In 2014 technology will become more integrated in the way we do business by enabling business processes, allowing for better decision making and higher levels of customer and employee engagement. Some key trends for this year include:
Growth in business mobility
In 2014 there will be a major shift towards mobility across all industries and business sizes. Mobile adoption has grown significantly across Africa in 2013, driven primarily by consumers. In 2014 we will see significant but focused market penetration by big mobile and device players to take defined market segments across the continent. For business, mobility is becoming an extension of their business systems as the capabilities of smart phones are increasing rapidly. Service dispatch software solutions for example provide field workers with client information on the go.
Omni-channel allows businessesto use different channels and devices in engaging consumers and employees. In retail, a customer would get the same experience engaging a retailer across a smartphone, tablet, laptop and brick and mortar. From a business perspective, retailers will use one database of products, prices etc. to engage and track customers. With omni-channels customers will experience a consistent engagement and marketing message irrespective of how they choose to engage with the business. In 2014 the focus is moving away from the type of channel to a singlebrand experience.
Convergence of personal and business technology
More businesses are allowing employees to use own devices for business purposes, typically referred to as BOYD. The convergence of personal and business technology is placing more pressure on business to keep up with latest technology trends while dealing with an ever increasingly informed, educated and also demanding workforce. Business IT will have to rapidly deal with challenges around IT governance and data security in 2014. The convergence is however good news for SMEs as this reduces the need for capital spend on technology while allowing for opportunities to use cloud and mobile business solutions via employee devices.
Improved use experiences (UX)
The convergence of personal and business technology requires business software to provide a consistent user experience for employees across their devices of choice. Mobility and cloud computing are making user interfaces easier and more intuitive. Users can now use software immediately without the need for extensive training. In 2014 we will see more influence from UX studies that look at the way users engage and apply technology in their working and homeenvironment. Improved user experiences will drive higher utilization of software, which translates into higher ROI.
More cloud computing
Cloud computing will continue to gain more momentum and adoption will increase in 2014 across business of all sizes and industries. Concerns around cloud security and data privacy are being addressed and the continuous improvement of IT infrastructure across Africa is allowing businesses to gain the benefits of the cloud. The movement to the cloud is also supported by more informed and educated users, availability of internet access and affordability of devices from smartphones to tablets.
Applications platform interfaces (APIs)
This translates to the ability of businesses to use software delivered by various software providers as a single solution. In 2014 business will be presented with more opportunities to bundle solutions across various software players to create solutions that satisfy their specific business requirements. Businesses don’t need to be locked into a single solution provider but will now benefit from the flexibility of the cloud.
Business becomes the IT decision maker
The movement towards cloud and better understanding of technologies are moving IT decision back into business. Business is seeing less value in overpriced and complex ERP systems andrechanneling funds back into core operations to generate more revenue. Executives are putting more pressure on IT management to show value and how they should be applying new technologies across their value chains. In 2014 we will see a continuation of this trend with IT performing a crucial role in influencingbusiness decisions.
Consumerization of IT
Consumerizationof IT means that a bigger number of IT devices and apps are being used in the workplace. In 2014 businesses willpurchase apps via app stores and deploying it immediately to their end users. This will reduce the cost and effort to enable business operations while increasing productivity. With apps available for various devices, users can now choose to use the same business app on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. BOYD will further allow users to access business systems via their preferred device.
Big and open data
The ability to get business intelligence out of big and open data is going to become more important in 2014. With the proliferation of data via the Internet open data is becoming an important source ofmarket intelligence. Businesses will be mining open data to determine trends and opportunities within their industries. Big data sets are now being mined with technology that can deal with higher volumes of data. Businesses will reach out to cloud-computing to assist with the analysis of big data.
The trends above have significant impacts on Human Resources and the way businesses engage and manage their employees. In 2014 mobility will allowbusinesses to manage their employee administration and talent via mobile devices without the need for any supporting infrastructure. This has a major impact on SMEs as they will be able to manage their operations using only a smartphone. In the HR space, omni-channels provide business with an excellent opportunity to increase employee engagement across channels and devices. Employees are now able to interact with the business across their chosen technology. Improved user experiences make talent management more effective as the enabling tools are becoming easier to use. More focus is place on actual talent acquisition than the administration and management. The convergence of personal and business technologies are also driving higher levels of employee engagement, as business apps are now part of personal devices. Employee can decide when and where to engage with their careers and own development, independent of their location of employment.
In 2014 technology will play a bigger part in business across industries irrespective of business size. Technology is becoming a business decision that enables operations to deliver against business strategies, irrespective of how mature or complex the organizations are. Technology is also leveling the playing fields by enabling SMEs to compete with larger businesses as technology is becoming affordable and less complex to use. In 2014 business has the opportunity to improve and enable their operations significantly through technology.
Written by: Phil Lotter, CEO of Piilo Software.
Piilo Software is focused on making HR easy