Business Predictions for What’s in Store for 2012
2011 was quite a year. The continued economic downturn, environmental disasters and massive layoffs leading to a rise in entrepreneurship all had major impacts on the IT landscape for enterprises and SMB’s alike. So what does 2012 hold in store? Here are some trends I think we’ll be seeing next year and beyond:
- The number of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees (we refer to these businesses favorably as “micro” businesses) will explode. As the economic crisis continues and the term of unemployment benefits begins to expire, more and more individuals will start new entrepreneurial endeavors as a means of supporting themselves. Also, the number of small professional operations (lawyers, medical professionals, educators, financial experts, etc.) who decide to “hang their own shingle” and set up a 1-person shop will increase as layoffs at large, multi-national enterprises continues. The number of lawyers and financial experts we know that have left large firms and institutions (both voluntarily and involuntarily) in order to work for themselves on their own schedule and terms speaks volumes to this trend.
- Virtualization and outsourcing of back office IT to proven service providers will be viewed as a ‘best practices’ methodology amongst information technology professionals. The past practices of managing a server infrastructure by keeping it in-house (which also used to be associated with job security) is now a weakness and liability. With a business’ limited financial and technical resources, where is the value in keeping infrastructure in house when it can be outsourced to the cloud where the infrastructure is serviced and maintained by technology experts with deep, dedicated IT resources that are easily cost justified in a multi-tenant infrastructure? Not embracing this change in best practices will threaten the job security of industry IT professionals trying to hold onto their (depreciating) infrastructure. There was an old saying in IT that “no one was ever fired for buying Cisco” – times have radically changed!!!
- Business continuity and disaster recovery planning will become paramount for businesses of all sizes, not just the dominion of the large enterprise. Business continuity planning used to be the backbone of large multi-national management consultants. The environmental disasters of 2011 have highlighted that business continuity planning is mandatory for survival in the information economy. As more and more of a business’ intellectual property, records and information are stored electronically, a hurricane, flood, fire or earthquake can quickly destroy a business’ core assets and make recovery a business-threatening proposition. Fortunately, cloud-based technologies offer a simple, inexpensive solution utilizing mobility and the Internet to not only restore a business’ information assets, but even to provide for the continued utilization of mission critical resources in real time during and after a natural disaster or other disruption.
- Turnkey business services that leverage a cloud-based approach to the outsourcing of back office IT functionalities like communications and information technology flourish in good and bad economic times and will continue to thrive in 2012.
- Note: The global financial crisis has not slowed the growth of 8x8’s cloud-based business communications and data services. In the past 3 years, we have experience two major financial and credit dislocations in the North American markets. Pinpointing the timing of these crisis points on the 8x8 customer graph below is impossible to do:
- Large enterprises and institutions will begin to embrace cloud-based IT and back office infrastructure on a large scale. We used to engage new enterprise customers with 8x8’s cloud-based services on a trial basis, followed by a phased rollout across the organization one department or office at a time. More and more of our new enterprise prospects are requesting a large, in-depth deployment at the time of launch of our services. This reflects the growing acceptance of cloud-based back office solutions amongst decision makers at these large institutions. We have seen this same theme increase with 8x8’s federal and municipal customers, as well. (See 8x8 Select Customer overview below)