Looking Into Technology’s Future: Four Predictions for 2014

    Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that we often don’t notice it until it’s fundamentally changed the tech landscape. Businesses are often suspicious of new technologies, worrying that they will disrupt accepted practices; however innovation has a way of disrupting the established way of doing things and replacing them with something better.

    CIOs constantly need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their IT strategies in the face of these changes. Take mobile devices for example. Once thought of as a consumer-only play, mobile devices have quickly morphed into essential workplace tools, which ultimately brought about the BYOD movement and forced enterprises to sync employee smartphones and tablets with company technology platforms.

    Looking ahead and considering the many tech trends bubbling up, here are four that will take hold, force CIOs to evaluate the way they look at their business model, and influence the way we work in 2014.

    1. Unified communications, meet Big Data – We all know big data to be the function that predicts the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections and the Grammy Awards, but enterprises can use big data gathered from their business phone systems to improve collaboration and productivity. Data gathered from call records can turn into actionable intelligence that companies can use to reveal patterns that expose relationships and potentially even behavior. For example, this type of data can tell a company if they are appropriately staff to manage the amount of calls coming into the contact center, when sales prospects are most likely to pick up the phone to maximize time spent tracking them down, and if a remote employee is as responsive as someone in the office with a similar job. This is a powerful revelation that will increase in adoption in 2014.

    2. Will a premise-only PBX offering still exist in 2014? – The short answer is yes, but the long answer is, not for much longer. The nature of how people work is changing and the idea of a standard office desk with a phone and computer monitor is quickly going away. Today’s modern worker wants the flexibility to work anytime, from anywhere, on any device, so to stay current, companies will have to adapt by adopting a hybrid communications solution fusing premise and cloud, or hosted services. With a hybrid solution, businesses have the choice and flexibility to have a cloud-only communications solution, a premise only solution, or both. It’s no longer going to be an either/or situation.  The shift to a hybrid standard of using a mixture of premise and cloud services will gain momentum in 2014, and a premises-only PBX will cease to exist in a few years.

    3. The difference between business apps and consumer apps will be indistinguishable – It’s a mobile world and the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and applications is altering our expectations with the technology we use. It’s important for businesses to note that employees and consumers are now one in the same and starting in 2014, employees are going to demand that business apps be as easy and comfortable to use as consumer applications. Workers will be able to use their mobile devices to access business apps such as Salesforce.com and IBM SameTime on the same devices and with the same ease as they do for personal connections – which could mean an increase in overall productivity and decrease in learning curves.

    4. Video will shift to a service vs. a standalone product – Video has its purpose in the workplace; however, the demand for video as a separate product offering will start to decrease in 2014. Instead, video will become part of a larger unified communications offering, which will include instant messaging, mobility, presence and collaboration capabilities – giving workers a dynamic set of features with which to collaborate on sales calls, meetings and conferences.

    Mobility, data management, applications, collaboration and cloud will be hot items for CIOs in 2014. What other enterprise IT predictions do you have for the coming year? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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