Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for reflection on the past year, planning for the new year, and resolutions for improvement. By now you’ve probably read a dozen “Top Tech Trends of 2013” articles (here are Gartner’s and Mashable’s), sprinkled with a retrospective or two about the trends of 2012. Mobile, Cloud, Big Data, Social Media, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Personal Cloud, In-memory Computing, Consumerization – there is no shortage of buzzwords to distract you from actually making progress and getting things done. Fortunately, I’m not here to talk to you about the hottest trends of 2013 (you already know all about them, I’m sure) but instead talk about the things you must do in 2013 to keep your business ahead of the curve.
Death to on-premise software!
If your business owns servers, hosts internal software, requires a VPN for folks outside of the office, or has rogue Access databases running mission-critical applications – it’s time to cut it out. This has to be the year where you replace your on-premise applications or at least have a solid end-of-life plan established for them. More and more businesses are trying to figure out how to get out of the business of hosting and supporting software, freeing up resources for more innovative value-add ventures, and there are fewer and fewer excuses for running your own data center. By the end of 2013 if you aren’t fully transitioned to the cloud, or at least operating on a solid transition plan, you’ll be next in line with those businesses ripe for disruption.
Take mobile seriously
Your customer-facing teams must be mobile-enabled with custom applications. Like any good CIO, you’ve probably at least opened up access to one or more packaged mobile apps to your sales and field service workers. If you’re ahead of the curve you’ve equipped them with tablets or allowed them to use their own equipment in the field. In 2013 you need to take it to the next level for both your employees and your customers. Custom, line of business apps that bring together contextual information from across your applications are what will make the difference. But don’t stop with enabling your employees; your customers are crying out for new ways to interact via mobile devices as well. By the end of 2013 your goal should be to have at least one new custom internal and one new custom external mobile app.
IT is no longer the gatekeeper
With cloud computing, it no longer takes an army of techies and months of due diligence to build very powerful applications. Whether you like it or not, lines of business within your company can and will go around you to get what they need if their experience with IT has been less than enabling. 2013 is the year to break down the barriers and make a transformation within the IT department to become true business enablers. Embrace the independence of each department while providing the guardrails and safety net to make sure they don’t drive off of a cliff. You may have to let them make some mistakes, but they have to see you and your department as an open and collaborative resource for innovation in 2013.
Social data is critical to innovation
Using social media to simply monitor your brand was so 2012 – you have to be mining the wealth of data being produced by consumers every day and using it take strategic action in 2013. An intern with access to your social media profiles isn’t going to cut it. Not only should your company be interacting with your community or prospects and customers via social channels, but the right people need to be listening to the conversations happening around your industry and monitoring sentiment. For CIOs, this means close collaboration with sales, marketing, customer service, communications and R&D to ensure that the right processes and systems are in place for the right people to be able to engage in social media. Going beyond engagement, all the data being produced in social channels is vitally important if it can be analyzed correctly. Why is this data important? By the end of 2013 your company could use it to predict market trends before they happen. CIOs and IT departments who can help their businesses lead market trends will completely change their positions within the business.
Increase skills, capacity, and innovation with crowdsourcing
The power of the crowd has been a hot topic, but its power is still largely untapped by a majority of enterprises. The combination of diverse skills, problem-solving methods, and hungry innovators has opened up a completely new way of solving problems once limited to only direct employees or contractors. Whether you leverage the crowd for design, development, video production, or that problem-child project that has been stalled for months, wading into the crowdsourcing waters and realizing what can be achieved by external communities will change the way you think about approaching and resourcing future projects. A side benefit – some free PR by pushing out public challenges. In 2013, think beyond your team and get more for less.
So in addition to staying on top of the top tech trends for 2013, take a few minutes to evaluate how the priorities listed here stack up against your plan for this year. Chasing the shiny new penny is always tempting, but not at the expense of building a solid foundation that will serve the enterprise for years to come. Here’s to hoping your 2013 is fruitful, prosperous, and innovative!
Are there other priorities that CIOs would be wise not to ignore this year? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @appirio!
Nick Hamm is member of Appirio’s Technology team and is responsible for Appirio’s Cloud Asset Library. He is a Salesforce MVP and has helped over 200 companies across a wide variety of industries transform the way they do business by implementing cloud solutions. You can reach Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org or @hammnick