Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

data-cloud2012 will be a watershed year for new business models worldwide. Three technologies will dominate the innovation scene and shape economies for decades to come. These three technologies are mobile computing, social media, and "big data for small decision support". All three while in high growth mode today will become paramount to existence for any business big or small, private or public, government or NGO. Underlying these 3 are 2 foundational pieces that enable everything - "Cloud Computing" & " Ecommerce".

First let's understand the 3 technologies and their interdependence.

Mobile computing today is a lot more than cell phones with fancy apps and cool games. Mobile devices today (and will continue to) have evolved to transaction devices that allow businesses to operate in real-time without borders. These devices will not only get more powerful but also become mainstream to how business is conducted. Economies like India have already adopted models where farmers in rural areas use mobile devices to trade on grain futures as far away as the Chicago board. Essentially they are doing eCommerce 9000 miles away!

Social media / networking is a lot more that "like it" or "friend me". It's about leveraging technology to reach all your stakeholders – buyers, suppliers, employees, board, financiers etc. While Facebook is still the poster child of this revolution, businesses are adapting applications that allow them to better understand their audience across the globe.

"Big Data" is the technology that allows you to gain insights into your company information that your company doesn't own! Seems crazy, but its a fact that only 50% of business intelligence resides in your company premises. The rest is floating out there in datasets you don’t own. For example, think about all the data about your company in Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn etc. How will you make decisions without that data? That's where "big data for small decision support" becomes relevant to your business growth and profitability.

To enable all of the above so your organization can deliver top line and bottom line growth – you need a comprehensive Cloud Computing and eCommerce strategy. Without these 2 most organizations will stagnate and lose to competition. Cloud Computing allows companies to free themselves of the "legacy" burden they are carrying in their in-house systems that not only are old but too many in number. This poor technology portfolio not only inhibits growth but prevents any meaningful eCommerce capabilities. Some may argue that "we don’t sell on the internet so we don’t need ecommerce" - they couldn’t be more blind or ignorant. eCommerce today a lot more than selling on the Internet. Ecommerce is your brand, it's your ability to demand plan real-time through seamless EDI, it's the ability to push out key information by customer segments to influence buying patterns, it's about reaching a global client base.

Platforms like NetSuite,, and ZOHO have brought cloud computing to mainstream business functions. Companies like SPS Commerce have enabled business intelligence in day-to-day EDI.

So, if you want your business to survive in the coming years, take a hard look at these technologies and enablers.

By Ashish Gadnis, Founder of Forward Hindsight (,  a provider of business consulting and cloud integration services and NetSuite's #1 Global Solution Provider in 2009.

Last modified on Friday, 23 March 2012
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