Technology will continue to wield significant impact on business and the way that customers interact with businesses in 2012. Significant impacts will include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business (think security, backup etc.), the need for a major dollar investment (think keeping that website current and up to snuff), or the risk of being late to adopt (need a blog? email marketing? Facebook fan page?).

Technology Trends for 2012

Advanced Analytics. Optimization is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and policies give way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. We're looking into the future, predicting what can or will happen and planning to be prepared.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise’s green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. You'll want to consider tools that your business can use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities. Think about using a solar powered hosting service, for example.

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information. Businesses must focus both on use of social software and social media in the integration with externally facing business-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

Security – Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before. Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity – often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, businesses can better understand how to use them to defend the business.

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people carried handsets capable of mobile websites, providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.