Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015 fall into three main categories: merging the real world and the virtual world, intelligence everywhere, and the new IT reality emerges. Essentially, 2015 will prove that technology is making it's way into all parts of our lives and that there is no point in looking for the nearest escape route. It isn't there. Instead, take a look at what's in store and figure out where you will start in your organization.
Here is a quick look at Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015…
Merging the Real World and the Virtual World
1. Computing Everywhere
We are now past the post-PC era. Our world is going to consist of bring-your-own-device strategies, virtual reality, and a growing number of screens surrounding you and becoming logical end points.
Because the computing environment is expanding, the focus is shifting from serving the device to serving the user. If you have sales reps, start thinking about how are you adapting the overall environment (think work, car, and home) to elevate their performance? This is going to pose challenges to IT as they lose control of typical user endpoint devices, so expect growing pains. But ultimately when executed well, it will boost performance by meeting user needs in every environment.
2. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is the least of it; we are in the year of the Internet of People, Information, Places, and Things – it's now the Internet of (Every)things.
People are craving information. Our culture expects to be able to quickly find something new, something that can help them improve their activities, and more. Why not break down old corporate barriers and allow your teams to thrive together by encouraging sharing of information about leads, contacts, objections from the field and fresh ideas to help everyone perform better?
3. 3D Printing
No, 3D printing is not new. But, 3D printing is newly strategic. While it might not directly affect every business, it will be a game changer for many. Think about the effect printing new skin, food, and your very own prototype will have. You can move quickly and without all of the infrastructure we use to demand.
If the product your company sells is something that can be 3D printed, why not take advantage of the technology and allow your reps to carry a model of a few new products to save on costs? When customers can hold potential products you are able to connect with them on a deeper level. Perhaps you could use the technology to get feedback on product options before they are ready to go to market? Using this format allows your reps, and maybe even select customers, to be a part of the product development cycle feedback loop.
4. Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics
Systems are constantly gathering information about you, without you even realizing it. Today, the very best analytics are embedded into your applications so that you don't even realize you are providing feedback. This will become the norm.
Information is knowledge. When you have a good understanding of how your sales teams are using the tools you give them it helps you iterate and improve. You might find out that the material you thought would get used most isn't the case, or the feature you dismissed was the one everyone was looking for. When you have insights into how the tools are being used you have data to drive you to your next decision.
5. Context-Rich Systems
Everything becomes clearer with context. Contextual details that would pleasantly surprise us in 2014 – like realizing that Evernote labeled the random note you "scratched" from your 10:30am appointment with the appropriate titled based on your calendar – will become expected. Apps will link with systems and get a more complete picture of who you are and what you are doing so the information provided to you is most relevant.
Your reps should be spending their time selling, and if you can leverage systems to help them be more efficient, they will become more effective. Meeting them where they are with helpful information can be a simple step to elevate your organization's technologies. Autocomplete a field in a CRM interface based on their location to save them time, again and again. Think about saving each rep a few minutes each day and you're on your way to realizing sales force productivity (link).
6. Smart Machines
Three types of smart machines will continue to grow this year – Movers (autonomous vehicles), Sages (information-based helpers), and Doers (machine-focused helpers).
Companies like Rio Tinto are already reinventing mining with autonomous vehicles, a mover smart machine, so it's not far off to start brainstorming use cases for different areas of your business where you can start planning for robotic assistance to improve efficiencies. Could a smart machine check out your clients at a cash register while you prepare their meal or identify waste in a lab and dispose of it appropriately while you continue to work?
The New IT Reality Emerges
7. Cloud/Client Computing
The year of the "follow me" applications – apps that dynamically use all devices available at once. When you wake up, drive to work and even at the office. These apps are independent of devices to create the best user experience possible.
If you're already using a CRM that stores your data in the cloud and delivers it to multiple devices then you have a head start. If not, you should consider ways to manage data that will be scalable, manageable and efficient. When your reps pick up their smartphone, should they have access to the same or complementary data that they have on their laptops? Of course! They are expecting that.
8. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure
Most anything you imagine in the future will have a software component or as Gartner describes it "everything is programmable" and this is an "API economy".
What can you connect your tools to? Can you connect your CRM to your calendar? Can you connect your rep's iPad to her car stereo? Can you pull data from your fulfillment database and use it in marketing? The answer is yes. In today's world there are unlimited access points that can improve business processes and provide greater efficiencies. All they need is for someone to make the connection. Don't be afraid to dream and ask yourself, "What if?" when you're thinking about new tools and technologies for your team.
9. Web-Scale IT
Large cloud service provider capabilities + enterprise = the foundation for the digital future.
Approach this in stages, start with connecting teams within your company for fast continuous improvements. Not everyone can be Amazon or Google, but companies everywhere can see cost savings and time efficiencies from the creation of new applications and services. What if your sales, marketing, and training teams were working towards common goals, building and utilizing the same software to make it happen?
10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
All roads lead through security. It's as simple as that.
Don't let the notion that "all roads lead through security" scare you. Start by realizing that it is not possible to provide a 100% secure environment, apply sophisticated risk management and mitigation tools instead. Also, look at the applications that you are deploying - if you are relying on perimeter defense forces to secure your networks, plan out ways to build them directly into your application so the system is taking an active role in it's own security.
Today as an enterprise and as an individual, it's time to figure out what technologies to incorporate to be more successful in 2015. There are a lot of options. Where will you get started?
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