Technologies to watch in 2001
IT'S NO SECRET that the New Economy hit a few speed bumps as it rolled into the 21st century. After several years of record boom and significant advances in business and technology, it would seem that the old adage, "What goes up must come down," is right on target.
But what does this mean for business and technology leaders? Successful companies during 2001 will be those that invest in technologies that yield measurable results. Business leaders should focus on the following 10 technologies in the coming months.
1. CRM. Investors are tightly focused on revenues these days, and new metrics, such as revenue per customer, are carrying greater weight. Implementing CRM (customer relationship management) solutions will be important this year as a way to improve customer satisfaction levels and drive further revenue.
2. EKP. Enterprise knowledge portals are the second generation of portal technology, following on the heels of enterprise information portals. EKPs hold the promise of increased manageability and richer application support as other technologies, such as collaboration tools, blend with enterprise portals.
It is also likely that peer-to-peer computing will enter the EKP picture this year, either by being directly supported in portal products and services or via collaboration solutions. Leaders investing in EKPs this year will find increased employee productivity, improved customer support functionality, and tools that can be used to enhance business-to-business applications.
3. Peer-to-peer computing. Last year, peer-to-peer computing entered the scene via the likes of Napster and SETI@home, but without a compelling business application there was no "wow" factor. This year that will change. Expect peer-to-peer capabilities to enter a wide array of products and services, including collaborative tools and portal solutions. The powerful effects of user-to-user, user-to-customer, and business-to-business real-time, distributed computing will help fuel revenue and productivity.
4. Supply-chain automation. Industry research suggests that a 5 percent net gain in transaction efficiency is roughly equivalent to a 30 percent increase in revenues. Clearly, visiting or revisiting your supply-chain strategy this year is advisable.
5. Business intelligence solutions. 2001 is also a good year to rethink your business intelligence strategy because business decisions in a down cycle are more crucial than ever. Invest in tools and services that will help you better analyze corporate metrics. Getting an accurate picture of where you are and where you need to be will give you a leg up on competitors.
6. Business process integration. Last year EAI (enterprise application integration) solution providers began integrating at the business-process layer. Expect the management of integration to continue to be pushed toward the business-process level this year, and look to reduce costs and increase efficiency by doing so.
7. Content management. Invest in content-management tools and services that emphasize workflow automation. These will not only help you manage your online assets but also provide efficiency gains and improved communication.
9. Bandwidth increases. The cost of bandwidth will come down in the coming months as speeds increase and implementation of optical networking takes hold. Whether you need to replace expensive circuits to reduce costs or implement broadband to help increase employee productivity, examine your bandwidth strategy this year to gain the upper hand.
10. Linux and open-source software. This year will also bring continued enhancements to Linux and other open-source software that will benefit enterprises. Extending existing hardware investments and reducing software-licensing costs by leveraging these technologies make them a potent draw for companies looking to get ahead.
The year ahead will be a challenging one for business leaders, regardless of market sector. Staying focused on driving revenue while increasing efficiency and reducing costs will be the hallmarks of success in 2001.