Each of these trends will continue to drive specific changes in the way organisations work and deliver services, and are relevant to companies across all industries. However, it is the ability to access and deploy these technologies together that promises to deliver truly disruptive change for organisations over the next 24 months.
· Social networking will continue to impact communications strategies – both internally and externally – and developing effective strategies to engage, enrich and execute across social platforms will be a key challenge for companies, across all industries. Investment in content will be increasingly offset by investment in community management.
· 2014 will be the year of building the 'Social Business'. Businesses should ensure they have a strategy to extract value through social technology. Organisations will increasingly consider the impact of ‘social’ in P&L terms: taking cost out of their business by crowdsourcing activity and driving additional revenue through enhanced customer engagement.
· The assimilation of smartphones into our lives has brought expectations of convenience and connectivity. We have already seen the growing trend of the Internet of Things, and over the next 24 months we will see the rise of the mobile Internet of Things. Our app-centric lifestyles mean that we expect the convenience of fully-featured service experiences in our pockets, wherever we are.
Google Glass, health and lifestyle trackers and security devices are using short range communication to exploit the computing power and network connectivity of smartphones to create an extended technology environment for us all.
· But what does this mean for businesses? Companies will need to adapt and deal with the implications of the hyper-connected consumer and employee, from ‘bring your own device’ to ‘wear your own device’. Not least will this involve ensuring the right IT security tools and procedures are in place, but it’s likely to impact other areas of the business (for example HR) and these departments may need to update their guidelines.
· The Big Data shift will increasingly turn towards developing insight from unstructured data, such as social media interactions and behavioural signatures. Companies will look to sharpen their existing data-heavy activities, such as customer relationships and fraud management, through the use of more sophisticated analytical tools that can deliver stronger insights and predictions from social chatter and service interactions.
As companies develop their analytics capabilities with the view to extracting valuable insight from their customer relationships, across multiple platforms, they will need to develop intelligent frameworks that couple both structured and unstructured data, and mine that data to deliver insight.
A key next step will be connecting those insights to effective decision making, which ultimately improves customer service.
· Cloud has moved beyond its initial incarnation as a data storage and application hosting environment. It is now a key enabler of enterprise mobility. It liberates employees and customers from the shackles of corporate networks and drives open-source innovation of new applications.
It can enable organisations to deploy a workplace on command, which can provide an employee access to the applications and operating environment that they need, wherever they may be.
· Developing and maintaining effective cloud security practices without constraining its advantages requires careful thought and implementation. Organisations will therefore need to ensure they have robust cyber security protection across the cloud and enterprise environment.
It’s time for the cloud to ‘disappear’, and fit seamlessly into our lives. It will be a complex process but the advantages of a fully integrated cloud are huge.