Research: Web 2.0, Mobile Gain Momentum

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 05-12-2008

Research: Web 2.0, Mobile Gain Momentum

Investing in emerging technologies has always presented IT executives with a quandary: When is the right time to jump in? How quickly will the new technologies deliver results? What will happen if they don't?

Last year, CIOs told us they faced an uphill battle in in their efforts to justify IT investments. If the technologies haven't been widely deployed, the thinking went, there's little evidence to demonstrate their potential.

Unfotunately, the situation isn't any easier this year, according to our 2008 Emerging Technologies Survey.

CIOs say their companies invest in new technologies primarily to improve business processes. Boosting productivity and reducing costs also rank high. However, to get support from business executives, CIOs say, the cost-cutting argument goes the farthest.

That may reflect the current economic slowdown. While most CIOs don't expect their strategy to change in the short term, a considerable number of them say the downturn could force changes later in the year. If that happens, the rest of 2008 could be rocky for emerging technologies.

Today, however, a number of technologies are thriving. Our survey shows higher levels of evaluation, testing and adoption of Web 2.0 tools. And a growing number of companies are considering the use of smart phones as mobile clients, giving increased credibility to the longtime hype around the power of mobility.

Our research study also reveals that different technologies deliver different kinds of re-sults. Storage virtualization, for example, gets points for cost savings, but none for process improvements.

Some buzz-worthy technologies--Semantic Web, mobile robots and prediction market systems, for instance--have barely registered a blip on the enterprise radar screen. The fewer companies that test these technologies, the longer it will take for them to be widely adopted, leaving intrigued CIOs unclear about the potential risks and rewards.

That lack of clarity--together with the gloomy economic forecast--leaves many business executives wary of exploring any emerging technologies. But failure to invest now can put businesses well behind their competition.

--Research analysis by Guy Currier

Pitch Cost-Cutting, But Deliver Process Gains

 

FINDING 1
Pitch Cost-Cutting, But Deliver Process Gains

When proposing emerging technologies to business executives, CIOs are using a new argument: cost reduction. Process improvement remains the top corporate goal for using new technologies, but executives are clearly responding more to the financial pitch.

And while much of the talk around emerging technologies involves competitive advantage, very few CIOs cite it as a top corporate goal, and even fewer say it's an important element for gaining executive support.

There's also some divergence in the tools used to meet these corporate goals. Unified communications rates highly in improving processes and cutting costs; wikis help with processes, but much less in cost reduction, while the inverse is true for storage virtualization. When it comes to technologies already deployed, advanced processors top the list, but their ability to improve processes, lower costs or boost revenue rates far lower than that of other highly deployed tools like voice over IP and server virtualization.

On the other hand, buzzworthy technologies like Web video, information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) and enterprise search have far lower deployments and recognized benefits.

Driving Improvements

 

Finding 2

FINDING 2
Web 2.0 and Mobile Tech Leap Into the Spotlight

Wikis, blogs and rich Internet apps have come into their own this year, showing not just healthy deployment levels, but strong predeployment activity. Many survey respondents are evaluating social networking as a communications tool and for research, even if it's not yet widely deployed. (AJAX, the most deployed technology in this year's survey, looks like it's moved mainstream: 38 percent of companies have deployed it.) Meanwhile, the use of smart phones as mobile clients is one of the two most prevalent corporate emerging technologies.

 

 

 

CIOs Lead Adoption, But Should Seek P&L Support


FINDING 3
CIOs Lead Adoption, But Should Seek P&L Support

Non-IT officers remain largely on the periphery of the adoption process, but certain executives--particularly business-unit heads and CFOs--play crucial roles. That shouldn't come as a surprise, as those executives are the ones most concerned with profit and loss.

And it explains why more than three-quarters of the CIOs surveyed say they expect no more than two years to pass before their investments break even, regardless of whether their goal is cost- or revenue-related. Most companies spend less than 10 percent of their IT budget on emerging tech. Yet, 12 percent allot 20 percent or more--a hefty amount considering most IT costs aren't tied to technology purchases.

Getting Support

 


Economic Woes May Slow Pipeline

FINDING 4
Economic Woes May Slow the Pipeline ... a Little

Most CIOs expect few short-term changes in their spending on emerging technologies. But the gloomy economic forecasts force about one-third to predict a decrease in spending by the end of the year. This is partly outweighed by those who think spending will increase, especially on new deployments.

Many technologies (virtualization, in particular) are seen as clear money- and resource-savers, making them possible answers to--rather than victims of--an economic downturn. Still, half say their testing and piloting plans will stay level, with a few more saying the same about their plans to seek out and evaluate new technologies.
 

 

Risk Forecasts

 


 

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