Today, most major corporations realize that information technology has become core to their business. Four key enabling technologies are helping to create innovative business strategies, refine product roadmaps, speed time to market and reduce operating infrastructure costs. The following technologies have made HBS Consulting’s “Top Technologies List for 2007”:
1) Data Mining — Many corporations have become very adept at gathering vast quantities of data from real world customer interactions and have built a significant corporate asset. This asset holds the key to their future as intense competition increasingly mandates data-driven decision making. Mining this asset can provide exceptional insight into everything from customer acquisition and retention to the development of new product lines and features. One example of data mining technology at work is the process of determining the optimal bundle of product and service features to offer the marketplace. Through the use of advanced clustering and association algorithms, organizations can gain uncommon insight into what customers really want. Data mining offers product managers and business strategists a new competitive advantage from the ability to understand complex patterns in customer interactions and gain insight into customer psychology.
2) Software as a Service – Many companies are looking to gain significant benefits from rapidly implementing on-demand application technology. The ability to buy access to externally hosted software is revolutionizing both large and small businesses. The most popular and publicized hosted applications have been in CRM and ERP-type software, however many additional areas have emerged such as customer support, project management, email marketing and other enterprise-type applications. These applications can provide significant cost advantages, expedite the implementation of best practices and can ultimately save companies time and money by reducing implementation risk.
3) Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) – Several of our large clients are currently developing and piloting new applications based on Service Oriented Architecture principles. Once developed, these service architectures provide standardized interfaces that can be called to execute a wide variety of useful tasks. The main benefit of building a Service Oriented Architecture is speed – the ability to deliver software products quickly to the marketplace. SOAs are typically first developed for internal usage (within the firewall) and then can be exposed to external trading partners to gain maximum efficiencies across the value chain.
4) Data Center Virtualization – Over the past 20 years, data centers have grown significantly as the requirements for data processing power and storage have exploded. From an IT infrastructure perspective, server farms, networking equipment, storage devices and massive facilities have consumed large amounts of resources and have also increased operating complexity. The fact that the vast majority of servers utilize only a fraction of their CPU power at any given moment provides a great opportunity to consolidate through virtualization. The main benefit of virtualization software is that multiple workloads can run on fewer servers. This can ultimately reduce the existing number of servers at the data center and also reduces the need for purchasing additional servers as the business grows. By consolidating server workloads, significant operating efficiencies and cost-savings can be gained.
HBS Consulting has helped many Clients leverage these technologies to develop Business and IT Strategies that both differentiate their product offerings while providing significant cost efficiencies.