IT Trends for 2012: Social, Mobile, Virtual, and Ready to Get to Work

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January 2012
In This Issue:

"We have the opportunity here not only to 'take the pulse' of the IT industry on various topics -- adoption levels, HR activities, IT management strategies, and more -- but also to compare this year's snapshot with the past six years, giving us insight into the ever-changing landscape of business technology."

-- Joseph Feller, Editor

Welcome to the first issue of the 2012 volume of Cutter Benchmark Review. Whether you are a regular reader or here for the first time, we welcome you and look forward to a provocative, informative, and, above all, highly useful lineup of issues in 2012.

Before introducing the articles in this issue, there is a small bit of housekeeping to tend to as the coming year will bring some changes to CBR. First, as Managing Editor Cindy Swain explained on the inside cover, CBR is moving to a quarterly format. Second, after many years of insightful and talented stewardship, Gabriele Piccoli is stepping down as editor. In late 2006, it was Gabe who first invited me to write for CBR, leading to several years of writing for Cutter and its various publications. Throughout that time, I've never failed to benefit from Gabe's knowledge and acute understanding of the practical realities of the IT business. I am grateful I've had the opportunity to collaborate with him, and it is an honor to accept the position of CBR Editor. I am committed to delivering the same high-quality journal that Gabe has led our readers to expect over the years.

While some things change, others remain the same. CBR will continue to benefit from the efforts of a diligent and talented team. It is my pleasure to thank the following people: Managing Editor Cindy Swain, who ensures that CBR remains a highly valuable source of information and insight for Cutter's readership; Production/Editorial Manager Linda Dias, who oversees each issue's copy editing and production; Production Editor Tara Meads, who assists with proofreading; and, finally, Cutter Consortium President and CEO Karen Coburn and VP Anne Mullaney, who provide a fresh and focused vision for all of Cutter's resources. As an author, I have worked with each of them over the years and have personally benefited from their collective experience and constant professionalism.

Now onto the issue at hand: the seventh annual CBR issue on IT trends. We have the opportunity here not only to "take the pulse" of the IT industry on various topics -- adoption levels, HR activities, IT management strategies, and more -- but also to compare this year's snapshot with the past six years, giving us insight into the ever-changing landscape of business technology.

2011 was, to put it gently, an "interesting" year, where individuals, companies, and governments had to continue to adjust to new financial realities on a global scale. It was a year of challenges, but also a year of innovation, where we witnessed growth in various business technology spaces -- mobile computing, social computing, cloud computing, service-oriented computing, and Big Data, to name a few. In this issue, we'll explore these trends to help us get our bearings and set a course for 2012.

The core strength of any CBR lies with its authors. In this issue, we have two knowledgeable and experienced minds to bring to bear on our survey data.

Our academic author is Dennis A. Adams, an Associate Professor in the Department of Decision and Information Sciences in the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston (USA). Dennis is a regular contributor to both CBR and Cutter IT Journal (CITJ) and has been contributing to the annual CBR trends issue from the beginning. Elsewhere, his research on business leadership and the value of IT has been widely published in some of the most prestigious journals in the IT discipline.

Dennis presents his article with a fairly optimistic tone, noting that while organizations on the whole are far from "business as usual," our survey reveals a stable and forward-looking IT sector. He provides a sweeping bird's eye view of the data, drawing on several years of surveys from the CBR trends series to give us a big-picture understanding of some key trends. Dennis examines the competitive necessity driving the adoption of data analytics, looks at the complex relationship between internal staffing trends and IT outsourcing, highlights emerging activity in the mobile and cloud computing spaces, and analyzes the changing role of IT in terms of innovation and organizational activities. He complements his intelligent historical analysis with concrete practical advice for decision makers going forward.

Dennis's clear analysis of the evolution of data analytics and business intelligence, the changing profile of the IT workforce, and continued industry commitment to an increasingly mobilized and virtualized IT infrastructure all raise the same red flag. 2012 will be a year where success is tied to a firm's ability in building platforms (from semantic ontologies to integration platforms for a consumerized mobile infrastructure); in building relationships (with employees, suppliers, customers, and competitors); and in rethinking IT governance and management of IT staff. His practical advice serves as a good foundation for meeting these challenges.

Our practitioner author is returning CBR IT trends contributor Mike Sisco, a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Business Technology Strategies practice. Mike brings over 20 years of IT management and CIO experience to bear. In 2000, he created MDE Enterprises, Inc., to focus on "helping IT managers of the world achieve more success." Since then, he has written 14 books and more than 300 articles about managing technology resources.

In his article, Mike expresses a similar point of view as me and Dennis; namely, that although we are still very much in the grip of the crisis that defined the last few years, we can see some vigorous green shoots in the IT space. After providing us with a quick analysis of survey demographics -- an important piece of contextual data -- Mike turns to the question of IT hiring. He highlights both the promising trends toward stability and growth and examines the changing priorities of the IT sector. Mike then explores the other side of the hiring coin: outsourcing. In both instances, he insightfully puts staffing trends in the context of specific technology areas; in particular, the changing emphasis on mobility, cloud computing, and architecture. In the remainder of his article, Mike examines the cloud, business intelligence, education and training, the relationship between IT and the executive level of the firm, and the emergence of new technology practices, particularly the adoption of social media and the "consumerized" employee.

Mike's article raises some key issues. The relative "good" health of the IT sector, in the context of a still-struggling general economy, reinforces my belief that IT professionals will need to rethink the role of IT in 2012. Relationships with executive management, employees, and customers all need to be renegotiated in the coming year if IT is to continue to contribute significantly to organizations. Additionally, this is likely to be a challenging year for HR professionals, seeking to meet the increasing and, more important, changing demand for talent in the IT space.

I trust that both articles will help readers get a better feel for the current state of IT practice, put their own initiatives and decision making in context, and chart a clearer path for their organizations in 2012. As my first issue as editor, it was a decidedly easy task. We have an interesting, broad set of survey data and two extremely experienced analysts to bring key trends into focus. I hope you find the issue informative and helpful. I wish you a productive and successful 2012.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

This issue is the seventh annual CBR issue on IT trends. We have the opportunity here not only to "take the pulse" of the IT industry on various topics -- adoption levels, HR activities, IT management strategies, and more -- but also to compare this year's snapshot with the past six years, giving us insight into the ever-changing landscape of business technology.