Spoiler Alert: 10 Business Technology Trends You'll Read About in 2014

Which business technologies will lead the way in 2014? From mobility to big data analytics, additive manufacturing, cloud and SaaS, augmented reality, and more, this article dives into the most important ones. Join the conversation by tweeting the hashtag #BizTech14.

2014 business technology predictions

It’s getting to be that time of the year again. Significant others are fighting over who’s going to shovel the snow. Artificial pumpkin flavoring is everywhere. Malls are open until midnight. And research firms, journalists, and bloggers are gearing up to share their thoughts on which emerging technologies are going to make the biggest business impact next year.

Immersed in today’s dynamic business technology environment and excited about what’s to come, we couldn’t wait. Our forward-thinking team at LNS Research decided to put together a list of the main focus areas you can expect experts to be discussing over the next few months. If you’re one to avoid spoilers, stop reading now!

1. Mobile

At this point in 2013, reports suggest that mobile devices are outpacing PCs as the primary source for computing. Traditional business functions (and innovative new ones) are increasingly expected to be accompanied by a solution in the app store. In 2014, managing by walking around will continue to occur, only even more-so with a tablet or smartphone in hand.

Expect to see a diversity of predictions touching on further consumerization--and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)--related issues. These will include supporting cloud-based, mobile application infrastructures, cybersecurity, compatibility, software-to-app migration, proximity sensing, and organizations’ abilities to match IT support capabilities with growing user needs.

2. Big Data & Analytics

In recent years, we’ve experienced an explosion of data. Reports say that the amount is doubling every few days. And with Internet/Intranet connectivity becoming more commonplace, new trajectories can be expected. Software vendors and in-house IT departments alike are working hard to develop simpler, faster solutions for harnessing this growing giant.

The challenge is certainly in a wrestling match with the opportunity right now and in 2014 we can expect that to shift into manufacturers' and other businesses' favor. Expect predictions around new techniques for uncovering consumer insights and manufacturing asset and production improvements, as well as a rise in cloud-based solutions for big data and analytics.

3. Cybersecurity

2013 was a tough year for cybersecurity. The NSA proved that information is not as secure from third-parties as many businesses assumed it was. And from corporate Twitter account breaches to confidential information getting into the wrong hands, we saw that hackers continue to be a very real threat.

As cloud, mobility, and connected devices make more headway in the business realm, expect to see predictions around the tradeoffs between accessibility, cost, and risk, as well as best practices for ongoing information security management and the need for ‘secure-by-design’ software and systems.

4. Cloud-Computing & SaaS

As servers continue to become virtual and move off premise, the contrasting total cost of ownership and maintenance requirements make the cloud a viable option for many businesses. It’s transformed the way companies and individuals communicate and collaborate. And distributed facilities, suppliers, and partners that were once disconnected can now easily sync in at the click of a button.

Virtualization is the first step to cloud-computing, and that’s been achieved in most industries. But keep an eye out for predictions about legacy-minded industries like manufacturing to catch up. In addition to other cybersecurity-related predictions, you may also see ones surrounding the continued rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) business models for manufacturing applications.

5. Social Business

The intuitiveness and prevalence of social media platforms have already improved the way businesses share information and collaborate internally, as well as the way customer interactions and data are treated. And in 2013, we’ve seen businesses that capitalize on social integration differentiate from close-but-laggard competitors. 

In 2014 the social business will have a big year. Expect to hear about investments made around building better tools to serve customers at a faster rate and predicting market trends in the mounting sea of big social data. And look out for solutions that enable collaboration to increasingly mirror today’s widely adopted social media platforms, catalyzing a deeper presence of personal social media tools into everyday business activities.

6. Connected Devices

You can’t look through Twitter or LinkedIn’s top stories without seeing something about the Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) these days. Connected devices are rapidly making their way into businesses (and homes), and everyone’s excited about it. The links between people, machines, and the environment are only becoming stronger, and the business world is poised to have even more data than it knows what to do with.

As everything and everyone becomes more connected, look out for predictions focusing on some of the implications with the IoE, specifically around managing workflows and contextualizing information. There will be foresights about the challenges with network bandwidth, security, and an overload of data, as well as discussions regarding the need for updating and even creating new standards.

7. Additive Manufacturing

3D printing is another buzzword that’s dramatically grown in popularity in 2013. Businesses (as well as some consumers) are identifying new ways to capitalize on its potential, and that trend seems to be only picking up speed. From simple tasks such as building tools on-site to more complex ones like rapidly developing prototypes, 3D printing is emerging as a driver for cost savings and efficiency across many industries.

For 2014, expect to see predictions about 3D printing becoming not just a more affordable business technology, but requisite for sustaining competitiveness in some industries. Printing has matured beyond prototyping into the actual production of high-tolerance mechanical parts. Advancements to the technology will continue to speed up new product introduction times, as the ability to leverage CAD/3D design software is enabling high levels of communication and collaboration between design and manufacturing.

8. Augmented Reality

The definitive lines between real and virtual worlds have been blurring for years and, at some levels, augmented reality has already succeeded in making them one. Whether over the medium of a smart device or emerging technology like Google Glass, augmented reality can simulate computer generated manipulations and supplementations to one’s surroundings in real-time.

Expect 2014 predictions to focus on the intelligence behind augmented reality and its transformation into a powerful business tool. With the relationship between mobile devices and augmented reality tightening, you can expect to see more and more solutions being rolled out.

9. Simulation/3D Visualization

Advancements to simulation and 3dV software have made it possible to prototype and test complex parts, components, or products in an entirely virtual environment. As a result, less resources are required to bring new and even better products to market. This, coupled with the rising use of simulated work instructions, is transforming manufacturing and engineering environments.

For 2014, expect predictions around simulation and 3dV software being a game changer for companies developing and producing highly complex products. With this technology, the traditional silos between engineering and manufacturing will continue to evolve into portals for quality improvements.

10. Software Platforms & Modular Apps

Despite the benefits of an integrated, harmonized enterprise IT architecture, many companies are still working with disconnected systems and data sources. Consequently, achieving the levels of communication and collaboration needed to compete today can be a resource-intensive undertaking.

Expect predictions around next-generation enterprise software platforms stacked with more functionality that make integration with other enterprise systems and data sources less costly. You can also expect to see predictions regarding more rollouts of modular apps instead of large monolithic systems and inter-dependent applications.

Tweet These Predictions [#BizTech14]

1. Mobile: Managing by walking around will continue to occur only more-so with a smartphone in hand Tweet this!
2. Big Data Analytics: Vendors working hard to develop better solutions to harness the growing #bigdata giant Tweet this!
3. Cybersecurity: With the explosion of connectivity, cybersecurity is set to be front and center in 2014 Tweet this!
4. Cloud/SaaS: Most industries have moved to the cloud, but expect legacy-minded ones like manufacturing to catch up Tweet this!
5. Social Business: Look out for solutions that increasingly mirror today’s widely adopted social platforms Tweet this!
6. Connected Devices: Overwhelmed with data? 2014 will focus on managing workflows and contextualizing it Tweet this!
7. Additive Manufacturing: 3D printing is poised to become requisite for sustaining competitiveness in some industries Tweet this!
8. Augmented Reality: Focus will be on the intelligence behind augmented reality and transforming it into a strong business tool Tweet this!
9. Simulation/3D Visualization: Simulation and 3D Visualization software could be a game-changer for building complex products Tweet this!
10. Software Platforms/Modular Apps: Modular apps will continue to take the place of monolithic, expensive systems Tweet this!

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All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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