Report explores why smart technology makes good business sense

Want to know what smart really means when it comes to technology? A recent report from Forrester Research makes understanding smart simpler.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Best I can tell, my fellow bloggers here at SmartPlanet have never covered a truly excellent report that was released late in 2009 by Forrester Research called "Smart Computing Drives the New Era of IT Growth." Even if they have and I'm being a search space cadet because I can't find their entries, it deserves another plug. You can actually download the whole report at the link I found, which is an extra bonus because this thing deserves wide readership as companies try to figure out where to spend their IT budgets.

Forrester uses the report to define what "smart" could mean in the context of technology, pointing out that much of the growth in information technology sales in 2009 came from software and such that falls into this category. Smart, in the dictionary sense, pertains to being alert and resourceful. This, it turns out, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smart computing. Indeed, Forrester believes there are five attributes of smart computing, which should held guide where you spend your money. There are:

  • Awareness: Examples would be radio frequency identification tags, global positioning system chips and other sensors that collect data about something (whether it's a person, product, place or process).
  • Analysis: This falls into the category of business intelligence and analytics, which can use the information collected through awareness technology to recommend whether or not you should act on it. For example, a series of video images collected by a security camera would be analyzed in context; after an analysis, a security system could decide whether the pattern represents an anomaly that should be addressed.
  • Alternatives: These are rules engines that determine courses of action when certain conditions are met or altered. The idea that "if this happens, then do this."
  • Actions: This is the specified outcome triggered through all the previous steps. Forrester uses the following examples: If a bus is stuck in traffic, a smart transportation would alert a commuter as to the update time of arrival. OR, if a physician prescribes a drug that is inappropriate for a patient because of allergy, he or she would be warned.
  • Auditability: Those of you who worry about compliance regulations will appreciate this one. But, basically, it's the notion that all the previous steps would be recorded and applied toward future scenarios. So, that systems would become smarter over time. Sort of the classic artificial intelligence concept.

One of the things this will mean from an IT spending standpoint is that industry-specific process applications and infrastructure technologies will become much more important, according to Forrester. In fact, vertical solutions will account for approximately $180 billion in IT spending by 2016, compared with a "mere" $11 billion in 2008. Foundation technologies, notably unified communications, will also see an uptick: Sales of unified communications are projected to hit $45 billion by 2016, according to Forrester.

So, this begs the question: Where is your company's technology budget focused? On technologies that merely perpetuate your current infrastructure or on technologies that will help your business be smarter within your given industry? The time to rethink the focus is here.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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