Business Technology Trends Analysis

Business Technology Trends Analysis

Stephen J. Andriole
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-018-9.ch003
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Regardless of one’s investment perspective, it is essential to understand business technology trends. Some companies assign large teams to track business technology trends to make sure that they do not miss a potentially “disruptive” technology or a suite of technologies that might together revolutionize their industry. Venture capitalists obviously need to understand what is hot and what is not before spending their investors’ money. The vendors that create technology also need to understand the trends (that they sometimes actually create). In short, everyone needs a way to track business technology over time. In fact, business technology trends analysis is a necessary core competency for CIOs, vendors, VCs, and all technology investors. What everyone needs is a technology investment agenda that helps identify the business technologies in which they should invest more and those that should get little or none of their financial attention. The agenda ultimately must be practical: while “blue sky” research projects can be lots of fun (especially for those who conduct them), investors must find the technologies likely to yield the most return, not the coolest write-up in a technical trade publication. But this can be challenging especially when there is so much technology to track—and relatively little certainty about what business models and processes will look like in three to 5 years. Regardless of where investors sit, business models and processes are the lighthouses to cost-effective technology investments. It is imperative that we develop an understanding of where we expect business models and processes to be in 2 or 3 years so that we can begin a meaningful technology migration. Important here are answers to the big questions about connectivity, supply chains, the percentageof e-business we will be conducting, how we expect to configure and manage our infrastructure, and what enterprise applications we expect to deploy and support. We also need to make some fundamental decisions about technology platforms and, especially, how we plan to acquire technology products and services—that is, whether we expect to acquire and deploy with internal technology professionals or whether we expect to outsource the lion’s share of our technology efforts. The articulation of “to be” business models and processes provides the necessary insight to these questions. Without that insight, we will likely just extrapolate from where we are today—and quite possibly miss some major business technology shifts that might enable whole new business models and processes. Vendors need to understand where business models and processes are going as well in order to align their R&D investments with future requirements. VCs need to track all of this but must also try to create (with vendors) new trends that can be “sold” to companies searching for better, faster, and cheaper ways of doing things—without going so far as to be accused of selling “solutions-in-search-ofproblems.” In short, everyone who makes, buys, sells, and services technology needs to understand business models and processes—today, 3 years out and, if possible, 5 to 7 years out. This chapter introduces the idea of technology trends analysis as an important component of due diligence. It is essential for all investors to remain aware of technology’s trajectories—and assess their investment opportunities (and risks) accordingly.
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What are the steps? Vertical industry companies and their CIOs, vendors, and VCs all need to understand the following in order to prioritize their technology investments:

  • General business trends

  • Current → Future business models and processes by vertical industry

  • Advanced technology trends

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