So depending who you read 2014 is going to be the year of Big Data, mobile (Eric Schmidt – playing it pretty safe there), self driving cars, health apps and wearable computers. It will also be the year in which the UK is swamped by a tidal wave of Romanians and Bulgarians (at least according to the Daily Mail), the Scots get to decide between David Cameron or Alex Salmond (lucky them) and as a nation we will become irrationally convinced in our football team’s ability to win the football World Cup.
Predicting what is going to happen in the ever changing world of technology and business is hard enough so trying to see where we are heading over 12 months is nigh on impossible. I therefore am going to take the coward’s route out and not even try. What I will do however is give you a few thoughts on some things I think I can pretty categorically say are not going to happen:
1. Management boards will understand the real value of technology and hand over £millions to CIOs to use as they see fit (no CEO sign off required)
Despite the fact that technology has become such a critical enabler (at both a personal and professional level) the value of the CIO has, if anything, fallen over the last few years. This seems strange. If technology has become so much more important then why has there not been a similar increase in the standing of the CIO? Ironically this is partly because technology has become so much more important that we have all become much more tech savvy. Now everyone thinks they can ‘do tech’ and, as it becomes increasingly commoditised, there is more and more encroachment on the CIO’s territory. This is not going to change this year – in fact it will probably get worse. If the CIO wants to move up the food chain then it has to be less about the tech and much more about what it enables which, at the most valuable end, is access to information and insights.
2. Employees will once more be grateful for the tech they get given and never again mention their iPad and whinge about ‘compatibility’
As anyone that has worked inside the technology department of a large corporate will tell you the proliferation of devices that now exists within the business is one of their biggest headaches. Long gone are the days when you could hand out a laptop and Blackberry and be done. A survey completed back in 2012 suggested that even back then more than 50% of the workforce were using their own tech in the workplace.
Unfortunately this trend shows no sign of reversing so not only do you have to consider how to make apps accessible to multiple platforms but you also have to ensure that the business is able to capture and make use of any data generated through those devices. And for those of you that think tablets make life complicated, just wait until wearable tech really takes off.
3. Consumers will become much less demanding full stop.
One of the major transformations that has happened in the last five years is that the consumer has really taken control when it comes to their interactions with organisations of all shapes and sizes. Trying to understand and predict customer behaviour has become almost all consuming for brands and it’s this that is increasingly driving decisions on technology spend.
For the brand again it comes back to insight, but it’s also about having the kind of technology architecture sitting behind the business that enables the flexibility required to stay ahead of customer trends. It also means having the openness (and also the bravery) to be bolder about the partnerships you make and the technology you deploy. Safe is no longer safe. A safe technology buying decision will in all likelihood keep you behind the curve. That’s not to say you have to take unnecessary risks but you do need to create the kind of environment in which new ideas can be tested and explored quickly and inexpensively.
4. It will become much easier to find really good people, and keep them
If anything the war for talent is likely to get worse this year. As the UK economy starts to pick up again and budgets restraints loosen competition will inevitably increase. Understanding what attracts the best people (and it isn’t always a bigger pay cheque) is vital. Providing an environment that promotes creativity, innovation, collaboration and personal responsibility will make a big difference. But it isn’t just about the new it’s also about getting the best out of what you have. Take the time to understand a bit more about the talents you have at your disposal and make sure you are harnessing them effectively. The best ideas often come from the most unlikely places.
5. England will win the World Cup
Not going to happen so don’t even entertain the idea.