I thought you might be interested in my predictions about what lies in store for businesses over the next 12 months:

  1.  Cloud adoption will continue to reign

Despite the impact of cloud updates across emerging markets like the Middle East and Africa, and recent research revealing that 81 per cent of organisations are using cloud technologies to some degree, for many industry pundits the uptake of cloud technology so far has not met expectations. Along with data security fears that are still keeping businesses up at night, this is due in part to the continued economic hardship that businesses across the globe faced in 2012.

The need for a continued focus on hybrid technology in 2013 will be as relevant as it has ever been, if not more so. It’s far from an old story across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as increased uptake of cloud technology will further push corporate and consumer data outside the enterprise datacentre, and even beyond borders. As data moves across applications, inside and outside corporate firewalls, within social networks and across the internet, businesses will need to ensure they have the right tools to govern and protect that data, in a hybrid world.

  1.  Internet of Things and machine generated data is set to hit the big time

Advances in mobile technology will shape 2013. Gartner has already predicted that this year mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide, but what will the knock on effect be for businesses?

With more people using internet-enabled devices and more sophisticated technology being embedded into the mobile, such as NFC (Near Field Communication), we will undoubtedly see a dramatic expansion in mobile app use. With this, more information than ever before will be held across more devices and applications. This will only be exacerbated as the Internet of Things takes hold, with everything from light bulbs to refrigerators being built with the capacity to connect to the internet and generate, share and store masses of data, without the adequate means to handle it.

The quantity of devices and machine generated data will see unprecedented growth in the coming years. Organisations will need more sophisticated tools to automate the integration and management of diverse data records.

Standards defining machine data records and business-to-business communication are constantly changing and expanding. To accommodate such a fast moving landscape, organisations will need a dynamic infrastructure that can benefit from off-the-shelf library definitions. The pace of change means it is neither feasible nor cost effective, to develop and maintain such an infrastructure with in-house developers.

As a result, bullet-proof data management and protection techniques will need to be at the heart of enterprises in 2013 and beyond.

  1.  Social endeavours will become more selective

Organisations have hit the ground running when it comes to using social data for brand management and intelligent marketing, but the race is far from over. In 2013, we’re going to see some level of social fatigue from the businesses that have thrown themselves into the social world without a clear strategy or purpose. Those organisations taking a step back will need to reassess what they actually want to get out of social media, and how they want to engage with customers. It’s about being smart and selective.

However, there are also those that have got the balance right and that are already revelling in the swathe of interactional, unstructured data and the resulting customer intelligence it provides. In the year to come we’re going to see an increasingly intelligent approach to customer engagement, product development, and the extension of loyalty schemes. Organisations will need to better integrate and manage all the data available in order to market to customers in real-time, wherever they are. This includes using social media to connect to customers in a more meaningful way, according to what they want and need.

  1.  The beginning of the end for hand coding

2013 will be the tipping point for hand coding, as the time-to-market and on-going cost becomes unsustainable. Organisations are increasingly facing the challenge of maintaining thousands of lines of code, often overseen by one person.

Moreover, the level of complexity and pace of change in the computing world is such that we are at a point where hand coding just can’t keep up – it takes longer to hand code than it does to use good quality technology to maintain existing code. With this in mind, we’re going to see more organisations take advantage of off-the-shelf technology in 2013 to stay ahead of the pack.

  1.  Big data analytics will become mainstream

The world of big data analytics will become a reality in 2013. We’ve watched data scientists come onto the scene, racing beyond conventional business intelligence practices to analyse the huge volumes of transactional and interactional data available to them in order to make better business decisions.

Businesses are well on the way to finding and using the likes of Hadoop architectures for high computing processing, but the challenge for organisations in 2013 will be how they move, integrate and reference this big data across the business as the IT platform continues to shift. Organisations are currently struggling to build these architectures and to correlate transactional and interactional data effectively in order to perform proper social analysis.

We will see a greater shift towards a converged platform, where the transaction based and interactional worlds combine. Not only does this increase the complexity of data processing, but it runs the risk of creating additional data silos, which isn’t good for anyone. With this in mind we’re also going to see demand for universal connectivity reach an all-time high in 2013, likely to continue in the years to come.

In conclusion

To support the business demands for increased customer services, intelligence and governance, the smart enterprise will become a hybrid of traditional on-premise, relational and semi-structured information seamlessly integrated and synchronised with cloud based services, while taking feeds from real-time data sources such as social media and machine generated data.

The relentless pace of change along with the explosion in data volumes and data types, means businesses will have to constantly strive to work smarter, not harder in the years to come. Off the shelf libraries and dynamic tools are the only way to release time and money to invest in business driven innovation in 2013 and beyond.