Mobile, 'enriched reality' top 2012 IT trends

Mobile-centric app and device strategies as well as next-generation analytics will provide context and deeper social user experience, reveals Gartner, which outlines top tech trends for coming year.

SINGAPORE--Mobile-centric strategies and next-generation analytics that better meet users' needs based on context and online behavior, otherwise known as "enriched reality", headline 2012's top 10 strategic tech trends, according to Gartner.

Bertrand Bidaud, the research firm's managing vice president of communication service providers (CSP) strategy, said the top IT trends for next year can be categorized into three groups, encompassing viewpoints from the "human", "business" and "IT department".

From the human viewpoint, he identified that media tablets would continue to evolve while more mobile-centric applications and interfaces would be introduced into the market.

Speaking at a press briefing here Tuesday, Bidaud pointed out such mobile strategies would also provide "contextual and social user experience", which he described as "enriched reality" in which information would be meshed with the real world. For example, location-aware apps that could inform users which bus stop they were at and the arrival times of buses that stopped there, he said.

As for the business viewpoint, the Gartner analyst said the Internet of things, also known as machine-to-machine communications, was an arena in which there were "lots happening". Defining it as having a network-connected device sending information back to the network, he predicted that beyond smart utility grids, the technology would be used by consumers to share community-specific information such as a weight-watchers group, for instance.

He also pointed to next-generation analytics as another trend to watch, where instead of analytics that predict what users want today, the technology will look to provide people's needs of tomorrow. As a use case for such analytical engines, Bidaud cited the example of how companies would be looking to push products to pregnant ladies according to common needs associated with the phases of pregnancy these women were in.

Lastly, in the IT department viewpoint, he said the rise of enriched reality and next-generation analytics would have an impact on the infrastructure-end of things. As such, he noted that innovation on the server-end, in particular, extreme low-energy servers, would emerge in the coming year.

Big data, in-memory computing and cloud computing were the other three trends to watch, he added.

IT budgets in limbo
According to a Gartner survey, in terms of tech budgets for next year, 43 percent of respondents globally indicated their organizations would increase IT budget in 2012 compared with 2011, while 15 percent stated otherwise.

Drilling into regional findings, the survey--conducted in July this year--noted that 52 percent of Asia-Pacific companies intended to increase their budgets, while 13 percent were planning to cut back. These figures compared positively to North America where a lower 37 percent were looking at increased IT budgets, and Europe with 33 percent, it showed.

Bidaud noted that since the survey was conducted, global events had added "even more uncertainty" into the picture. In general, though, with regard to IT spending, he said most companies "have their foot above the brake pedal and have not stepped down on it, but are not accelerating anymore".

Possible regulations for social data
Within the Singapore market, customer relationship management (CRM) would play a key role in retaining customers once they moved beyond price considerations, said Praveen Sengar, principal research analyst for enterprise software at Gartner, who was also a speaker at the briefing.

He highlighted that one of the top CRM priorities for companies here would be to enable multi-channel marketing campaigns rather than "isolated" ones, as the latter tended to cause the campaign to fail. Explaining, Sengar said if a company ran its marketing campaign only on mobile and online platforms, and turned away consumers who visited their retail outlets to redeem the offer, this would represent missed opportunities for additional business.

As for top CRM challenges, he pointed out that the local regulatory environment could be changing in light of the pending Data Protection Bill in Singapore.

The analyst told ZDNet Asia at the sidelines after the briefing that there was "momentum" building for stricter data privacy regulations following global events such as Arab Spring, and he reckoned legislation might be underway to limit the way social data was shared and stored in the enterprise space.

"Restrictions could be in requiring social networking sites and Web companies to host their data centers locally, as well as having a tighter compliance environment for shared data," Sengar suggested, noting that this could stifle the growth of social CRM uptake in Singapore.

Industry observers and vendors earlier predicted that social CRM, despite still in its infancy, could see burgeoning demand as the need to monitor and manage the flood of social data was critical to enhancing businesses' customer strategy.


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