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A Futurist Weighs in on Techies' Tomorrows

A Futurist Weighs in on Techies' Tomorrows

Dr. James Canton of the Institute of Global Futures tells what IT managers should be doing to lead future projects.

Dr. James Canton has made a living out of predicting the future: He's the CEO of the Institute of Global Futures, a Fortune 1000 advisor, author of such books as The Extreme Future and Technofutures, and an advisor to the new Google- and Nasa-backed Singularity University.

Despite the bleak economy and uncertain future, technology is key to our future, says Canton. Because of that tech workers and IT leaders are in a unique position to create opportunities for themselves. He weighed in on which trends were most important to techies.

Innovation, Enterprise 2.0 and the Crucial Need for Wireless

One of the key challenges facing businesses today is they don't always understand how even in turbulent times innovation can be a driver of sustainability as well as competitive advantage. It's a way to find new revenue and new customers. Use technology as a tool to grow-that is my mantra of how to get through this turbulent time. Many businesses will immediately start cutting back on budgets and IT and cutting people, but that has historically been the wrong way to act to crisis. The right way to react to a crisis, especially this one, is to reassess your IT strategy: Does it drive the business? IT organizations must ask themselves how they can improve productivity and address cost effectiveness as well as leverage innovation for value and profitability.

Web 2.0 innovations for the enterprise represent a fantastic opportunity to serve customers better, manage knowledge, and to be more effective at finding new opportunities. Web 2.0 tools can help us learn about the customers we have now, the customers we don't have, the markets we serve now, the markets we should be serving. Same for products and services. There are opportunities in Second Life, wikis, integrating new communication platforms such as Twitter and predictive analytics. One huge problem IT can solve for the enterprise is to be able to monetize and make more meaning out of information; Web 2.0 tools are an important way to do this.

To find out which Web 2.0 tools are right for you company, understand which tools your customers are spending their time with. That will lead you to understanding their culture better and also how to touch them better and which Web 2.0 applications your company should be paying attention to.

Another IT innovation is pervasive wireless technology. IT shops should be looking at wireless technology as a way to link customer, partner and company information. Right now everyone has wireless access, everybody's got a BlackBerry or iPhone device-but these wireless devices have not been integrated into the IT architecture. IT needs to make it so you can access the data warehouse, search for inventory, identify knowledge resources or do group CRM from a wireless device.

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