REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 11, 2010 — Members of the high-tech and electronics industry are gathering this week in Santa Clara, Calif., for the 2010 Microsoft Global High-Tech Summit, where a major focus is on preparing for an improving economy and moving to a new era of productivity. The theme for this year’s event is “Empowering Excellence: Accelerating Through the Turn.” Drew Gude, U.S. director of the High-Tech and Electronics Industry group at Microsoft Corp., will host the summit and kick off a day of information sharing and networking among fellow executives and industry leaders.
Drew Gude, U.S. director of the High-Tech and Electronics Industry group at Microsoft Corp.
“The economic environment was a big challenge for the high-tech industry this year. I’ll kick things off with a recap of where we’ve been and what we’ve come through and most important, how we can all prepare ourselves to accelerate through the turn,” Gude says. “I and other keynoters like Microsoft’s Dan’l Lewin will also highlight Microsoft’s point of view on the industry and outline what we see as the forces and megatrends impacting the industry.”
The trends that Gude sees as shaping the high-tech and electronics industry now and in the year to come include the following:
1) Consumerization of IT
Information Technology (IT) used to be the focus of only a specialized department in an office; now it’s a part of every consumer’s life. IT decisions are being driven more and more by consumer choices instead of just business needs.
“We’ve all begun to see a real blurring of the lines between business technology and personal technology,” Gude says. “For example, we’re starting to see Facebook and a number of other social computing technologies intermingling into a day in the life of a typical knowledge worker in our industry.”
Gude says there is a tremendous opportunity to harness both the behavior associated with and the capabilities of social computing to improve employee productivity in the workplace.
2) Social networking
“Companies are using social networking to drive their innovation process management,” Gude says. “They’re using it to capture ideas early on in the product conceptualization and development cycle and to inspire folks to provide feedback and participate in the innovation process.”
Information workers are also beginning to use social networking tools, including Microsoft SharePoint, to communicate with each other, engage with customers and reach out to the public.
3) Structured versus unstructured
For years, IT has been focused on highly structured and often siloed line-of-business applications such as an enterprise resource planning system, a customer relationship management system, an engineering life-cycle management system or a supply chain management system. Today, most collaboration is done on unstructured desktop productivity tools and only entered into the structured system at the end of the process.
Today, a lot of collaboration is happening on unstructured technology tools, such as personal mobile phones, and only later entered into a structured business system.
“If we don’t shift focus and priority to get those information workers and their unstructured world of collaboration interwoven into the fabric of our structured world strategy, then we’re not fully leveraging the peak potential of those resources,” Gude says. “In translation, organizations are losing a lot of the context needed to make informed business decisions.”
4) Generational gaps
A new generation of younger, tech-savvy employees is entering the work force with high expectations of capabilities that IT groups have traditionally shied away from because of security and risk. This generation doesn’t see the distinction between a business laptop and a personal laptop, Gude says.
“Company IT executives need to embrace the fact that their work force demands and expects that they have the same technology user experience at work as they do at home,” Gude says. “Companies are going to have to create governance, risk models and ways to manage it, because it’s here and you can’t stop it.”
5) Global regulation and compliance
Global organizations need to pay close attention to the various regulations imposed by government agencies, which can make the global marketplace a very dynamic place. For example, if a government enacts regulation that causes energy expenses to rise, it can change the equation enough to force companies to move manufacturing centers to areas closer to consumer demand.
“If the U.S. remains the peak demand area, you could see a resurgence of manufacturing operations in areas like Mexico,” Gude says. “There are already companies that we work with that are considering bringing some of its contract manufacturing back to the continent in which its products are actually consumed just because of the cost.”
6) Massive new markets
As countries like China and India flex their consumer muscles, demand for high-tech electronics stands to grow. The lack of legacy infrastructure systems in these countries is a key reason for the increased demand. For example, low-cost cellular towers are being built in areas of China that never had phone lines, leapfroging the old technology to create demand where none existed before.
“There’s no question that China is and will be the strongest growth market for the high-tech and electronics industry,” Gude says. “As wealth accumulates in China, it’s probable to say that China will eclipse the rest of the world in demand for high tech and electronics.”
7) Convergence and the cloud
As the Internet permeates more and more of our lives, people expect to be able to bring their work and personal lives with them in a variety of devices and experiences. Many TV set companies are trying to take advantage of this by selling Web services and content experiences directly on the set.
“The successful high-tech companies have figured out a way to merge the killer hardware with the killer content with the killer service, to deliver a seamless user experience across many screens,” Gude says. “That is a trifecta that equals success.”
Gude notes that Microsoft is a high-tech manufacturer itself, and is harnessing several of the trends above within products and services such as Microsoft SharePoint, “Project Natal” for Xbox 360, Microsoft Tag, Windows® phones and more. In addition, Microsoft is harnessing these trends internally with the social network Idea Exchange, Think Week and many SharePoint team sites.