Need For Speed: the Top 3 Tech Priorities for the Next 5 Years

Predicting what the key technology priorities will be in five years is a challenging game. Companies that stay ahead of the curve can gain a clear competitive advantage, but choosing the wrong direction can be costly.

What we're hearing from our customers is that there are three main priorities that will shape IT strategy over the next half decade. If there's an overarching theme to these, it's speed; wanting better but also quicker business processes.

Business Intelligence and Analytics

The primary focus for many businesses is currently business intelligence (BI) and analytics, and multiple agile BI tools are being embraced to address specific business problems.

While a multi-tool environment can be difficult and costly to maintain, Forrester expects it to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Some businesses may reduce their number of BI tools to a more manageable level, while others will just manage the multi-tool environment better.

Users are also seeking more BI control. They don't want to wait for IT to fulfil requests; they want data at their fingertips. This means self-service features, such as semantic layers and search capabilities, will become increasingly critical.

A third major growth area for BI is mobile, with mobile devices now outnumbering traditional computers by 2:1. This year, smartphone sales are expected to grow by 20%, generating 20% of all IT sales and 57% of all IT market growth.

Omni-channel

Today's customers are highly connected. They expect to experience and interact with brands across different channels, including virtual and physical dimensions, on-shore and overseas.

Consumers will increasingly research brands online, but then visit a store to pick up purchases. And they will also use stores as ‘showrooms’ before buying goods online. According to Carsales.com research, 95% of customers research online before buying, and 40% of mobile users are shopping online through their device.

To embrace this, businesses and retailers need to provide consistency across different channels, offering the same merchandise, promotions and customer service. Integrating ERP and e-commerce solutions is vital to ensure demand can be met and products delivered.

Document automation

The long-promised move to the paperless office is still very much in transition. Many companies are struggling to integrate paper documents with online systems, particularly as records often need to be archived for compliance.

Dealing with this manually is difficult and expensive. One estimate puts the cost of processing accounts payable documents at $10 to $15 per record. This is driving adoption of document automation and archiving technologies to take the pain away.

Invoice automation solutions also allow businesses to optimise the process, and lower the cost of processing supplier invoices.

In each of these, we can see an increased ‘need for speed’; an impatience for technology to not just make life easier, but also quicker. Employees want answers instantly, clients want immediate responses, customers want rapid fulfilment.

Agile information and analysis is the future, with a focus on being able to react, adapt and beat competitors at lightning speed and accuracy.