Your business might be humming along just fine right now. But what about five or 10 years from now? Are sure you and your employees will be able to make the most of evolving information technologies to stay competitive?
That’s a question all small- and medium-sized business owners should be asking … in large part because the technologies that could affect their companies’ futures are changing so rapidly, and at the same time having such a large, potential impact.
Take mobile technology, for example. More and more businesses are seeing employees using their own mobile devices – laptops, smartphones, tablets – at work (a trend known as BYOD, for “bring your own device”). But they’re also facing a growing expectation by customers, partners and others that they will support mobile access to company information, product ordering, support and more.
Many companies – and their employees – aren’t nearly prepared enough for the ongoing changes the mobile trend will bring. IBM’s latest Tech Trends Report found that some businesses lag far behind others in their ability to develop the mobile apps their employees will need to meet changing demands. Their capabilities might be enough to keep up with the competition (for now), but they aren’t nearly enough to keep them ahead of the pack in years to come.
IBM found the same holds true for other evolving technologies as well … in particular, cloud computing, business analytics and social business.
Overall, the Tech Trends study found that only one in 10 organizations has the IT skills needed to compete in all four areas (mobile, cloud, analytics and social). And the biggest barrier to making the most of these technologies across the board? Security is concern number one.
Whether it’s avoiding data losses when an employee loses his mobile phone, managing file-sharing in the cloud, controlling access to analytics-driven company insights or protecting customer privacy in social business, most companies need to do far more to ensure the safety and security of one of their most critical assets: information.
As one respondent to the IBM report said, “In terms of security, it’s not the computers. It’s not the network. It’s the information. It’s the ‘I’ part of IT. That’s where the value is, and that’s where the danger is.”
Avoiding that danger means businesses need to help their employees stay on top of the latest IT skills. It’s the only way they can stay as “future-proof” as possible.
“CEOs are clear about the external factors impacting their organizations most: technology and skills,” the Tech Trends study concludes. “To effectively address these interconnected imperatives, business and IT executives need new approaches for bridging skill gaps and helping their organizations capitalize on the strategic potential of emerging technologies.”
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.