Over the last several years, the information technology (IT) industry has undergone tremendous change, with several major shifts that affected the way we all performed our business: enterprise resource planning (ERP), Y2K, the Web (businesses with no other storefront), and customer relationship management (CRM), to name a few. Each of these was marketed as the catalyst, and without adoption of these technologies, your business would fail.
Today, the IT industry is still evolving, yet there’s no clear catalyst. So what does the future hold? In the next five years, we’ll likely see a tremendous change as some newer technologies become more mainstream and, thus, the investment comes down to where it can become a profitable venture.
Take satellite technology. Soon, you’ll be able to order McDonald’s from your car’s onboard navigation system. The store will recognize you and view your travel path, preparing your food in a just-in-time fashion. McDonald’s already has a speed pass where you swipe a card to pay. There will be no need for a person to man the payment window any longer.
How about home and business security? With future economies of scale for satellite technology, you’ll soon be able to view your house from your desktop, as the satellite will be able to pinpoint your address and street location. This presents a whole new way to keep track of your kids or the security of your house.
That’s a handful of years off, but what can we take advantage of now? Here are some useful trends.
- Consolidations. The proliferation of servers isn’t uncommon, as many firms have been decentralized; these firms now have several versions of servers, software, and licenses that create a tremendous drain on staffing and financial resources. Consolidate databases and e-mail systems into as few as possible, consolidate your servers into fewer and larger servers, and consolidated call centers.
- Customer relationship management. Understand the business process before bringing in software. Firms need to take a 360-degree view of the interactions with their customers to improve retention and increase profitability.
- Business intelligence. Next to employees, a company’s data assets are very important. Many firms are now taking advantage of interpreting their internal data and comparing to external data sources to get a better and quicker handle on trend identification in the marketplace.
- Voice over IP. Telephone systems and computer systems can now run over your Internet backbone between various company locations. This could substantially reduce your expense for long distance and for 1-800 conference calls.
- Workflow. Automate your paper flow and integrate with your databases to reduce the effort needed for purchasing, human resources, or administration.
- LINUX and open source. Switching to shareware or open tools that conform to industry standards and run on any platform can dramatically reduce long-term operating costs. The more you have in common with the market, the less you’ll pay for your computing operations. IBI