Having spent the last 12-18 months refining and focusing IQ Cloud’s services and strategy to deliver Cloud-based services that help consumer-centric brands (retailers, FMCG co’s, Hospitality etc) to integrate their social and mobile activities with their internal business processes and systems it’s great to see that we’re hitting four of the ‘Big Five’ IT trends for the next half a decade.

Dion Hinchcliffe’s article last week helps reinforce the drive for utilising IT to drive the business, but that doing so doesn’t look and feel like it did only a couple of years ago.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe/the-big-five-it-trends-of-the-next-half-decade-mobile-social-cloud-consumerization-and-big-data/1811

As our approach centres on cloud-delivery of socially-integrated applications we were particularly impressed with Dion’s appraise of the demand for, and the challenges with Social Business and Cloud Computing…

2) Social Media – Social Business and Enterprise 2.0

While mobile phones technically have a broader reach than any communications device, social media has already surpassed that workhorse of the modern enterprise, e-mail. Increasingly, the world is using social networks and other social media-based services to stay in touch, communicate, and collaborate. Now key aspects of the CRM process are being overhauled to reflect a fundamentally social world and expecting to see stellar growth in the next year. As Salesforce’s Marc Benioff was very clear in his dramatic keynote at Dreamforce last month, leading organizations are becoming social enterprises.

There now seems to be hard data to confirm this view: McKinsey and Company is reporting that the revenue growth of social businesses is 24% higher than less social firms and data from Frost and Sullivan backs that up across various KPIs. The message is that companies are going to — and have every reason to — be using social media as a primary channel in the very near future, if they aren’t already. It’s time to get strategic.

Challenges to social media adoption

  • Social media is not an IT competency. Simply put, the human interaction portion of social computing is generally not IT’s strong suit. It tends to be treated as just another application to roll out instead of being integrated meaningfully into the flow of work.
  • The more significant value propositions of social requires business transformation. Maintaining a Facebook page and Twitter account is relatively straightforward and necessary, but it usually won’t generate significant growth, revenue, or profits by itself either. The more profound and higher order aspects of social media including peer production of product development, customer care, and marketing require deeper rethinking of business processes.

Key adoption insight

There are a growing number of established social media adoption strategies, but probably one of the most effective is to engage by example. Both leadership inside the company as well as top representatives to the outside world must engage in social channels to show how they’d like change to happen.

Related: Reconciling the enterprise IT portfolio with social media

3) Cloud computing

Of all the technology trends on this list, cloud computing is one of the more interesting and in my opinion, now least controversial. While there are far more reasons to adopt cloud technologies than just cost reduction, according to Mike Vizard perceptions of performance issues and lack of visibility into the stack remain one of the top issues for large enterprises. Yet, among the large enterprise CTO and CIOs I speak with, cloud computing is being adopted steadily for non-mission critical applications and some are now even beginning to downsize their data centers. Business agility, vendor choice, and access to next-generation architectures are all benefits of employing the latest cloud computing architectures, which are often radically advanced compared to their traditional enterprise brethren.

Challenges to cloud computing adoption

  • Concerns of control. When jobs depend on IT being up and working, then you can be sure there will be reluctance to adopt the cloud. There’s also little question that not going the cloud route will mean short-term job security, but at what ultimate cost? Never mind that many CIOs and heads of IT just feel they can’t yet trust the cloud, despite many cloud providers being more reliable than internal infrastructure (Google recently reported four nines across its Gmail and Google Apps services.)
  • Reliability and performance perceptions. Widespread outages by Amazon and Microsoft in the past has set back cloud adoption a minor amount, yet uptime is still extraordinary good by most enterprise standards. More of an issue is moving the enormous datasets that enterprises now posses into and out of the cloud quickly enough. Backhaul and other methods will need to improve substantially to address this satisfactorily for large enterprises.

Key adoption insight

Until cloud computing workloads can be seamlessly transferred back and forth between a company’s private cloud and public/hybrid cloud, adoption will be held back and favored largely for greenfield development. Technologies are now emerging to make this possible, however, and for now, companies should invest in cloud standards (to the extent they exist today) to build private clouds in order to be in position to start selectively transferring services out on a trial basis (and being able to bring them back in safely as needed.)

Related: Fixing IT in the cloud computing era.

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