We are in an era of big change driven by an emerging new business climate and the need to be digitally strong to swim the business current. See http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2014/01/2014-go-big-or-go-home-part-i-business.html. The good news is that budgets for technology investments are going up and leveraging the cloud can free up funds to invest in more tech. The bad news is there are lots of choices and any number of competing shiny objects to reach out to grab. If you work for a "cash cow", you can try many new digital approaches, however most organizations have to prioritize. If you haven't embraced mobile, cloud and knowledge collaboration with vigor, you need to up your game before you look out too far on the horizon. While I believe the things we see at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are important overall (3D printing, drones and self driving cars), I'd like to point to three technology areas to consider in 2014 with your new found funds.
The Internet of Everything: (For Observation)
There is an explosion of sensors, devices, touches, state changes, environmental conditions to respond to for organizations. This will put a premium on extending the range of organizations to sense conditions that are worthy of taking advantage off offensively or responding to defensively. This means taking on new sources of sensors and making sense of the patterns of senor activity. It could be a simple as matching market conditions or it could be as complex as watching the response of groups of customers. Mobile and mass customization just accelerates the need for this area. This puts a premium on complex event recognition and smart sensors to help optimize organizational awareness.
Machine Assistants: (For Orientation and Decisions)
We hear plenty about big data, poly analytic efforts and process intelligence to sort out the right decisions and setting up the proper responses to these emerging patterns mentioned above. There aren't enough eyes, brains and time to collaborate to respond properly and quickly with a measured outcome simulated response. There aren't enough data scientists on the planet, so wee need to augment humans with machine learning. The learning could be deciding what analytic approaches to take or sorting out scenario response combinations. This will start out slowly, but there is more decisions and actions than can be handled by the folks we employ or use as stringers. This puts a premium analytic capabilities, big data and machine learning.
Real Time Response: (For Action)
If you sense the right patterns and make the right decisions considering all of the contexts, you have to respond within time frames that are accelerating. There is truth to the old saying "the early bird gets the worm". Organizations need to be optimizing the cycle of action to intercept and respond in the most timely manner. In addition, organizations will have to tweak their responses quickly and closer to the business. This means that infrastructure investments that speed all aspects of business are crucial. This puts a premium on in memory data, process management and business policy/rule management.
Money is flowing back into technology, so picking the right areas of investigation and investment will make a significant difference when matching against expected business outcomes. The best digital organizations will be able to aggregate and string together technologies in ways to out perform the competition and constituents expectations. Heaven help those organizations that ignore this opportunity.