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Hot Technologies for 2011

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 01-11-2011 Print

Which technologies will make a true impact in the enterprise next year?

Murphy: If you look at what we've done with human sourcing--looking for the lowest-cost sourcing models that can still meet the needs of the organization--I see that the cloud is going to create the same type of model for platforms and technology. The "doing more with less" pressures are going to continue. The limited resources are going to continue. The skills gap from where we are and where we need to be is going to grow. You're going to have a new generation whose expectations are highly amped. So what do you do?

Companies are looking for opportunities to move their low-value-add but high-overhead applications and technologies to a reliable environment. That allows you to eliminate a bunch of costs from your balance sheet, to smooth out your costs over 12 months (which CFOs like), and not have to worry about that skill set anymore. It just becomes another sourcing model, akin to the human sourcing model, in that it will complicate the governance of IT, but it will simplify the technical aspects of IT. That's the bet.

Obviously, none of this happens without risk, but all the pressure points are right for a more concerted push to move this stuff out.

Social networking (or collaborative) tools are similar in terms of hype versus reality. Will enterprise adoption change in 2011?

Murphy: You now have this mass of Internet-enabled population, this kind-of-new way of communicating, a new generation of workers coming in who grew up with [social media]--and most traditional companies that have treated this stuff like the plague. And yet, look at LinkedIn, for instance: It is, in a sense, the perfect knowledge-management tool--the kind we've talked about for 20 years but haven't done a good enough job building ourselves.

There's tremendous power in reworking social networking tools into true business tools. We have to figure out which parts we want, how we get them, and how we piece them together into something that makes sense.

There are new protocols and standards being developed because this is so serious: You wouldn't see this happening if social networking didn't have real legs. The new technologies that are coming are at the very core of how the Internet works, and they're coming because of the explosion of social networking, the new capabilities we're seeing, this new way of communicating.

There are pieces of it out there. It's going to be an organic, grassroots kind of thing that you prove out on a small scale. If you can show a return associated with this type of a model, then you might be able to move that forward.Given all of this change, what key things should CIOs expect to do in 2011?

Murphy: The first thing is the least sexy: To truly understand your supply and demand. [Then you can] put in place governance that incorporates ... the business into the decisions around how to apply your supply to your demand. That is fundamental, but it's amazing how few companies have actually done it.

Once you've done that, you can focus on where you have ample supply to go after the real value-add. It requires a degree of transparency that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. For me, it's all about transparency.

The second is to explore social networking tools. They're coming fast and furious, and you should investigate their capabilities and how they might apply to your company. If it becomes a competitive disadvantage, you don't want to start from scratch. The CIO is absolutely responsible for looking ahead and avoiding risk caused by something you didn't see coming.

The last is to look at all the sourcing models you have--both human and asset--and develop a strategy. You might not have the money to actually implement or build, but you can put a strategy together, knowing what you know about the business today and where it's going, so that you don't get caught flat-footed. India wages are changing. China, Latin America and Eastern Europe are evolving. These are all things we should be watching. And, of course, the cloud introduces platform options. So CIOs should build a strategy around both platform sourcing and human sourcing.

Those are three things I would do. One is foundational; the other two are strategic look-aheads, anticipating a time when the economy will really recover, and people will look at how they can separate themselves from the competition.


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