Review of 2011 and Thoughts on 2012

2011 in my mind will be viewed as the launching point of a digital revolution. The momentum started in 2010 and kicked into overdrive in 2011. The rapid adoption of tablets and Smartphones fueled an aggressive development of mobile applications, while E-Book sales increased at a remarkable pace. Meanwhile, the world continued to go social in ways that few would have imagined. World leaders felt the power of Social Media, as revolutions expanded through the organizing power of Facebook and Twitter. Business leaders came to grips with the power of social media, as skepticism waned and social business turned the corner. Data continued to grow exponentially, expanding the gulf between available data and meaningful insight. Lastly, 2011 marked the year that cloud computing burst onto the enterprise landscape – In fact, 2011 may eventually be viewed as the year of the Cloud.

These factors combined to drive an aggressive digital expansion that in most cases happened through isolated initiatives driven by marketing. Businesses with indirect channels to market looked towards direct to consumer models. Regulated industries embraced the opportunity of social media, while addressing its risk. Customer experience became the mantra for many businesses, as re-inventing customer relationships topped most priority lists. New digital executive positions were created in response to growing questions about effective governance models. The notion of holistic digital strategies was in fashion again, and innovation and operating dexterity rounded out the top priorities for most executives in 2011.

Additionally, we witnessed the following:

  1. The growing use of Facebook and Twitter for business purposes
  2. Location-based services like Shopkick and Foursquare ushered in the location age
  3. A rush to applications, as mobile apps popped up everywhere
  4. The growing notion of an Enterprise App store
  5. Second screen experience strategies that sought brand engagement on mobile devices
  6. Gaming techniques being considered for all types of business purposes
  7. Companies focused on broader social applications and an early stage evolution to social business
  8. Multiple forms of data flowing through traditional and untraditional channels – “Big Data”
  9. The start of the “Bring your computer to work” phenomena
  10. Cloud productivity apps going mainstream and numerous cloud infrastructure advancements emerged – highlighted by Amazon Web services and Openstack

With 2011 behind us, what’s in store for 2012?

First, I believe the pace of mergers and acquisitions will accelerate, especially in the Big Data space. IDC believes that “Big Data will earn its place as the next ‘must have’ competency in 2012 – I agree. As presented in several previous posts, I firmly believe that future competitive advantage will come from analytic competency and an ability to prescribe outcomes through the analysis of Big Data. Data will increasingly come from instrumented channels (mobile devices, monitors, sensors, etc.), and companies will look for ways to exploit its insight. However, privacy concerns will continue, driving companies to look for incentive models that help overcome them.

Second, digital initiatives will be connected to business outcomes. Businesses will focus on rationalizing digital initiatives across the portfolio and aligning those initiatives with core business objectives. There will be a stronger focus on organizational silos and a movement towards effective digital governance models. These steps must be taken, if ALL collected data is to be captured and analyzed for its insight. Insight is the key to the type of iterative strategic planning required by our fast paced business environment. Decision quality must improve – and real-time insight is what drives that improvement. I expect to see more companies tackle the tough issues that have prevented progress in the past – driven by competitive pressures and ongoing business model disruption.

Third, a growing percentage of new commercial enterprise apps will be deployed on cloud platforms. In fact, IDC believes that in 2012, that number could be as high as 80%. I think that’s overstated, as security and data sensitivity issues will keep that number lower. However, as cloud computing security improves, and other steps are taken to improve customer confidence, companies will feel more comfortable putting sensitive data in the cloud. In addition, the combination of mobile apps and the proliferation of new devices will drive an increasing demand for cloud applications.

Fourth, social media will continue its transition to social business. We will see a gradual inclusion of social capabilities across business processes, and a tighter integration with existing digital assets. Social data will increasingly become part of decision processes across the risk and opportunity spectrum. It will be interesting to watch the impact of Google+ on existing social strategies – one that I believe has the potential to be significant given the Google portfolio (e.g., YouTube, Search, etc.). More companies will show measurable business impact from their social initiatives.

Finally, the mobile revolution will continue at warp speed – there is no slowing this train. The projections associated with mobile device adoption are staggering. With this aggressive adoption comes the continued rush to develop value-creating mobile applications. These applications will increasingly collect data on consumer behavior and preferences and become a key source of personalization insight. The mobile phenomena will continue to fuel the growth of social networking, as well as the expansion of location-based services. In addition, in the not too distant future, the enterprise application deployment experience will move towards the consumer App store experience.

Well that’s it – I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Happy New Year! Enjoy the Ride!

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