It's clear by the increasing use of analytics software that companies are struggling to get their hands around the huge amounts of data it takes to run a successful business. But developing social, mobile, cloud computing and other applications are also driving the need for new technical skills.
Those were some of the key trends found in IBM's 2011 Tech Trends Report released this week that surveyed 4000 IT professionals from 93 countries and 25 industries to garner their views on future IT trends.
More Big Trends: Gartner: The top 10 strategic technology trends for 2012
Increasing use of business analytics was the key trend as the study found the software is being incorporated in almost every business process within organisations. IBM said 42 per cent of respondents named it as an "in demand" area for software development and as having the highest adoption tendency (90 per cent) when compared with other technology areas. Developers who want to grow their skills should take note that 87 per cent of respondents cite open source platforms such as Apache Hadoop and Linux as playing a key role in the future of this application development," IBM said.
The survey found that half of those not currently using analytics plan to within the next 24 months, to increase automation, streamline processes and do more with less in faster time.
There are concerns though. IBM found that two-thirds of respondents reported a less than 50 per cent increase in the amount of business analytics work in their organizations over the past year, saying they are concerned about difficulties when integrating sophisticated analytics capabilities into existing technology and in educating people on how to make the most of what analytics software finds.
Integrating business analytics into an existing deployed infrastructure ranks as the most common concern when considering new services, but training, performance and cost are close behind, IBM states.
Some other interesting facts from the report:
• Developers looking to increase their mobile skills would be smart to look to Android. With its large and growing global install base, Android is ranked as being the top mobile platform over the next 24 months. This open source platform based on Java and XML offers a much shorter learning curve, and this contributes to its popularity with IT professionals. Apple's iOS remains strong in the US and other developed countries.
• Mobile computing has a high level of penetration, with three in four survey respondents currently working in mobile computing, growing to 85 per cent within the next two years. Respondents see enterprise and industry-specific applications as top areas for adoption within 24 months, with extending mobile capabilities to existing core applications close behind.
• The US and Russia are building mobile infrastructure, while India and China are building applications to take advantage of it.
• Security/privacy and the cost of developing for multiple mobile platforms are cited as the top mobile adoption concerns (53% and 52% respectively).
• The survey found building cloud applications will outpace virtualisation as the top cloud activity in the next 24 months. Companies have concerns about building and utilizing infrastructure in the cloud and IT professionals cite security, compatibility with existing applications, privacy, and performance as the top concerns when adopting cloud.
• While 40 per cent of respondents indicated that their organization is not currently engaged in cloud computing, the vast majority (75 per cent) of respondents believe that over the next two years their organizations will begin to build cloud infrastructure.
• IT professionals predict developing new applications will be the top cloud adoption activity in the next 24 months, overtaking the current top investment areas of virtualization and storage.
• As mobile usage proliferates, so should the use of cloud. The survey uncovered a strong link between the adoption of mobile and cloud. Fifty-one percent of respondents cited the adoption of cloud technologies as part of their mobile strategy. Mobile usage increases the amount of transactions, while cloud enables the flexibility and cost-effectiveness to handle demand surges.
• Organisations with customer-facing external deployments are more likely to deploy their own social platforms (41%) than use third-party systems like Facebook (20 per cent). This provides a much higher level of control and the ability to better understand their customers, while limiting exposure to other networks' ever-changing privacy policies.
• Forty-eight percent of respondents cited "adoption by employee and/or customer" as a concern when adopting a social business solution.
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