These are not the trends you are looking for

This is a favourite time of year for many industry thought leaders to start speaking to analysts and discuss what the business trends for 2013 are likely to look like, or indeed for the analyst houses to share their ‘top trends for the coming year.’

Phil Duff, CEO and Owner of SYSPRO (image: SYSPRO)

No visionary perspective required – and I feel pretty safe saying that it is almost guaranteed that topics such as: mobility, enterprise applications, and cloud computing will again be discussed ad nauseam. Sadly, many forget that trends do not become a reality overnight.

Social media, mobility, and the oft-mentioned cloud, have not taken off as expected in enterprise circles. People expect immediate results, but it does not quite work like that. Real businesses cannot react fast enough to industry expectations.

Take the cloud for example. Businesses might be adopting these solutions en masse but their customers may very well not be ready for them yet. This is not to say that in a few years’ time it will not be the status quo with everybody engaging on cloud platforms.

Similarly, one needs to look at the hype around Facebook this year (especially around its listing) and its business model or lack thereof. Just as was the case with the Dot Com Bubble in the late 90s, companies today need to realise that real business models still need to apply. They have a responsibility to their customers to create products and services that will not only meet their current needs but also anticipate what their future needs will be. This is one of the reasons why trends never take off as quickly as predicted. Being practical often falls by the wayside.

When it comes to business in the real world, it takes years for people to adopt technology on a scale that has a significant impact on operations. The important thing is for customers to realise that whilst the organisation is thinking about the latest technology innovations, and looking at how to implement them, they will not convert overnight.

Let’s look at the enterprise app store as another case in point. This was created in answer to specific problems from customers and was about establishing the customer needs first and then finding a solution (an app) that answers the need. Often it is a case of meeting customer demand for something, without the customers actually realising they required the need to be filled in the first place; and once they are ready for it, the trend not only becomes a reality but also becomes the norm.

We should also consider that a trend should not be seen as something that replaces an existing thing but rather which enhances it. A good example of this is the  favourite trend and certainly among the analyst community, mobile. The reality is that a business cannot operate on a mobile device alone; therefore mobile solutions are not about replacing existing business processes, but rather about giving companies and their customers greater choice with the solutions and services that are available.

Many consumers of today are multi-skilled and multi-talented and with such easy access to information, are also highly discerning. Companies need to be cognisant of this, and to be continuously working on solutions and processes to meet the diverse and ever evolving needs, without losing site of the benefits in what already exists, as well as the practicalities of adoption.

Phil Duff, CEO and Owner of SYSPRO