Red_New_ArrowWe live and work in a time of rapid and revolutionary technological change.  We have technology that allows us to communicate with customers faster, increase production in ways we never would have dreamed of, track key performance indicators with the click of a button and communicate in minutes and seconds instead of days. Rapid changes to technology creates great benefits, but also challenges us to keep up.

Here are a few key areas to watch in 2012:

1. Touch & Voice. Expect to see a continued shift of sensory input from the keyboard and mouse to other methods.   We see this on a day to day basis with our personal devices like tablets and phones.  Apple’s successful release of “Siri”, the highly intelligent voice of the iPhone, will spur more intelligent voice activation offerings from other providers.  In addition, we will see more touchscreen, even in the office environment.  Microsoft Windows 8 previews indicate that it will integrate very well with touchscreens.  It is almost a certainty that a hybrid of touchscreen and keyboard will become common place in the work environment over the next few years.

2. Mobile Payments. Near Field Communication (NFC) is the next thing in credit card processing.  With NFC, you can wave a so enabled smartphone near a capable credit card machine and pay your bill.  As indispensable as the smartphone has become, NFC offers convenience that appeals to many.  There are certainly security issues here, but they are being rapidly addressed in an effort to make this technology trustworthy.  Some predictions say 20% of smartphone users will have this technology in place by 2013.

3. Tablet Shift.  Apple has been the innovator in the tablet market with the iPad for years.  Even Android proponents compare their preferred Android device to the iPad as a benchmark of how good it is.  The release of the Kindle Fire at around $199.00 is a game changer.  It is a well-engineered Android device and it comes at a very low cost.  It does not have all the features of the high-end iPad and Android devices, but its low cost will cause people to buy who previously would not.  And, they will buy a second or third device for the kids or spouse.  Kindle Fire may even outsell the iPad in 2012.

4. Consumerization of IT. Expect to see the continued blending of consumer and business IT in 2012.  IT managers and business owners will have to figure out how to secure their organization in spite of connections to employee owned tablets, smartphones, home computers, Internet TVs, and other devices.  This trend will necessitate a hybrid security policy that addresses physical protection, detection, and response.

5. Social Media. Some social media saturation is likely in 2012.   Don’t get me wrong, people are not going to give up Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.  I am simply suggesting that growth may slow, and new social media offerings may be up against a tougher battle to gain user adoption.  What business wants to try to maintain one more are of social media presence?  And, even personally, who wants to add one more place to update their status?

6.   Hybrid Cloud Strategy. Of late there have been several articles on business problems related to the cloud.  Many of these problems stem from a misunderstanding of how to use and benefit from the cloud.  While cloud adoption will continue to grow in 2012, many will find that a hybrid strategy is the best approach.  Certain business applications and initiatives work well in the cloud, and others are just better hosted locally.

7.  Speed. We have an insatiable appetite for Internet speed.  We want to watch multi-media training, TV, movies, play interactive games, and watch sports on our tablets and phones, and we don’t want to wait!  4g coverage is growing rapidly in the US and will continue to do so.  The amazing speed of 4G will open up a whole new world of mobile communication, with people doing even more on their handheld and portable devices.

8. Security. Information will become even harder for the business to secure.  Multiple connections, multiple networks, and multiple screens tapped into our business networks will make security vigilance even more important.

Many of these technology trends present an opportunity for us to improve how our team works, or improve our delivery of service to our customers.  Most also present challenges to manage and secure them.  It is important to adopt the trends that present a value proposition to our businesses quickly to create competitive advantage, yet with balance toward security and management.

If you have a newly adopted technology, that has worked well for your organization or a question about an upcoming one, I welcome your input

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