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Where IT will take you in 2002

By Steve Nossel

The Country Manager for Intel South Africa provides his vision of the key IT trends and issues for business in 2002…

THE major challenge facing IT departments this year is to get the right IT infrastructure in place to ensure they can successfully address five critical trends:

* taking full advantage of web services;

* realising true supply chain integration;

* getting customer relationship management to work;

* implementing security policies throughout the organisation;

* and providing true mobility to staff through full integration of wireless devices and mobile PCs.

This year we’ll begin to see high-end servers take on the might of mainframes as organisations realise the cost efficiencies of back-end clustering on open industry standard servers. The cost benefit is too compelling to be ignored in today’s economic climate.

Web Services will bring a whole new dimension to e-business. They will transform the speed at which organisations can develop applications and will redefine what good supply chain management is and what good customer knowledge is. Web Services will be like fuel-injection for e-business and anyone sticking with the old ways of working will find themselves stalling in the slow-lane.

2002 will see us redefine the way we think about mobility – if you thought the growth in mobile phone usage was phenomenal you ain’t seen nothing yet! Watch out because the mobile Internet will influence every moment of our waking day. And the impact on businesses will be even bigger – we’ll see organisations change their entire business models to take advantage of the new services that will be available and IT departments will face the huge challenge of integrating and synchronising a multitude of different devices.

E-learning will be on more and more people’s timetables in 2002. Companies will realise the benefits of interactive, multimedia training as well as the potential cost efficiencies from reduced travel expenses and reduced time out of the office. Intel itself has saved thousands of dollars this year through using e-learning globally.

The weakest link in most organisation’s security systems is that they insist on a ‘fortress mentality’ yet 80% of security breaches come from the inside. Implementing security at many different levels (in hardware and in software) is vital and just as importantly companies must develop policies for their staff to adhere to. Security must be treated as a strategic priority, and over the next year we’ll see auditors start to insist on it.

Next year I think the IT industry will have to change the way that it looks at the issue of power. Instead of thinking of it in terms of computers overheating we’ll all have to consider making efficient use of power for environmental reasons and to save money. The debate about how best to manage resources is set to grow throughout the IT community.

2002 will be the year that companies get CRM to “do what it says on the tin”. The mistake many companies have made is to invest in lots of technology but to continue collecting data in vast stove- pipes of stand alone data. Next year, we’ll see companies address this by integrating CRM information to make the data work for them – after all you can’t provide a service if you don’t know your customer.

Standards will play an increasingly important role in e-business as organisations realise the real difference which they can make.

The acceleration of broadband deployment will be one of the most exciting things that will happen over the next year bringing as yet unimagined new capabilities to PC users. I believe that broadband will create a more global sense of community and will help us all to have a better understanding of what is happening in our world through providing instantly available information and communications throughout the world.
In ten year’s time we’ll all be natural users of computers – right now there’s a long way to go before computers are truly intuitive but in the future the power of the PC will be ubiquitous, like electricity.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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