Unisys Says 2011 To Be Year Of Practical Application Of Cutting-Edge Technologies

Unisys Corp. recently announced its technology predictions for 2011.

Over the next year, Unisys predicts, six disruptive technology trends that are reshaping the IT industry will move into greater everyday use in the enterprise as organizations seek practical ways to make their end users more productive and their mission-critical systems more secure and cost-efficient.

"Practicality will be the theme in 2011 as organizations seek a tangible and rapid return on their IT investments," said Fred Dillman, Unisys chief technology officer. "With tight cost controls remaining an everyday fact of life, organizations are looking for technologies that save money, increase worker productivity, and solve pressing security issues. We expect to see organizations make highly targeted investments in emerging technologies for very practical uses in mission-critical environments."

From its perspective as a provider of mission-critical services and solutions, Unisys sees six technology trends as key to reshaping the delivery of critical IT services to employees and end users:

1. Cloud Computing will accelerate from pilots to production, with private clouds leading the way. Many organizations remain concerned about shifting their mission-critical workloads and sensitive data to public cloud-based environments. This has limited some cloud applications to test and development environments.

Over the next 12 months Unisys expects organizations to implement private cloud computing environments for specific production-based applications. This, Unisys says, will be a key steppingstone to broader use of public cloud environments over the next two to three years.

"We are starting to see organizations move from kicking the tires around private clouds to starting to implement and execute," Dillman said. "We also expect to see greater use of hosted software-as-a-service applications as clients look to take advantage of the cost economies of the cloud quickly and efficiently. Data security in the cloud will remain a key consideration, and we expect to see cloud security technology to be a major growth area."

2. Consumerization of IT trends will continue to accelerate within corporate IT environments, as new generations of powerful consumer mobile devices such as smartphones, netbooks, and tablet devices continue to proliferate, displacing PCs and laptops as technologies of choice among business users. This will result in significant changes to end-user support and customer interaction support requirements within the enterprise as more of these consumer devices are being used to access mission-critical applications beyond corporate e-mail and voice.

The long-dreamt possibility of "multi-modal access" for end users – being able to access enterprise resources via any device, any time, any where – is closer to reality now than ever before, Unisys experts say. But with that increased convenience and usability comes the need for enterprises to modernize information access and support capabilities.

"The consumerization of IT wave will require enterprises to change old standardized approaches for end-user support in order to manage and secure myriad devices and applications within the enterprise," Dillman said. "In addition, we expect more organizations in 2011 to tackle modernizing customer interaction points with mobile access, touch-screen, geolocation, and audio/video capabilities to drive greater productivity and connection with an increasingly mobile, connected customer base. Those who don't risk being left behind as consumer buying patterns continue to evolve."

3. Social Computing will move beyond marketing and increasingly be used both as a productivity tool within the enterprise and as a way to revolutionize client engagement. Organizations will tap social computing tools for broad-based knowledge management initiatives that drive greater time- and cost-efficient collaboration across their global workforce.

In addition, Unisys expects organizations to integrate social computing tools with transactional business applications to bring greater richness and depth to interactions with clients and partners.

"Organizations have done a lot of work to get a corporate presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter," Dillman said. "Now we're starting to see more clients think about how they use these advanced tools inside their company, inside the firewall, to enable secure, internal collaboration among a globally dispersed workforce. Increasing collaboration in large organizations is critical to improving their responsiveness to both clients and business partners."

4. Smart Computing will gain popularity as a way to automate and simplify IT systems. Using intelligent analytics and other advanced automation tools, organizations will establish "sense-and-respond" systems to automate complex back-end processes that manage devices within the data center and in the distributed environment.

"Software and hardware maintenance continues to consume a disproportionate amount of an organization's typical IT budget," Dillman said. "Smart computing technologies offer great promise for organizations to take out much of the cost associated with day-to-day maintenance and shift those investment dollars to innovation."

5. "Fit for Purpose" Appliance Offerings will grow in popularity as the computing platforms of choice for specialized applications. Appliances are turnkey computing devices that bundle all the necessary hardware and software for handling specialized tasks such as database management, security, Web commerce, voice mail, and ERP packaged software. Unisys expects to see appliances emerge for industry-specific applications such as voice messaging, air cargo management, healthcare, and other specialized industry functions.

"Instead of buying general purpose computers, infrastructure software stacks, packaged applications software and doing the integration themselves, organizations are becoming more interested in pre-configured specialty appliances that can be deployed quickly and conveniently. As technology integration has become more time consuming, expensive, and risky, many organizations are looking to simplify the process of technology deployment and ongoing maintenance," Dillman said.

6. Cybersecurity technologies such as biometrics and sophisticated monitoring applications will move to the forefront of the security discussion. As organizations work to mitigate an ever-growing array of risks from cyber crime to cargo bombs, Unisys expects organizations -- particularly government agencies, financial institutions, and airports -- to invest in advanced identity and credentialing and secure supply chain systems.

In addition, as cybercrime grows more sophisticated and IT infrastructures become more complex, Unisys expects organizations to take a more holistic, integrated approach to security across the enterprise. Organizations will increasingly work to integrate their myriad physical and digital systems into single-pane dashboards that enable them to better monitor security threats across their organization and manage overall compliance requirements.

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