IT in 2011: costs, consumerisation and the cloud

In the latest installment of Stephen Pritchard's Inside the Enterprise column, he looks at the spread of tablets, the cloud and other consumer technologies within the enterprise.

The local branch of John Lewis has set up its Christmas displays, so it's clearly not too early to indulge in some end of year predictions.

The economic outlook will affect IT, of course, and it is highly likely that companies will continue to look at how they can reduce their IT costs. A more interesting exercise is to look beyond what will happen in 2011 and focus instead on some of the broader trends in techology.

At last week's Gartner Symposium in the US, almost everyone was using a mobile device. A completely unscientific survey, carried out by scanning the front rows of seats at each session, suggested that the audience of mid- and senior level IT managers and CIOs had overwhelmingly bought iPads (another interesting trend was the ThinkPad as iPad rest, for attendees lucky enough to have both).

The fact that vendor sessions focusing on the cloud were either full or standing room only was evidence that that technology, too, is taking off (vendor sessions are not typically that packed at Gartner). The IT professionals were there to expand their knowledge of the subject and some I spoke to had not attended sessions on anything else.

Members of the military have an immediate interest in distributed computing that allows transfer of information between lightweight, connected devices. Financial services firms, for their part, are looking at their IT overheads as well as the cost of replacing "legacy" systems in the next few years. To borrow a slogan from one of our own banks, they are asking if there is a better way.

According to Gartner analysts, the factor that is bringing together these elements is a need to control, if not reduce, costs while simultaneously creating a more flexible business.

If the notion of running complex business processes, hosted in the cloud, on a consumer-grade device seems far fetched then it is worth taking a look around your business to see what people are already doing with technology.

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