Though the year’s just beginning, a number of IT trends are becoming readily visible that could spell the difference between success and failure for today’s small and mid-sized company. Why so critically important? Because organizations are becoming more dependent than ever on IT solutions; not only to keep the lights on, but to drive and enhance business itself.
Such momentum toward a higher-value role for IT is a widely shared expectation by tech experts. Visionary among them is Bill Nemeth, president and CEO of Mirifex, the nation’s fastest-growing privately-held business and technology consulting firm with offices in Columbus.
Smart Business recently spoke with Nemeth about top IT trends soon to play a pivotal role in business.
What are some major trends that businesses need to be aware of?
The major emerging trends in IT revolve around three basic business requirements: (1) enabling an organization to best protect its data; while (2) making data more accessible to an increasingly mobile work force; and (3) integrating its communications capability in a Web-based world. As a result of these needs, the top three IT spending priorities for 2007 are forecast to be security, wireless and communication/Web services in that order.
Because it’s difficult for businesses to adequately address all of these needs with conventional internal resources, there will be a mass migration in the immediate future toward managed services, where companies purchase fractional expertise in only the areas best suited to their needs. In a recent study fielded by Mirifex in cooperation with Ohio State University and Smart Business Network, a vast majority of 100 nationwide companies said they are now or soon will be moving toward a managed services environment. Look for managed-service providers to create technical support communities and customized workgroups to add greater value to their services.
Drawing these trends together is an up-and-coming realization that technologies are best leveraged when grouped together. VoIP, for instance, is simply Internet-based telephony. Its value to an organization is increased exponentially by integrating it with such innovations as telepresence lifelike video conferencing. In this example, technology grouping begins to address the whole communications package required by the organization, rather than just a piece of it.
So watch for ‘collaboration’ as a new buzzword in IT. It’s perhaps a single word that best captures emerging trends in total.
What trends are ‘out’ or have run their course?
Out will be solutions that are isolated in scope.
For example, though a high-growth spend category for 2006, VoIP will not be sustained as a simple cost-cutting solution over conventional phone lines. What you’ll see is VoIP as part of a broader collaborative communications package.
Out will be stand-alone intrusion-prevention systems, too. They will increasingly be incorporated into unified threat-management systems.
It’s also rumored that rollbacks in Sarbanes-Oxley requirements will reduce spending for compliance with them.
Again, look for isolated technology activities or solutions to give way to heightened-value bundled solutions.
What’s the trend in terms of spending on IT by small and mid-sized businesses?
About half of small and mid-sized companies expect their IT budgets to increase significantly in 2007. Of those, more than a third are planning increases of more than 20 percent. Over the past year, for example, spending on wireless local area networks (LANs) was up 21.5 percent. And spending on VoIP rose 20.9 percent.
Businesses in vast numbers are seeing these investments worthy because of the business value IT is proving to extend. It’s becoming a major emphasis within overall business plans and an area where companies can differentiate themselves above competitors.
Whether in the office or personally, spamming is creating quite a logjam for most. Is there a light at the end of this dark tunnel?
Unfortunately not. While we hold out hope for the government’s help, the reality is that it is a booming industry. Consider this: in November of last year, an estimated 75 billion spams were sent per day worldwide. That’s up from 63 billion messages per day in October. It’s a result of spammers outfoxing efforts to stop them. Most recently, they have been converting spam from text to image formats in order to fool filters. Image spam has doubled over the past year and now accounts for roughly a third of spam volume.
To beat spammers, companies will need to upgrade to next-generation e-mail security platforms capable of adapting to changing threat vectors. You’ll see these solutions made available through managed e-mail and messaging services offered by many managed-services providers.
BILL NEMETH is president and CEO of Mirifex, the nation’s fastest-growing privately held business and technology consulting firm. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 891-1210, ext. 201.