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Report: Organizations Finding Value in CRM, VDI and Unified Communications

Some IT technologies are gaining traction more than others in organizations, according to a Computer Economics study.

The Irvine, Calif.-based research and consulting firm recently released its "Technology Trends 2014" study, which is based on a survey of 209 IT organizations around the globe. Of the 15 technologies surveyed, six stood out as being in the "low-risk/high-reward" category for organizations. The top six included:

  1. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
  2. IT asset management software
  3. Desktop virtualization (all types, including virtual desktop infrastructure [VDI] and desktop as a service)
  4. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  5. Unified communications
  6. Software as a service (SaaS)

Computer Economics made that low-risk/high-reward assessment based on the cost predictability of the technologies plus their positive return on investment for organizations within two years' time. The positive showing for CRM systems may be due to the increased use of cloud-based offerings, which can make costs more predictable for organizations, according to Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics. A lot of the respondents were using Salesforce.com's CRM. As for IaaS, it's still considered to be at the "immature stage," per the study, despite the positive survey results.

The study also looked at technology maturity vs. organizational investment rates. The top five "mature" technologies with a "high-investment/high-adoption" rate, per the survey, included:

  1. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  2. Tablets
  3. SaaS
  4. Social business and collaboration
  5. Data warehouse and business intelligence

Organizations tended to spend a lot of money on their ERP systems but they weren't necessarily meeting their cost projections. For instance, many organizations had problems estimating support costs for ERP systems, according to the study. Only 22 percent of organizations reported a positive return on investment for ERP systems, despite heavy investment.

The report noted that cloud-based ERP systems are on the horizon. NetSuite and Plex were listed as established ERP SaaS providers. Other players in the SaaS ERP space included Business ByDesign (SAP), Workday, Intacct and Salesforce.com entrants. Established ERP vendors are cloud-enabling their products, including "Microsoft, Oracle, Epicor, Unit4, and others," according to the report.

John Longwell, an analyst with Computer Economics, noted an uptick in desktop virtualization and unified communications as a couple of highlights in this year's report.

"It appears to me that desktop virtualization may be overcoming its hurdles and we're starting to see some uptake on that," Longwell said, in a phone interview on Friday. "Unified communications is another area in the infrastructure that has been slowly growing, [and] I think it's becoming a little more mainstream. There was no surprise about SaaS growing or the interest level in business intelligence and no surprise about the investment rate in mobile technologies."

Longwell offered other nuances about desktop virtualization. The study indicated that about 10 percent of adopters were using desktop as a service.

"Of all the companies in our survey, we're getting about 30 percent of those that are doing something that have virtual desktop implementation," Longwell said. "I think we're seeing desktop virtualization implementation starting to grow again after a hiatus of the last couple years. Of that 30 percent, about a third are using desktop as service, so that's about 10 percent, which is a strong number, but they could just be toying with it."

Most (62 percent) of the respondents were from North America. The survey was conducted between Nov. 1, 2013 and January 31 of this year. Computer Economics has been publishing various reports on IT spending trends since 1990.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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