SMAC: Hype or Reality?

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Have you heard the latest technology acronym that is revving up business executives? Vendors claim that SMAC - Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud - is the quadruple mix of technological elements that will rescue businesses from potential irrelevancy. If executives fall for the SMAC hype, they could end up smacking themselves in the forehead with regret.

I read an article recently about how the Indian IT industry is shifting to take advantage of the SMAC movement. According to NASSCOM—the organization that represents the Indian software industry—Indian IT vendors are slated to generate over $225 billion in SMAC related revenue by 2020. These overseas entrepreneurs made their bread and butter helping companies shave operating costs and organize their IT infrastructures. Now they are launching luxury product lines that comprise the SMAC suite of technologies to take their businesses to the next level.

Wise executives will be wary of letting vendors with their own agendas overly influence decisions regarding what technologies should be rolled out when and why. I’ve said it virtually every time a new technology—in this case four technologies—threaten to distract executives from their business goals. The problems and opportunities that are fundamental to the business should drive technology deployments. Chasing after the latest technology du jour could easily derail innovation and squander valuable resources.

So many businesses seem to repeatedly fall into the trap of believing that the latest technology will supplant the need for proper prioritizing and planning based on the unique needs of the business. Not every company needs all the SMAC components with the same urgency. Moreover, some companies need to focus on technology that SMAC doesn’t include, such as visualization, sensors, or flexible, transparent displays.  Focusing on SMAC can also miss more fundamental capabilities that may be lacking, such as agile app building or field tech support.

I find one of the most risky aspects of this latest trend is that it tempts businesses into biting off way more than they can chew and expending four times the effort on technology they don’t need. For example, is it necessary to have a mobile app in the cloud with analytics on it? Overkill, maybe? Businesses can’t be good at everything, nor will all of these technologies carry business value.  I advocate developing an explicit technology innovation capability to match the emerging technology pipeline with specific business goals.  That way, each technology investment has an explicit link to a business objective or metric that the organization is trying to improve.

Innovating is merging the art of the possible with the scope and priorities of business change, not following the pack down the latest rabbit hole. Literally buying the hype in the hope that it’ll make the dreams of investors come true almost never works out the way businesses think it will.

All hot emerging technologies aren’t right for every business. With all the hype about SMAC, now is the perfect time for businesses to remember to focus explicitly on linking IT investments to business drivers. Prioritizing and planning is paramount to avoid get pulled into the buzz saw of buzzwords.

Do you think SMAC is hype or a business reality? Will executives that are swept away by SMAC smack themselves in the forehead or pat themselves on the back?

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