There are a number of information technology trends that have the potential to change the way businesses operate in the next three years, according to the technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. In their presentation at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008 conference, analysts David Cearly and Carl Claunch identified 10 trends to watch. Four of the trends could have important implications for supply chain information management.
1. Cloud computing lets software providers deliver applications as a service over the Internet at a low cost. As a result, small companies can access many of the same software applications used by big companies. Cloud computing differs from software as a service (SaaS) in that both the data and the applications reside on the Internet.
2. Virtualization eliminates the need to have multiple repositories of data on several storage devices. The elimination of data duplication should decrease the number of storage devices and media that companies need to hold information, thereby reducing information technology costs.
3. Web-oriented architecture allows web browsers on personal computers to easily tap into applications hosted on the Internet. (Editor's Note: For more information on the implications of this technology for supply chains, see "Web services: Will build to suit" in the Quarter 4/2007 issue.)
4. Business intelligence (BI) applications draw data from existing programs and then analyze that information to provide insight into operational performance. A number of software vendors are developing BI applications to analyze supply chain operations.