Every analyst firm has a special area of concentration, and for Nucleus Research that focus is return on investment. Using the ROI filter on its crystal ball, Nucleus Research has made these technology predictions:
Technology budgets in 2004 will be flat. There's no evidence of a return to free-for-all technology spending. As tech projects have moved from paradigm-shifting to practical, corporate executives are insisting on the same kind of scrutiny as any other investment. At the same time, decision makers now have the tools and data to ensure that their tech investments deliver value and that they can monitor the costs and benefits at every step of deployment.
There is no Next Big Thing. The days of companies blindly spending on unproven technologies supported by vendor marketing are over. Although IT decision makers are watching for a Next Big Thing, they're carefully evaluating what they're told to see if it applies to their business. The main focus will continue to be on leveraging existing assets to deliver maximized value.
Marginal ROI will become the name of the game. In most companies, the projects that would deliver four-digit ROI by dramatically impacting productivity or cutting costs have already been accomplished. Upgrades are rarely revolutionary, but they can deliver incremental savings that improve corporate performance without breaking the bank.
Wireless will deliver ROI — but only in the right place at the right time. Wireless deployments will be driven by clear business needs and not enterprise-wide, all-holds-barred deployments. Companies that have to comply with RFID demands from their big partners will try to figure out a cost-effective means to do so; others will wait until benefits outweigh costs. Wireless network adoption will continue where it makes sense.
Interest in outsourcing will continue to grow as will sophistication in evaluating strategies. The success of outsourcing beyond the obvious project depends on the need for expert care and feeding of a development project or application. Often poor project design leads to a need for more complex management of a project than is really warranted. If you don't really know where you're going, you won't get there quickly.