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September 21, 2012

An Analyst Look at Mobility, the Cloud and Technology in the Future

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

A quick glance at the telecommunications industry and you can’t help but see extensive attention paid to mobility and the cloud. These two trends have certainly dominated the landscape and are expected to continue to drive business decisions, create new revenue opportunities and lead to the creation of new markets.

At this year’s ITEXPO West 2012 event, scheduled to take place in Austin, Texas, next month, many vendor and industry experts will be on hand to discuss the current environment, opportunities for the future and other exciting trends. To get a jump start on the discussion, TMC recently spoke with Frank Stinson (News - Alert), Partner and Sr. Analyst with IntelliCom Analytics, to get his take on the market and what to anticipate for the future. 

Image via Shutterstock

One area on the minds of every vendor in the industry is the elements that are driving business purchasing decisions. Are companies more concerned with supporting their mobile employees and embracing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, or are they considering a move to the cloud? Better yet, are they making the necessary investments to remain competitive in their respective fields? Stinson has an interesting take on spending in the past year, stressing that a lack of purchasing decisions was most noteworthy.

This should be an area for concern for those in the Unified Communications (News - Alert) space. This is one segment Stinson tracks extensively and so far this year, purchasing has been down, despite the strong recovery from the recession. While a number of organizations and large enterprises acknowledge the benefits UC brings to the bottom line, many are delaying major investments until they are more confident in the sustainability of the economy, the situation in Europe improves and Washington final addresses the looming fiscal black hole.

There are a few strategic moves companies can do to ensure they have the necessary technology to embrace opportunities in the future. It’s been proven time and again that any technology investment and implementation is better received and used by employees when they are invested in the decision. At the same time, technology solutions chosen need to do more than simply enhance features and functionality – real, bottom line benefits have to be measurable.

As new technologies continue to emerge in the market and tout their endless benefits to the enterprise, are they truly new enough to improve efficiency, speed time to market and enhance customer interactions? At the same time, are these technologies unique enough that they avoid patent infringement? Recent turmoil between Apple and Samsung have brought the patent system closer to the public, especially as these companies fight over technology the typical user can understand.

But does Apple’s win mean greater access to proprietary technology or will it limit our options? According to Stinson, “It was a big win for Apple in terms of maintaining its differentiation in the market and aura held by its followers, but the decision probably will ultimately mean less choice and higher cost for the broader technology consumer.”

These higher costs will also be a concern for the small business, as well as the enterprise, as employees are increasingly mobile and leveraging video in their daily activities. Video will require optimized devices and access to robust networks. At the same time, telepresence continues to drive value with reduced travel expenses and increased collaboration. While Stinson is still unsure as to how video will expand into the mainstream, marketing firms and advertisers are already heavily promoting its use, especially on mobile devices.

Consider the viewing habits of those tuned into the Olympic Games in London. While NBC failed to show footage in real-time, fans throughout the world were streaming events as they were happening, and following social media for the latest scores. Not a big fan of the Games, Stinson really only caught the unusual occurrences posted on YouTube (News - Alert). Is he just one of many who would rather do anything other than watch the games? Given the massive streaming taking place during key events, it may just be audiences are shifting, leveraging new technologies for access to traditional events.

This is likely to be the case in the upcoming presidential election. In the 2008 race, we saw how much social media and real-time video could be used to reach unique audiences. For this race, look to the candidates to use newer technologies to customize their messages to specific audiences for solidify support. In fact, according to Stinson, “It’s not a huge stretch to think that the positions promoted by these campaigns-within-campaigns won’t be entirely consistent with each other.”

As technology innovations continue to tease our inner techie to experience new things, there are always ideas that we would like to see come to fruition. For Stinson, he would be excited to have access to warp drive, although doubts it’s actually possible in the near future. And, he’s also not sure he would use his smartphone to pay for retail purchases, even if it becomes available in the short term. The man hoping for warp drive isn’t quite convinced that it will really save much time compared with swiping a card at the self-service kiosk – he may have a point. At the ITEXPO event, Stinson will be moderating a couple of sessions on cloud migration and the implementation of an all cloud or hybrid environment. He’s most looking forward to the keynote sessions and the broader conference program that the move to Austin seemed to have enabled.

In summary, Stinson was asked for his bold or surprising prediction about the future of tech, to which he replied, “Much of the focus of this and other tech conferences is rightly aimed at the positives that new technology is delivering in terms of enhancing the efficiency of and value provided by businesses, making people more productive and connected wherever they are located, and expanding access to information and overall quality of life. But I think that some of the unintended consequences of technology will increasingly manifest themselves in profoundly negative ways.”

“Science fiction’s take on this dynamic may have seemed comical not so long ago in examples like 1984’s Big Brother, the Terminator’s Skynet, and Star Trek’s Borg, but maybe slightly less so today. Some of that is already apparent in internal developments like the erosion of privacy caused through the public’s tolerance of post-9/11 surveillance measures and the shifting values of the Facebook (News - Alert) generation. But the cloud, social media, and smart devices that serve us in any number of positive ways can also be a boon to terrorists and rogue nations, as the current unrest in the Middle East demonstrates.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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