On one hand, enterprise IT has a well-deserved reputation for providing innovative new products and technologies at a fairly rapid rate. On the other hand, however, there is a significant gap between when technologies are first introduced and when they get widely deployed by IT organizations.
That's more than understandable given limited IT budgets and the amount of time it takes most IT organizations to come up to speed on a new technology. In fact, IT vendors routinely now complain about a common problem that is of their own making: 75 percent or more of the IT budgets in most companies today is used to pay for keeping existing applications and systems running.
This means that in many ways IT organizations are selling against themselves. IT vendors need to convince customers that their new product reduces IT costs enough to help pay for its acquisition, especially if the customer already has something similar in place. In addition, the new product generally now has to make a material impact on the delivery of that promise within the first six months of deployment.
The one thing that will be substantially different in 2012 versus 2011 is that more IT organizations are going to be receptive to having this conversation. The last year is being defined as a period when IT organizations moved to aggressively cut costs. Now the tenor of the conversation is moving more in the direction of agility. IT leaders are looking for products and technologies that will allow their organization to more rapidly respond to changing business conditions. While that conversation started in 2011, it looks like 2012 will be the year when more technologies are actually implemented to achieve that specific goal.
Part of the reason for this is not just pressure being applied by senior business leaders, but also the simple fact that many companies have more dollars available for IT expenditures as the economy improves at a slow but steady pace. Every IT organization knows they have to spend a little up front to save a lot. But if they can tie that goal to a strategic conversation about making the IT organization more responsive to the business, chances are much higher that whatever expenditure they are proposing is going to get approved.
What that ultimately means is that the bar for an IT project in 2012 is probably going to be set a lot higher than previous years. The good news is that there are at least 12 emerging technologies that are ready to go mainstream in 2012 that should help IT organizations either meet or exceed that goal.