Strategy Clinic

What does the panel think will be the emerging technologies to have an impact over the coming year?

What does the panel think will be the emerging technologies to have an impact over the coming year?

Security and consolidation
David Roberts, TIF
With planned levels of IT expenditure in 2002 remaining similar to, or in many cases decreasing slightly, from 2001, early focus will be on fine-tuning and adding capability to existing infrastructures. Product evolution will probably take priority over new projects and few will show willing to be early adopters of emerging technologies.

Security and consolidation are key areas, and developments in information storage, transfer and access will be important. Close attention will be paid to the support for and take-up by suppliers of XML standards for business to business e-commerce as this will affect the choice of product for many, and the adoption of both Windows 2000 and XP will greatly affect hardware expenditure.

Always-on and biometrics
Roger Rawlinson, NCC
If organisations utilised today's technologies to their maximum potential, there would be massive improvement in the benefit gained. Few organisations manage to extract maximum benefit from improving business process and efficiency by matching business needs to robust and appropriate technology.

There is a lot to be said for using current technology innovatively, rather than expecting technology to provide the innovation in itself. For example, I have seen high quality customer relationship management systems deliver 10% of their potential as the organisations did not appreciate how to manage and exploit the technology.

Looking forward, the main impact will be the development of pushing systems outwards via higher speed access through wide area networks and wireless devices. Increased communication across the broadband backbone enables your PC to be permanently connected, forsaking the need to dial in across a slow link. This is available now, but take-up will increase, as will the availability of bandwidth.

High-speed mobile access may take a little longer than 12 months, but it will come, and will revolutionise the handheld device. The development of very high speed compound semiconductor technology is fuelling development.

Another area worth mentioning is security and authentication through electronic signatures and biometrics, and the ever increasing horse-power of computer processing, which will fuel the exploitation of faster remote access with broadband applications.

Sans and LDap
Paul Williams, Arthur Andersen
Technology projects have not stopped, but speculative IT spending has decreased significantly. The focus of many IT departments is on improving performance and efficiency.

The technologies that are likely to have the largest impact this year are storage area networks (Sans) and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDap) directories. Although these technologies have existed for some time, 2002 is the year when they will be adopted across organisations of all sizes.

The dramatically increasing volumes of data and the adoption of technologies such as data-mining have meant that many IT departments are struggling to keep pace with the significant growth in storage and availability requirements. Increasingly they are looking to implement Sans. San businesses store vast amounts of information on server hard discs, CDs and tape. Sans are essentially banks of discs, typically linked to servers through a dedicated fibre-channel network. This enables corporations to increase significantly online storage, and facilitates back-up, recovery and availability requirements. Data traffic is removed from the production network, giving improved system performance and application availability.

LDap is an open standard that enables anyone to locate anything, such as departments, phone numbers, or printers in a network. The increasing number of Web-based applications will encourage the use of LDap for single sign-on. Also accelerating the adoption of LDap is its extensive use in technologies such as Microsoft's Active Directory, and the increasing numbers of LDap-compliant applications that are being released.

Application integration
Klaus Elix,AMS, Europe
Pragmatic business practice will be encouraged; new technology buzzwords will be kept to a minimum and IT investment will focus on projects that make available technologies work within the context of a solid business case.

We expect application integration to be the most talked-about technology in 2002. It allows organisations to connect business systems using advanced links on multiple levels like IT infrastructures, data models, processes and workflow, melding legacy architecture to e-business systems.

In tough times application integration is the most cost-effective method of enhancing operational performance, reducing infrastructure costs and demonstrating strong return on investment in an environment that does not allow for risky and longer-term new investments.

Most large IT replacement projects in Europe are either not working or have been much more expensive than expected. By changing tack and moving to systems integration, rather than systems replacement, companies will save money by upgrading rather than scrapping old technology.

Application integration is fast becoming a strong discipline. A systematic approach is more critical than selecting the right supplier. Selecting and implementing a product or tool set is less than 20% of what needs to be done to create an integrated infrastructure that allows systems to work together. Building complex interfaces on multiple levels is a demanding engineering discipline which, if approached by inexperienced staff, can easily fail.

Electronic delivery channels
Andrew Davies, Cranfield School of Management

I do not see too many emerging technologies that will have an impact over the next year, but there is a set of emerged technologies - electronic delivery channels - which have not yet had the impact that was forecast for them.

The most important of these is the Internet, but others, such as voice response telephony and digital television, also have an important role to play. They created considerable excitement a couple of years ago - followed by disappointment. But we are now seeing steady progress in the extensive and time-consuming work needed to make them happen. Good examples are the success of auction house eBay and Easyjet with more than 90% of its bookings via the Internet.

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