Monday, January 14, 2008

Nine Business Issues That Will Matter Most in 2008 and What it Means to the Technology Sector

The 2008 Presidential election. Energy costs expected to continue their upward climb in 2008. Customers demanding more environmentally-friendly products than ever before. Each are challenges and opportunities that will frame 2008, and are three of nine areas that will have dramatic impacts across multiple industry sectors in the coming year, according to a Deloitte report released by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.

There were nine business issues that resonated across multiple industry sectors and could have a dramatic impact this year, including:

  • Globalization
  • Convergence
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Rising Energy & Health Care Costs
  • Transparency
  • Technology Use & Integration
  • The 2008 Presidential Election
  • Talent Management

The “2008 Industry Outlook: A Look around the Corner” report features the combined insights, analyses and recommendations from Deloitte & Touche USA’s industry sector leaders and more than a dozen subject matter specialists collected during a series of in-depth, one-on-one interviews.

According to the Deloitte report, for the technology industry, companies seeking to increase revenues and market share in 2008 will need to learn how to effectively straddle the consumer and business marketplaces. Increasingly, consumer applications of technology are leading developments in the business sector – a situation that used to be reversed. Since most technology companies traditionally have been focused on either consumers or businesses, they
will have to broaden their view and identify opportunities and innovations to bridge the two. They also should be alert to the threat of unknown competitors introducing a disruptive technology in this new, convergent space.

A second issue that is expected to play out in both the business and consumer arenas in 2008 is the shifting focus of technology from enabling efficiency and automation to facilitating collaboration and augmentation. The past two decades of industry growth have been driven largely by information technology (IT) applications that automate key business processes, especially those that support large enterprises. The trend is now toward IT that helps people collaborate more effectively and achieve better results through their collective skill sets. This is being evidenced by major waves of innovation around Web 2.0 technologies, social networks, shared workspaces, customer-friendly Web interfaces, and wikis (computer software that allows users to easily create, edit, and link Web pages to create collaborative Web sites).

The biggest challenge and opportunity for technology companies is to reposition their existing technologies and develop new ones to support collaboration and augmentation needs. In the enterprise marketplace, for example, a large number of companies expend significant resources on handling exceptions to standardized, automated processes. In a largely manual, workaround manner, exception handlers struggle to find others to help solve these exceptions, which generates a huge amount of wasted effort. Collaborative technologies could help companies address exceptions more efficiently and effectively and concurrently create greater visibility regarding opportunities for business innovation given emerging unmet needs. In addition, IT could enable companies to connect with numerous, specialized business partners in much more flexible and robust ways to access a broader range of expertise and enhance the potential for learning. Some technologies already exist to address these unmet needs, but there will also be an opportunity to innovate in terms of broader IT architectures to support sustained collaboration across large numbers of independent entities.

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