There at least five important Information Technology (IT) trends which should be viewed strategically. By this I mean that these trends will have a significant impact on markets and competition, and should be included in strategic planning for Corporate IT. These are:
- Open Source
- Cloud computing
- Mobile computing
- Data synchronization
- Internationalization and localization
One thing useful about strategic trends is that they can generate questions. Questions are more important in many cases than answers, for it is insightful questions which leads to insightful answers. Answers to irrelevant or unimportant questions are themselves unimportant and irrelevant.
Open source has been with us for a while, yet it is still not clearly understood or discussed in a sophisticated way much of the time. Open source has impacts on various dimensions of IT, including project management, marketing, licensing, and business models. Organizations and governments also have the opportunity to help fund open source projects which are generally a fraction of the cost of traditional and proprietary software development, and reap significant cost savings. Clearly many companies and organizations understand this, including IBM and its relationship to Open Source as well as countries involved in the OLPC project.
- What Open Source projects should we migrate towards?
- What Open Source projects should we invest in?
- What Open Source projects should we participate in?
Cloud and grid computing are both a network, hardware and software infrastructure as well as the software-as-a-service (SAAS) offerings available. Website hosting even on a shared infrastructure is a cloud opportunity as the hardware and software is managed as a service. Clouds and grids offer greater accessibility and scalability as well as improving infrastructure efficiency, driving costs lower.
- What systems and software can we deploy into cloud and grid environments?
- What systems and software can we move to software-as-a-service?
- What information should be located in the cloud?
With approximately half of the world with access to a mobile device, the need to support this platform will become more and more important. Extremely simple and usable interfaces for the mobile screen need to be deployed, as well as increasingly sophisticated applications (but again, with simple and usable interfaces) for the fast-growing smartphone market.
- What applications and information should be accessed via mobile devices?
- What new activities and behavior should be supported for mobile users?
- What kind of customer and employee mobile experience is provided?
Synchronization is the replication of software and information so that there are multiple copies across various devices. This is an increasingly de facto situation with information and data and makes backups more of an everyday occurrence. Synchronization can take place over a variety of networks, increasing accessibility, especially mobile computing experiences. Replication and synchronization have security issues as well as bandwidth and scaling requirements.
- Is important information and software being replicated and synchronized?
- What networks can and should be used for synchronization?
- How resilient is the network and information across devices?
Internationalization and Localization
Internationalization and localization, AKA i18n and l10n, are the design of interfaces so that they may support multiple languages, writing scripts and writing directionality (Left-Right/Top-Bottom). Localization is specifically the implementation of the specific language, script, and directionality, as appropriate for a given locale. Internationalization is design of a system which supports localization. There is greater growth in in the non-English web than the English web, and localization (and translation) will become more and more vital. 2lingual is a great example of a Google mashup based on two Google services: translation and search.
- What of our programs and services are internationalized?
- Which of our programs and services are localized to current and future target markets?
- Which of our programs and services can we localize?
- How can we use localized offerings to increase market share, recruit talent and partner?