In part I, we lamented the relative lack of new innovation in the space for the last few years, as most of the big announcements, and innovations, have centered around technologies that were in (initial) development of the first half of the noughts, and usability and applicability (to specific verticals) in particular. (Not to say there hasn’t been any innovation, but there’s a reason vendor coverage has been down the last couple of years. In addition to the fact that there’s been less to cover as the major best-of-breed players get gobbled up the IT gorillas who haven’t caught onto the value of social media and blogs in this space, there just hasn’t been as much to cover.)
Then we noted that we don’t see much new in the way of trends coming this year, and that SI isn’t alone! Reviewing ChainLink Research’s recently published Big Trends for Business 2013, it almost looks like the Mayans were right, the world came to a stop, and then immediately reversed direction as it looks like we’re in for 2012 all over again! The major global trends — slowing in the globalization of trade, china off-shoring, US Insourcing, Small Office Home Office (SOHO), and Local vs. Global don’t sound any different than what we’ve been seeing, hearing, and speaking for the last year (or two to be honest).
What’s even worse is that the business trends companies expect to the capitalize on this year are the same trends they should have been capitalizing on last year!
- Manufacturing Goes East / Service Goes West
If you still (have to) manufacture east, then you can at least focus on keeping your (value added) services (support) close to home. And to be honest, how much more does it really cost to have that call center in a small-town in Idaho or Alabama or even Springfield, Illinois or Wichita Falls, Texas where the costs of living are low and there are lots of people who can afford to take entry level positions for not much more than minimum wage? Yes, you can still get three resources for the price of one in some of the more remote locations in India, but when you factor in the long-distance costs, the travel costs for regular on-site visits and training, the ongoing training costs due to the much higher turnover (as poaching is very common and often an employee will go to lunch and not come back because the call center across the street offered him 15% more), and the lower throughput (as it’s always easier for someone from the same culture to understand an upset or confused caller who may use slang or unfamiliar words and resolve the issue sooner), services outsourcing is not as cheap as you think and might actually increase costs compared to a well run on-shore operation.
Finding ways to embed more intelligence in your older products to sell important upgrades, and charge more for what you sell. After all, with innovation down across the spectrum in many industries (relatively speaking), you have to milk what you have somehow.
More insight into operations and sales to maximize use of resources and potential sales.
- Investment in Energy Independence / Green Technology
Energy costs are going to continue to rise, and eventually will cost more than every piece of technology they power – unless we collectively do something about it. That something is moving to low-cost, renewable sources (and low-cost storage technologies that minimize our dependence on coal, oil, and gas and a third-party grid).
In addition, Retail needs to continue to pursue social media channels as sales channels; Life Science needs to continue to focus on better monitoring solutions; Food and Beverage need to focus on ingredient traceability from initial harvest to final consumption; and Packaging needs to focus on safety and security. Nothing new here either. And to top it all off, the big issues identified by ChainLink are the same issues we’ve been facing for years. But we’ll discuss those in Part III.