So essential are these that we could have dubbed them ”cortex technologies.” Yet managing them well is far from a no-brainer.
While it can be difficult to define “core” technology, “expensive but not sexy” offers a reasonable starting point. Almost every variety of information technology is pitched as “essential,” but we think five areas merit particular attention in 2004, either because of their scope, their relevance to C-level executives, or the fact that their true cost can be elusive. These technologies all share the qualities of being mature and at the same time evolving, often quickly. They tend to be the focus of many a conversation between CFO and CIO. And they tend to define an enterprise’s IT architecture, and are likely to continue to do so.
Better, faster, cheaper — it’s all good. And much of it will arrive sooner than you think.
From microchips to networks to entirely new approaches to IT infrastructure, technology marches on. The post-dot-com malaise did not bring research to a halt; in fact, winnowing this list to merely five promising new technologies was far from easy. The developments described on the following pages vary in terms of their readiness for prime time, but all merit watching. Some are already finding their way to market; others remain rooted in laboratories but will likely find some commercial applications later in 2004. In the aggregate, they demonstrate that IT still has the capacity to leap forward in unexpected ways.
Beyond the spreadsheet lie a host of technologies that do more than simply crunch the numbers.
The current intersection of finance and IT is not limited to ROI analyses, budget scrutiny, and potentially testy conversations between CFOs and CIOs. The finance function itself is the focus of a number of IT initiatives that will propel corporate efficiency. Decisions on whether to invest in any of these newer technologies may still entail some good old-fashioned spreadsheet analyses, but that doesn’t mean the technological underpinnings of the finance department will remain static in 2004. What follows are profiles of five technologies that will not only allow finance to calculate the bottom line but greatly enhance it.