Jan5

Strategically speaking, could these predictions affect your SMB in 2012?

Posted by Clint Reeves

While Nostradamus may have cornered the market for apocalyptic predictions, in the IT world many turn to Gartner Inc., for insights into what may be in store for business owners, consumers and SMBs over the next 12 months.

They released their top 10 strategic technologies for 2012 which you may find useful in analyzing your internal business processes and website integration.

While each prediction should be viewed with caution- how often are experts wrong?- they can serve our purposes if we associate real world examples with their broad findings.

Let’s focus on their top five which we think will really affect SMBs on our cheap hosting platforms.

Media Tablets and Beyond

Prediction

Perhaps not surprising that media tablets including iPad, Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy feature first on their list. But the key takeaway is how to manage your employees, customers or contracted workers who wish to use these devices to interact with your websites, small intranets or website portals. This is vital whether your are? b-2-c or b-2-b entity.

Example: For instance, when you decide to a deploy a new content management system or collaboration portal, you perhaps should put tablet compatibility at the top of the list. Platforms such as WordPress, Yammer and LinkedIn, all offer high-grade tablet applications.? You can even find FTP applications like FTP on the Go in the Apple ITunes directory.

For those of you who wish to push the envelope and turn your iPad into a web server, take a look at ServerMan HD. But, don?t get any ideas about leaving Midphase cheap hosting plans just yet, since we doubt this could be used for anything but very basic web serving!? :)

Take a look at every app you currently use and make sure they are tablet-ready. If not, perhaps it’s time for change.

Mobile-Centric Applications and Interfaces

Prediction

We guess the only surprise here, is that it did not top, the list right? Google Schmidt, the former CEO of Google once stated that any business contemplating building a new website, should build one for mobile platforms FIRST. This is quite a statement with a number of far reaching implications.

Gartner offered a more specific statement on what will take place in 2012.

The user interface (IU) paradigm in place for more than 20 years is changing. UIs with windows, icons, menus, and pointers will be replaced by mobile-centric interfaces emphasizing touch, gesture, search, voice and video. Applications themselves are likely to shift to more focused and simple apps that can be assembled into more complex solutions. These changes will drive the need for new user interface design skills.

Example: It’s obvious to all of us that you will consider building a mobile version of your site, if you have not already done so. But, the real insight is which tools can help automate some of this process to save your time. Two good examples include Mobify and Wirenode. Both have free versions to get you up and running. Also check out WPTouch, which is perfect for re-purposing existing WordPress sites towards mobile phones.

Remember, by 2013 most web access will take place from a phone and tablet, so starting thinking about this now. Also brush up on HTML5, which looks set to take a web browser closer in nature to an offline operating system.

Contextual and Social User Experience

Prediction

A bit of a mouthful but essentially predicting an avalanche of web applications which use computer, tablet and phone location to drive business offers and enhance interaction with company products anddeals?.

Examples: One famous example of this includes American Express hooking up with Foursquare, offeringchecked-in? users up to $5 in savings on their Amex account.?No cutting out coupons or showing your phone to the cashier,? said Foursquare.? The partnership went so well that they are now rolling out? a national plan at selected vendor outlets.

Internet of Things

Prediction

If tablets and Smartphones represent the most visible extension of the Internet, then sensors represent the most unique opportunities for future business products. In each phase of the ongoing IT revolution we have been spreading out information and applications to a larger collection of devices that have been getting smaller in size. And, perhaps nothing is smaller or more specialized than a microchip sensor, whose sole purpose is to transmit information back to cloud servers for data crunching.

Examples: Check out Streetline that alerts you to a free parking spot. This is a great example of how sensors can be used to create new products.? And, all accessible from your iPad.? In the area of image recognition check out Google Goggles, which allows you to search for products based on a image you took with your phone.? Don?t worry, Google appears to be staying way from face recognition for the time being, if you are concerned about individual, customer or employee privacy.? Mobile payments are another exploding arena in which to consider new applications for your business.? Google recently made a splash with its new Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

?NFC allows users to make payments by waving their mobile phone in front of a compatible reader,? said Gartner.

?Once NFC is embedded in a critical mass of phones for payment, industries such as public transportation, airlines, retail and healthcare can explore other areas in which NFC technology can improve efficiency and customer service.?

Conclusion

Start focusing your business website and product offerings towards smaller devices such as tablets, Smartphones and Sensors.? Get creative in thinking up ways to re-invent your product offering as a location-based app. Consider new ways to allow your customers to pay online, especially with a Smartphone.? At the very least make sure our company site (and your client’s) have a mobile-friendly version.? You have until 2013 before critical mass is reached. This may seem like a lifetime, but it’s not very far away.

Click here to read the next five strategic predictions from Gartner’s top 10 for 2012.

These include:

  • App Stores and Marketplaces
  • Next-Generation Analytics
  • Big Data
  • In-Memory Computing
  • Extreme Low-Energy Servers
  • Cloud Computing

If any of you have recently built mobile applications on the Midphase hosting platform, please tell us more about it.? We would love to highlight this on our blog!

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