This past year saw IT organizations shift more of their efforts to driving business improvement. As we turn our sights to 2011, a number of important technology developments will enable companies to better leverage real-time information, get closer to the customer and improve business agility.
1. Continued evolution of cloud deployment models
Cloud computing may be at the peak of the ‘hype cycle,' but a big reason to keep an eye on the cloud in 2011 is the continued emergence of different deployment models.
More organizations are adopting hybrid solutions that incorporate elements of both cloud and traditional on-premise software. In many cases, a hybrid approach can offer the kind of cost-efficient customization and control over data some organizations need, yet pure-play SaaS providers can't deliver.
Vendors are offering the ability to modularize data center capabilities into appliances that can be deployed in private and public clouds. This kind of flexibility will likely accelerate cloud computing adoption. Organizations will no longer have to make an either/or decision when it comes to cloud and on-premise applications. Plus, by taking some of their applications to the cloud, companies will save on energy costs and lower their carbon footprints.
2. Increased adoption of event-driven architecture
Event-driven architecture (EDA) is a software architecture for applications that detects and responds to significant changes in the state of a system or its environment. By adopting systems that are built around an EDA, businesses can better leverage real-time information to improve response times.
For instance, e-retailers can use EDA to trigger better responses to customer demographic information or specific buying patterns as the customer is shopping, thus increasing up-sell and cross-sell conversions.
Although event-driven behavior has been around for a while, EDA is catching on fast. Companies will begin to adopt event-driven capabilities in their business applications, e-commerce websites and CRM systems, allowing them to respond to events on a more human level.
3. Improved mobile technology for seamless multichannel retail
Consumers are demanding a consistent voice across all channels. Bridging these channels and integrating information and services across customer touch points will be more important than ever.
As more mobile devices adopt rich client software and powerful internal processors, increasingly sophisticated applications are being delivered. For retailers, the implications are significant. The National Retail Federation predicts that by 2015, shoppers will purchase $120 billion in goods and services through their mobile phones. Combining mobile, internet, kiosk and call center retail choices with multiple fulfillment options, all connected via network-based systems, afford seamless, transparent access to products regardless of channel.
4. Integration of social media data into business applications
As companies move away from the traditional "push" marketing model to interactive customer conversations, they will need to capture and leverage information from social media to proactively address customer issues and to engage them in more personalized, relevant ways.
This coming year will see an inflection point in companies' ability to augment their CRM with richer social data point - valuable information such as what customers say about you online, as well as their preferences, behaviors, product reviews and more.
An example of this is Facebook's Open Graph - a platform that lets e-retailers instantly get information about their visitors in order to tailor their offers and features to each person's interests and tastes.
Businesses could take personalization and segmentation to a new level by aggregating customer order information, product affinity, shopping patterns and social CRM information to develop an even wider view of the customer.
Alan MacLamroc, Executive Vice President, Chief Product & Technology Officer, CDC Software.
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond