Disruptive to productive technology predictions

Thursday, 06 January, 2011

During 2011, Unisys predicts, six disruptive technology trends that are reshaping the IT industry will move into greater everyday use in the enterprise as organisations seek practical ways to make their end users more productive and their mission-critical systems more secure and cost-efficient.

“Practicality will be the theme in 2011 as organisations seek a tangible and rapid return on their IT investments,” said Fred Dillman, Unisys Chief Technology Officer. “With tight cost controls remaining an everyday fact of life, organisations are looking for technologies that save money, increase worker productivity and solve pressing security issues. We expect to see organisations make highly targeted investments in emerging technologies for very practical uses in mission-critical environments.”

Six technology trends for a more productive, cost-efficient enterprise

1. Cloud Computing will accelerate from pilots to production, with private clouds leading the way. Many organisations remain concerned about shifting their mission-critical workloads and sensitive data to public cloud-based environments. This has limited some cloud applications to test and development environments.

Over the next 12 months, Unisys expects organisations to implement private cloud computing environments for specific production-based applications. This will be a key stepping stone to broader use of public cloud environments over the next two to three years.

“We are starting to see organisations move from kicking the tyres around private clouds to starting to implement and execute,” Dillman said. “We also expect to see greater use of hosted software-as-a-service applications as clients look to take advantage of the cost economies of the cloud quickly and efficiently. Data security in the cloud will remain a key consideration, and we expect to see cloud security technology to be a major growth area.”

2. Consumerisation of IT trends will continue to accelerate within corporate IT environments, as new generations of powerful consumer mobile devices such as smartphones, netbooks and tablet devices continue to proliferate, displacing PCs and laptops as technologies of choice among business users. This will result in significant changes to end-user support and customer interaction support requirements within the enterprise as more of these consumer devices are being used to access mission-critical applications beyond corporate email and voice.

The long-dreamt possibility of ‘multimodal access’ for end users - being able to access enterprise resources via any device, any time, anywhere - is closer to reality now than ever before.  But with that increased convenience and usability comes the need for enterprises to modernise information access and support capabilities.

“The consumerisation of IT wave will require enterprises to change old standardised approaches for end-user support in order to manage and secure myriad devices and applications within the enterprise,” Dillman said. “In addition, we expect more organisations in 2011 to tackle modernising customer interaction points with mobile access, touch-screen, geolocation and audio/video capabilities to drive greater productivity and connection with an increasingly mobile, connected customer base. Those who don’t risk being left behind as consumer buying patterns continue to evolve.”

3. Social computing will move beyond marketing and increasingly be used both as a productivity tool within the enterprise and as a way to revolutionise client engagement. Organisations will tap social computing tools for broad-based knowledge management initiatives that drive greater time- and cost-efficient collaboration across their global workforce.

In addition, Unisys expects organisations to integrate social computing tools with transactional business applications to bring greater richness and depth to interactions with clients and partners.

“Organisations have done a lot of work to get a corporate presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter,” Dillman said. “Now we’re starting to see more clients think about how they use these advanced tools inside their company, inside the firewall, to enable secure, internal collaboration among a globally dispersed workforce. Increasing collaboration in large organisations is critical to improving their responsiveness to both clients and business partners.”

4. Smart computing will gain popularity as a way to automate and simplify IT systems. Using intelligent analytics and other advanced automation tools, organisations will establish ‘sense-and-respond’ systems to automate complex back-end processes that manage devices within the data centre and in the distributed environment.

“Software and hardware maintenance continues to consume a disproportionate amount of an organisation’s typical IT budget,” Dillman said. “Smart computing technologies offer great promise for organisations to take out much of the cost associated with day-to-day maintenance and shift those investment dollars to innovation.”

5. ‘Fit for purpose’ appliance offerings will grow in popularity as the computing platforms of choice for specialised applications. Appliances are turnkey computing devices that bundle all the necessary hardware and software for handling specialised tasks such as database management, security, web commerce, voicemail, ERP packaged software. Unisys expects to see appliances emerge for industry-specific applications such as voice messaging, air cargo management, healthcare and other specialised industry functions.

“Instead of buying general-purpose computers, infrastructure software stacks, packaged applications software and doing the integration themselves, organisations are becoming more interested in preconfigured specialty appliances that can be deployed quickly and conveniently. As technology integration has become more time consuming, expensive and risky, many organisations are looking to simplify the process of technology deployment and ongoing maintenance,” Dillman said.

6. Cybersecurity technologies such as biometrics and sophisticated monitoring applications will move to the forefront of the security discussion. As organisations work to mitigate an ever-growing array of risks from cybercrime to cargo bombs, Unisys expects organisations - particularly government agencies, financial institutions and airports - to invest in advanced identity and credentialing and secure supply chain systems.

In addition, as cybercrime grows more sophisticated and IT infrastructures become more complex, Unisys expects organisations to take a more holistic, integrated approach to security across the enterprise. Organisations will increasingly work to integrate their myriad physical and digital systems into single-pane dashboards that enable them to better monitor security threats across their organisation and manage overall compliance requirements.

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