2012 Technology Predictions

It's that time of year for our team of Real Story Group analysts to reveal our 2012 predictions, where we try to predict what the future holds in the technology world.

This is our sixth year in a row doing this humbling exercise. If you'd like to see how we've done previously, you can view past predictions here: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

Here's our 2012 technology predictions:

1. Big data meets web marketing
Digital marketing systems -- from analytics, to adaptive personalization, to social media monitoring platforms -- generate huge amounts of data. The ability to extract and leverage meaningful nuggets from these vast stores of information represents a persistent but increasingly important challenge for marketing specialists. 2012 will see specialist (typically SaaS...see below) vendors pull away from the pack of integrated WCM suites and other adjacent technologies that implement e-marketing functionality as a simple, add-on service.

2. Enterprise search marketplace opens up...again
The major vendors in this space are undergoing substantial transformation: FAST is getting sucked into the SharePoint vortex; Autonomy is facing an unclear future under HP; and Endeca remains fitful and distracted. Look for upstart vendors to fill the void as they did earlier this decade when the market was more open. In particular, look for specific applications based on the open source platform, Lucene.

3. Social services get called on the carpet in SharePoint
SharePoint has seen stratospheric, often viral growth in enterprises around the world. Licensees are beginning to discover, however, that its lack of contemporary social networking services and polished collaboration applications are limiting its effectiveness and driving business units to self-provision other tools. 2012 will see the rise of a variety of SharePoint-specific, supplementary offerings, from new and existing vendors alike.

4. CRM and CMS on a collision course
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Content Management Systems (CMS) have long been central pieces in the digital marketing toolkit; however the lines between these two systems will continue to blur in 2012. More and more, marketers want to set content and interaction experiences based on customer interaction, so CMS vendors continue to add CRM features, while CRM systems add more web publishing features. In the long run, we think integration is more promising than convergence; in the meantime, expect some messy collisions.

5. Death of the intranet as we know it
Intranet managers still have a key role to play in enterprise collaboration and information management, but employee expectations and the role of the intranet have changed dramatically over the past few years. Savvy companies will focus on the broader employee experience in a mobile, "digital workplace." 2012 will see a significant reallocation of resources from corporate communications to more business-oriented functionality.

6. BPM springs back to life
Process still matters, and workflow applications continue to dominate enterprise document and records management efforts. 2012 will see a renewed interest in good, old-fashioned BPM, as enterprises seek to orchestrate activities across organizational boundaries, including partner and supplier systems.

7. Rich media goes mainstream in the enterprise
Video is no longer an emerging technology for the enterprise. New social initiatives in particular will bring more media into internal systems. To be sure, a gulf remains in production quality (between professional and amateur), and employees will continue to look for increasingly sophisticated capabilities as both media producers and consumers. In 2012, enterprises will respond with specific, rich-media initiatives.

8. Big data blows into the cloud
More and more information management systems are generating or leveraging "big data." Yet, many enterprises don't have the resources, capacity, or expertise to properly store and mine this data. Fortunately, "big data" characteristics (such as unpredictable data inflow rates and the need for elastic processing capacity) make it a natural fit for the cloud. As a result, data-rich applications -- such as social media monitoring -- will increasingly go to market with SaaS-only delivery models.

9. Pervasive mobile-only apps
2011's mantra could have been "mobile first." 2012 will see "mobile first and last," as enterprises develop mobile-only interfaces to certain internal applications without focusing any effort on traditional, web-based (desktop/laptop) UIs. Many of these mobile apps will consist of specialized mashups among existing systems. A key driver here is the inexorable rise of tablets. We'll also see interesting examples where enterprises will tweak business processes to leverage tablets (e.g., in-store tablet catalogs).

10. New job titles emerge
Major technical and operational changes are driving new roles -- often informal, hybrid roles -- within the enterprise. 2012 will see the formalization of some of these roles into broadly recognized job titles. Samples include:

  • Marketing Technologist - to master the increasingly complex services around e-marketing at scale
  • Social Media Monitor - to interpret, understand, learn from, and respond to the fire hose of relevant activity on public social networks
  • Enterprise Community Facilitator - to support localized community managers and foster productive cross-silo interaction
  • Enterprise Media Producer - to produce or edit high volumes of video for internal and external consumption
  • Director or VP of Digital Assets / Digital Media Manager - formal DAM roles emerge to establish ownership -- not just of assets, but of the systems and metadata -- of DAM and MAM

11. Security fears rise: phones, tablets, portable drives, the cloud -- where is our content?
Nearly everyone is a mobile worker. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets means that employees are walking around with disk drives containing company information. A lost or stolen phone or tablet containing sensitive information will likely cause a backlash in enterprise security departments. We've already heard of some highly regulated enterprises banning enterprise access from employee phones. For many employees, 2012 will bring even more rules and regulations around how they can use their mobile devices and renewed enterprise interest in digital rights management applications.

12. Lines blur between commercial and open source technologies
In the WCM and portal marketplaces, major open source projects are "commercializing" fairly rapidly, while many (though certainly not all) commercial vendors are adopting more open development and support models. This means that in 2012, customers will see increasingly less distinction between commercial vendors and "commercial open source" suppliers. The bigger gulf -- though it remains largely one of licensing -- is emerging between commercially-oriented open source projects and community-oriented projects across the WCM and portal landscapes.

Here is RSG's Alan Pelz-Sharpe to shed some more light on our predictions:

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