As the year draws to a close, the number 12 is on my mind for all kinds of reasons. There’s the twelve days of Christmas, twelve months in a year, 2012, twelve eggs in a dozen (I admit to a fair amount of holiday baking). I’m always one to look forward more than look back, so instead of wrapping up with a year-end review of things, here are 12 technology advice tips that should help make the coming months productive, profitable and rewarding:

12. Train your team – Scrimp elsewhere and spend those dollars training employees, as technology is useless without the skills to exploit it. It also ranks higher than pay in keeping employees satisfied, so you are getting a proverbial extra bang for the buck.

11. Are you “Available” or “Away”? – Everybody is collaborating across distances these days, so knowing how and when to get hold of people is imperative. Other parts of unified communications (instant messaging or VOIP) are sexier, but being able to tell if someone is available to communicate is what makes it truly useful.

10. Virtualize it – That goes for servers, storage, networks and desktops. Gain better utilization of your technology investments while making them easier to manage. Sounds like a pipe dream, but virtualization is what really makes internal “cloud computing” feasible and why it should be part of your strategy.

9. Get serious about security – Gone are the days where unsophisticated teenage hackers were your only worry. Today, it is criminal gangs and state-sponsored cyber spies with very specific targets and industries in their sights. Security needs to be baked in from the beginning, not tacked on later.

8. Open source – Utilize the great tools out there for developers while carefully reading the use agreements. Also, consider closely whether you need help, as the software may be “free” but the companies that exist to support it can charge as much as the commercial alternatives.

7. Everything as a service – This is the external “cloud,” where you can leverage the scale of others’ data centers for applications, computing platforms, storage and just about any other technology building block. Going forward, these options should be considered first before bringing anything in-house.

6. Consolidation will continue – Talk to your technology partners often and develop contingency plans for what you will do when they get acquired or acquire others. Products can go away in a blink, costs can change dramatically and support can go from great to non-existent, and it is all out of your control.

5. Mobile mania – Smartphones are everywhere. Your customers, employees and partners all expect than any content or application on the web should also be consumable via mobile. Is your web and mobile strategy truly integrated? If not, it should be, and it should have a dedicated team.

4. Tablets take over – Is the desktop dead? At your company, has the iPad moved beyond a status symbol or customer impresser to become a real business tool? Are you developing now for an additional platform (Web, mobile, tablet, etc.) or do you have a strategy to make it all work? Hint: see #10

3. Storage strategy – You need one, as Lee’s (my) law (with all due respect to Gordon Moore) says storage needs always expand to consume all storage resources at an ever-quickening pace. Get on top of this now before you find yourself scrambling daily just to keep from running out of space.

2. Consumerization of IT – Embrace the tools everyone is using at home as the expectation will be that they can use them at work. Ignore this at the peril of being left behind by your competitors, or even worse, being made irrelevant by your co-workers. It is not as scary as it sounds.

1. Always connected, always on – Assume this constant connectivity is already pervasive and plan accordingly, because it will be before you know it. It will lead to opportunities, applications and ecosystems that will make the disruptions of the last 12 years look moderate.

As you consider these dozen tips in the opening days of 2012, don’t forget that they are meaningless without the lens of how you apply them to delight your customers, as that is what we should all be in business to do! Have a very happy new year and I’ll see you soon.

Continue the Discussion

Where are your tech efforts focused for the new year? What piece of advice would you offer? What new technologies are you looking forward to exploring?

Originally published Dec 29, 2011 1:00:53 AM, updated December 02 2014