Thinking about 2007? More likely you are in the budgeting, fidgeting and fighting for investment dollars for next year's budget rather than just thinking about where you will be allocating technology resources next year. But don't worry, I've done some thinking for you. Here are five things to think about as you prepare your company's technology roadmap for 2007.
One. Rethink your open source and Microsoft strategy. Maybe there is a way to make the two platforms live in harmony rather than constantly warring. Even Microsoft has recently offered an olive branch to the Linux community. As eWeek editor John Pallatto noted in his story on the recent agreement between Microsoft and Novell, "The two companies have entered into a broad collaboration agreement aimed at providing greater interoperability between Windows and Linux while eliminating concerns about potential patent violations." Is the olive branch extended by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer really a club in disguise? Is the agreement simply a recognition by Microsoft that open source and Linux is here to stay as part of the corporate computing landscape? Probably there is some truth in both of these questions. Bottom line: send your company's development team the message that you want them to come up with a way for multiple platforms to coexist.
Two. Think mobile. The mobile devices coming into the marketplace are robust, inexpensive and very cool in capabilities and design. The era of one device which can make calls, access the web and communicate via email, instant messaging and text messages is upon us. Rethink your enterprise applications for a mobile environment where sales executives can access inventory in real time and repair personnel can troubleshoot and request parts while on the road. The big carriers are anxious (of course they want you as a paying customer) to tie their telecom infrastructure into your IT infrastructure. Now is the time to catalog your enterprise applications and the roles of your employees to see who would benefit the most from no longer being tied to desktop or laptop applications.
Three. Think simple. One of the main allures of software as a service and hosted applications is the simplicity of subscribing and quickly distributing the applications throughout the corporation. Hosted applications and applications built on top of easily accessible products such as Google maps and search can provide that quick win which can get any budget year off to a good start. Thinking simple also means finally culling down all those existing applications that are hanging around the company. Thinking simple also means finally using virtualization to gain control of your server room, operating systems and storage requirements.
Four. Think people. Remember when employees were rewarded for work well done and trained for a jobs that might not open up for a year or two? Well, its time to explain to management that if you don't start rebuilding your IT staff now, the company is going to be stuck in a few years as old hands retire and new application platforms come into being that will require new skills. Technology employees are not expendable and cannot easily be replaced through offshoring, outsourcing or outright firing. Whether your management wants to believe it or not, technology capabilities are increasingly defining what companies are, how they will grow and the markets they will serve. Take a look at your staff, pick the future winners and train them in the skills they will need to make your company a winner.
Five. Think like a customer. Pretend you are a customer of your company trying to buy a product, get a complain answered or make a suggestion. How easy is it for you to navigate the call center process, or find the right email address or simply speak to a human being? Find those customer obstacles and think about how you can apply technology to help the customer surmount those hurdles. Helping a customer do business with your company may be the smartest way of all to think about technology spending for 2007.