By Mark Seemann, the CTO at Outsourcery

Whilst 2010 saw the unveiling of hot new products like the iPad and iPhone4 as well as the widespread adoption of the Windows 7 and Android operating systems, 2011 looks set to offer more technology treats.

Mark Seemann, the CTO at Outsourcery, said, “As we enter 2011 with optimism and trepidation in equal measure, it is clear that the number one objective for many small and medium sized businesses will simply be survival. 2011 will also undoubtedly be the year of the Cloud. The cost reduction that Cloud software technology can bring to businesses will mean that it will become mainstream in many counties and in many business sectors. My top 12 business technologies for 2011 will be focused on not only Cloud software technology but also the hardware devices that connect users to it.”

Cloud Software Technology Bets

Communication Technology:

1)Microsoft Lync — The new Unified Communication Service from Microsoft will enable businesses to communicate more effectively by introducing voice, video and virtual meetings using software powered from the Cloud.

2)Hosted IP PBX & SIP Trunking — Various service providers are now selling phone systems as a service through the Cloud; this gives companies a more cost effective way to deploy telephone systems and makes connecting home workers a snap. Sip Trunking is a very low-cost alternative to the traditional telephone line, SIP Trunking gives businesses a way to circumvent traditional Telco’s, by using their computer network instead. Cost savings can be up to 40% savings on line rental and call costs. SIP Trunking is usually deployed as a Cloud service.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Technology:

3)Microsoft CRM 2011 Online — The latest release of Microsoft’s customer relationship software is designed to give businesses — small and large - a complete system to optimise their sales, support and marketing functions saving money and improving the customer experience. This new version is available through various cloud services — including Microsoft’s own.

Collaboration, Analytics and Workflow Technology:

4)Microsoft SharePoint 2010 — This software allows businesses to share and collaborate using more than a web browser. Customers can create portals and use them to interact with customers, suppliers and employees. SharePoint also contains powerful workflow and reporting tools giving businesses more streamlined processes and giving them deeper insight into their business operations.

Hardware Virtualisation

5)Microsoft’s Hyper V Cloud — This software technology allows businesses and service providers to easily “virtualise” their existing server hardware assets and either consolidate them to fewer servers or move them completely to the cloud. Virtualisation is really a core technology driving cloud computing and I believe that Hyper V Cloud will make it easier and more affordable for businesses to leverage their existing computer assets. Hyper V Cloud is currently the underdog to VMWare’s ESX product however I think Microsoft will make up substantial ground in 2011.

Business Hardware Technology Bets

Tablet PC Technology:
Apple’s iPAD has become a great success in both the consumer and business space and re-invigorated the Tablet format. My prediction is that 2011 will see a huge advancement for this format with many providers launching their products. My bet will be the tablet market as a two horse race between Apple and Microsoft.

6) Microsoft Tablet OS — The rumours are that Microsoft is readying a new tablet PC operating system. I suspect this to be true and would hedge a bet that it will be based on the recently launched Windows Phone operating system as it is more uncluttered than the PC based Windows for touch screen usage.

7) Apple iPAD 2 - building on the success of the first iPAD, Apple will surely launch the second version of their tablet and I expect this to include video conferencing as standard — a boon for business.

8)Android Tablet - numerous Tablet devices powered by Android are expected to launch in early 2011 including the Cisco Cius, Vizio, Toshiba and rumours are that HTC will be launching a unit called Scribe this year.

Smartphone Technology:

Smartphone use will continue to increase in business and I suspect their “dumb” phone equivalents will slide into oblivion within the UK business space by the end of 2011 or early 2012. The current UK market for “dumb” phones exists because of their low price and manufacturers like Nokia are bringing up the rear with ultra-low cost Smartphones (~£100) so there is really no reason to give an employee a dumb phone anymore.

9)Apple iPhone - The iPhone will continue to make progress in the Business space, driven by the application availability and the new multi-tasking capability.

10) Google’s Android - The Android platform will continue to go from strength to strength in the consumer space and 2011 will see the platform make substantial ground within the business space.

11) RIM’s BlackBerry — despite the talk of RIM suffering from the influx of devices from Google and Apple, the BlackBerry has gone from strength to strength in 2010 in the business space. Providing RIM can keep the innovations coming through, then I believe they will continue to prosper in the business smartphone space.

12) Windows Phone - Microsoft released its new phone operating system in 2010 and despite the naysayers, it was really quite good for version 1, if not the finished article. I expect the update to be released in the first half of 2011 which will include back-grounding of applications, interface improvements (including cut and paste) and some new applications such as a mobile Lync client (see Microsoft Lync above). The remaining Achilles heal will be the available Windows Phone applications — currently a shadow of the AppStore, however Microsoft has huge resources at its disposal to rectify this situation so I expect this platform to prosper in the medium and long term.