IT Trends for 2011: Moving Forward After a Tough Year

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In this Issue

In this issue:
Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 00:00

"In this issue we examine the range of IT developments that have either surfaced or endured in the past year and look back across previous years to see how the technology landscape is evolving."

-- Gabriele Piccoli, Editor

This issue of Cutter Benchmark Review is the sixth installment in our annual series forecasting technology trends. As faithful readers know, in this issue we examine the range of IT developments that have either surfaced or endured in the past year and look back across previous years to see how the technology landscape is evolving. We also reflect on the multitude of contributing factors that will influence your decision-making processes as you consider your options for change (or staying the course) in the near future. Finally, this is where I take a bit of time to thank the team that makes CBR possible: Managing Editor Cindy Swain, who helps me select the topics and ensures that we stay reasonably on schedule and produce an issue with a high return on reading; Linda Dias, who oversees the production of each issue, working alongside teammates Lori Goldstein, Tara Meads, and Bob Sprague; and, of course, Cutter Consortium President and CEO Karen Coburn and VP Anne Mullaney, who provide much needed guidance.

2010 was certainly challenging for most of us in one way or another. It was a year of belt-tightening and tough choices, and very few, either collectively or individually, escaped entirely unscathed from the changing landscape of financial turmoil and instability. Businesses struggled to keep their footing in a shifting terrain that at times felt like quicksand, and for many of us the difficulties presented by the sustained upheaval left little room for doing anything more than holding tight. In fact, aside from perhaps bankruptcy lawyers and repo men for whom the recession has undoubtedly proven to be a boon to business, financial challenges were on the forefront of most minds at all levels of the workforce, from executives on down. So what are the technologies and IT trends that have emerged despite (or perhaps as a result of) this instability, and which others have continued to move full steam ahead with no real fluctuation? Equally important, which have begun the slow fade into obscurity?

As usual, we have enlisted the help of a pair of top-notch experts to assist with interpreting the results of our survey and provide us with answers to these crucial questions. You should already know them, as both are returning contributors to CBR, sharing with us once again their expertise and experience. They analyze and predict the trends that are likely to surface in 2011 and discuss past years' highs and lows in technology development and use, paying particular attention to our most recent past. Providing us with an in-depth and astute exploration of the survey results, our contributors offer us insight into both emerging and receding IT trends that you either have considered or most likely will consider in the coming months.

Our academic contributor is Dennis Adams, Associate Professor in the Decision and Information Sciences Department at the University of Houston (USA). A staple of CBR, Dennis is the academic voice on both of our yearly installments, this issue and the issue on IT budgeting. Providing our view from the business side of the table is Mike Sisco, a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium's Enterprise Risk Management & Governance and Business-IT Strategies practices. He is also founder of MDE Enterprises, Inc., an IT manager training company whose mission is to provide practical insight and tools to help IT managers achieve more success. Mike is a regular contributor to CBR, and his real-world experience and practical guidance offer us much to think about.

Dennis begins his contribution on a reservedly optimistic note, diving quickly into the various IT areas that our survey covered. He provides us with a clear overview and thoughtful analysis of the results, moving purposefully from interpretation to forecasting in each area. Starting with green technology, which seems to be on most people's minds these days, through cloud computing, business intelligence, innovation, and new tools, to name a few, Dennis helps us make sense of our past years' experiences before moving us forward. I particularly draw your attention to his concise overview of outsourcing trends since 2006, which lays out the beginnings of a big-picture view that will continue to grow each year as we continue to ask the important questions in our surveys. Concluding with a set of vital questions for managers to consider as they move forward, Dennis leaves us with some key ideas to think about as we make crucial decisions.

As a complement (and sometimes a distinct counterpoint) to Dennis's piece, Mike offers a somewhat less optimistic overall view of the past year. Providing an interesting and sometimes contradictory view to Dennis's interpretation of the data, Mike delves into an analysis of the various trends that were surveyed and offers some clarity with which to consider the implications of the results. His thoughts on the complexities of outsourcing as well as hiring and staffing are particularly insightful, and he concludes his piece with a solid set of guidelines and suggestions for managers to consider this year.

In this issue, we take the opportunity to look back over five years' worth of survey results in addition to the 2011 forecast, and the overview we provide is eye-opening on many levels. Combined, I believe the two sometimes-opposing viewpoints of our contributors will give you much to think about as you come to your own conclusions. I hope that you find this annual IT trends issue of CBR interesting and useful and that it gives you plenty of food for thought as you evaluate your technology use and priorities for this year.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

This issue of Cutter Benchmark Review is the sixth installment in our annual series forecasting technology trends. As faithful readers know, in this issue we examine the range of IT developments that have either surfaced or endured in the past year and look back across previous years to see how the technology landscape is evolving. We also reflect on the multitude of contributing factors that will influence your decision-making processes as you consider your options for change (or staying the course) in the near future. We believe the two sometimes-opposing viewpoints of our contributors will give you much to think about as you come to your own conclusions. We hope that you find this annual IT trends issue of CBR interesting and useful and that it gives you plenty of food for thought as you evaluate your technology use and priorities for this year.