Ten IT Trends to Watch in 2011

There are a number of interesting business software trends on the horizon for 2011. Ten of these will significantly impact IT organizations seeking to align IT operations with business objectives. Awareness of such trends can help you to keep ahead of the competition

These business software trends should continue to be watched and should influence decision making in the coming year:

1. Mobile computing remains important, exciting and risky: Mobile applications present some inherent risks for two reasons. First, a poorly designed mobile application will have difficulty gaining user acceptance. I have seen too many companies make the false assumption that merely porting an existing application interface to the mobile environment will provide an acceptable result. When designing mobile apps, one must consider not only the form factor change in the user interface, but also the scope of the application itself. There is a need for more fine-grained applications that perform and function well.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the mobile market is still extremely fluid. As Apple, Google, Microsoft and traditional carriers and manufacturers continue to introduce new devices and approaches, picking a stable platform remains a difficult decision. While many have already jumped into mobile applications, they have sometimes come to regret their platform decisions. Many enterprise software decision makers opt to stay with the proven mobile platforms for business applications such as Blackberry RIM or Windows Mobile 6 and avoid experimenting with something new and unproven. Despite the fact that consumer phones are exciting, wait for validation of new platforms before basing your business IT strategy on them.

2. Mix of in-house and outsourced services shifts: Business software continues to benefit from a foundation of enterprise software services known as service-oriented architecture (SOA). In 2011, IT managers pursuing a SOA strategy should pay special attention to the mix between in-house and outsourced services. As more and more applications and infrastructure are moved to the cloud, the barriers to external Web services may well be decreasing. Nevertheless, pay special attention to the service level agreements (SLAs) offered by Web services vendors. Also note that SOA is not a technology; it's a model, a method and a strategy.

3. Enterprise software begins migrating to the cloud: The cloud computing buzz will continue into 2011, and this may well be the year when more serious platforms for cloud applications make the option of moving enterprise software to the cloud an enticing alternative. Look for cloud application platforms that allow you the option of cloud or on-premise deployment so as to preserve your options into the future. The private cloud will dominate this trend for a few years, especially with the larger companies who are risk averse and want to move into the cloud in smaller steps.

4. Organizations embrace software lifecycle management: Both developers and application managers need to pay attention to software lifecycle management for different reasons. Too many organizations have paid scant attention to the management of their enterprise software portfolios. In 2011, many organizations will be able to leverage the capabilities of integration to further extend software life and reduce the need for additional development. A formal approach to software lifecycle management may well be in order.

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