The Clip ‘n’ Save Guide to What Will Matter to You in 2011

Happy New Year! The holidays are over, so let’s get back to
work and figure out what you’re going to have to study, budget for and
implement to stay on track in the coming year. There’s lots going on out there,
and with businesses still in "do more with less" mode, technology is
going to be relied on to improve productivity as much as ever. Here’s what’s
going to matter most to you and your job in the coming months.

The Clip n Save Guide to What Will Matter in 2011Tablets on the Job

We’ve got the iPad, we’ll soon have the BlackBerry add-on tablet, and
Android and Windows-based tablets will proliferate. Is your IT department ready
to accommodate them, and will you standardize on a platform? Gartner says 80
percent of businesses will offer comprehensive tablet support by 2013. Might as
well start now.

A Smartphone in Every

Despite the expanding universe of smartphones, almost all of
them can talk to the most common corporate mail servers. That means we have
e-mail pretty much figured out. Now comes the harder part: Delivering apps and
corporate data so that workers on the go have as much office connectivity as
they need to get their job done on nothing bigger than a BlackBerry screen. The
challenge: Those apps and that connectivity aren’t as universal as Microsoft’s
mail infrastructure.

Services on the March

And, since almost everyone in your organization has a
smartphone with GPS, you have to think about what you will do with the location
data? Businesses will look for applications and methods of taking advantage of
that info to improve productivity. The most obvious beneficiaries will be the
sales team, who’ll want to know where they’re going, who can be tracked, and
who can access their customer files as they drive up to the door.

Productivity via the

Here’s a stat to mull lover: There will be a 25-percent
reduction in IT labor hours by 2015, according to Gartner. Why? Outsourcing IT
services to cloud-based infrastructure providers. This year the big push will
be in data storage and retention. As companies see they can do it quickly and
safely via the cloud, more apps and more data will migrate to online
implementations. Getting that migration right will be IT’s biggest overall
challenge of the decade.

Data Growth and
Retrieval Solutions

With data storage costs low and only getting lower, no one
feels any urgency to control its growth. That’s fine – as long as you have an
efficient way of storing it and finding what you need. Scaling data storage and
retrieval in a growing enterprise is a complex task, made even more complicated
as you look beyond the server room to the cloud for possible solutions. You’ll deal
with issues of data center design, power management, and security as you strive
to make room for all those petabytes of data.

Network Capacity in
Expansion Mode

So now you’ve got all that data, how are you going to move
it around quickly? We’re seeing network interfaces go from 1Gbps all the way up
to100Gbps to keep information flowing. The problem: There are stops along the
way, like security checks, that slow down data traffic like road blocks.
Matching network equipment to improved speeds will be a challenge.

My Robot, My Pal

Finally, one more weird statistic from Gartner: By 2015, 10
percent of your online "friends" will be non-human. "Efforts to
systematize and automate social engagement will result in the rise of social
bots – automated software agents that can handle, to varying degrees,
interaction with communities of users in a manner personalized to each
individual." In other words, someday soon the CTO is going to ask IT to
come up with a way to interact with customers, suppliers, and partners that
feels human but is something else. I don’t think anyone’s quite ready for this one.
I can’t wait to see what happens.

— Don Willmott