies will be able to hire and retain professional talent regardless of where they are located.
Managed mobility offerings will help businesses track, monitor, secure and manage the plethora of mobile devices accessing corporate networks.
* Doing more with less – Businesses and governments everywhere are looking for ways to do more with less. That holds true whether it means using managed services or tuning up existing networks instead of building new ones. IT organisations are also looking for the right technologies, such as sophisticated automated speech systems, to better serve customers. In 2009, it's all about productivity. Companies can choose which functions to keep in-house and which to hand off to a third party. Flexibility, the need for specific skill-sets and globalisation are making selective out-tasking the preferred model. With managed services, companies can focus on what they do best and leave some of the highly specialised work such as IT, security, networks and call centers, to experts.
* Visual communications – Video will continue to play a starring role, as companies make the most of their IP connections to create a culture of collaboration. From the boardroom to the desktop to the laptop to the mobile phone, more collaboration will take place, as companies increasingly embrace the cost-savings, productivity and environmental benefits of virtual meetings versus business travel. High-definition video will begin to pay off for extended enterprise communications between employees, customers, suppliers and partners. In addition to interactive video collaboration, video functions will be incorporated in the enterprise for on-demand content distribution, including on-the-job training. As high-definition video equipment becomes more affordable and interoperable, the opportunity to video-enable corporate IP network endpoints will allow companies to rev-up their existing networks with minimal investment.
* Unified communications integrated into business processes – If voice over IP (VoIP) is thought to be the first return on an IP network investment, unified communications (UC) will be the gift that keeps on giving. Unified communications uses Internet protocol networks to integrate various systems, media, devices and applications to help streamline business processes, accelerate decision-making, and reduce costs. With UC now at the forefront of business communications strategies, companies are making decisions about voice telephony that will help them achieve greater collaboration and productivity. Workers leveraging presence capabilities in a UC environment can gain more control over work flow and time management as well as expedited communications. What's next: UC integrated into automated business processes, where human and machine intelligence commingle in an IP world to drive even greater business growth.
* Ready, set, go IPv6 – The number of IP-addressable devices and systems is skyrocketing within enterprises and few organisations have current documented data on what those IP assets are, how they are being used and which ones are most critical to their operations. Knowing which IP addressable elements are linked to which business needs will enable IT leaders to prioritise the data and applications that will need to be future-proofed with IPv6 capabilities while phasing out those that are idle or counter productive to operations. IPv6 will be a necessity for companies to achieve mobility and scalability with increased efficiency and ultimately move their businesses forward.
* Getting SaaSy – The network becomes king once again in 2009 making it the perfect platform for software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery. Serving content, applications and security in a centralised online environment will become the rage. Buying computing resources a la carte will help companies control costs while attaining the security, performance, scalability and reliability required for the enterprise. Consuming IT resources (connectivity, server and storage) on an as-needed basis will keep IT costs in control and eliminate the need, time and effort to outfit every desktop. Centralisation will keep IT departments on top of their game in 2009.
* 360-degree security – Professionals will need to be security-conscious in and out of the office. Whether at home or on-the-go, security needs to be considered every step of the way. Three hundred sixty-degree security, mandatory on any IT checklist, requires that the flow of data be protected in and out of the corporate network and through the extended enterprise of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees. Security will touch every endpoint, every device and every situation, both physical and logical. Home and office require equal protection as boundaries continue to blur.
* Eco-responsibility as sound business strategy – Companies will evaluate eco-responsibility along with their technology investments as part of an overall business strategy. Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly important in how companies are viewed by their employees, customers and investors. What's good for the environment also happens to make good business sense. According to "Smart 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age" published by The Climate Group, ICT can reduce total global carbon emissions by 15 percent by the year 2020. If companies can reduce their energy consumption, they can also reduce their energy costs to gain a competitive advantage. What's more, savvy companies today are embracing the green initiative to get ahead of government and business
mandates that will eventually force the issue.
* Cutting through the compliance clutter – Compliance and regulatory oversight are here to stay. In 2009, expect more, not less, with IT in the hot seat for ensuring IT systems are fully compliant and all the right controls are in place. Enterprises should be prepared to be strategic, think innovatively and act decisively. Professional services and Web-based dashboards that help track, monitor and enable controls for compliance will provide the foundation for companies looking to get it right. These "smart" tools also will allow an organisation to quickly review whether its partners, customers and suppliers, which form an extended network, are complying with relevant standards and regulations, a critical consideration in today's increasingly connected world.
"To these predictions, we will add one more: businesses worldwide will need to be quick and nimble in the coming year," says Gofus. "Those that leverage the benefits of technology to power their business objectives will weather the storm and become even stronger in the long run."