It’s that time of year again, a time for reflection on the past and a look into the future, yes it’s wish list time! Here’s what the team at Refractiv would like to see in the year ahead.

Cloud computing for the masses

We know the value of cloud computing at Refractiv, each day the team use Microsoft Office less and collaborate in new and exciting ways using Google Apps for Business. My wife came home from work over the Christmas period in a rage because she’d lost 2 hours worth of work by not saving a document in Word (been there?) – of course I sympathised but I can no longer empathise. Google Docs automatically saves everything to the cloud – I can’t remember what it’s like to save a document! Google Apps is a joy. The ability to work together on the same document (even with external customers); the can’t-live-without Priority Inbox in GMail; the shared calendar functionality and just the brilliant simplicity of Google Apps makes me wish more companies discover it in 2011.

Mobile working shakes off the desktop shackles

The Apple, Android and even Windows Phone 7 platforms are starting to look solid and 2011 will see the introduction of a new iPad and more Android tablets to compete with Apple. Like cloud computing, mobile working really excites us as we enter 2011 – this blog started out life as a Google Doc, edited on an iPhone. We hope there will be improved business apps for all platforms in 2011, and I’ll be blogging about any spotted. We’d like to spread the mobile working message in 2011 – don’t be tied to your desk!

Social media maturity

2010 saw a big leap in adoption of social media and 2011 will see that growth continue. Location services such as Foursquare have added a new dimension for businesses and Google Places and Facebook Places will build on this in 2011. The ability for retailers to push offers out to customers nearby, or reward regular shoppers is a hugely exciting prospect; as is the thought that I can benefit from these offers as a customer – although I’m still not sure whether posting where I am is a good thing or a little bit creepy as yet! One wish we have for social media in 2011 is for companies to begin to see it as a serious business tool and not a plaything for a technology geek or marketing person. Too many companies dismiss social media due to not being able to measure the ROI in advance, but how do you measure the ROI of a sales conversation or a meeting over coffee? The only way to find out if social media will work for you is to test it out and measure responses – like you would with any sales activity.

Search Engine Optimisation vs Pay Per Click

In these testing times the understandable need for “quick wins” has had an impact on SEO vs PPC. SEO is a long term activity with no guarantees – it is time consuming and an easy activity to “cut” when budgets are tight. PPC is measurable, cost controlled and a well run campaign will produce results. I suspect that PPC will grow in popularity in 2011, with Adwords being the tool of choice – great for Google as click thru costs will increase. My wish however is that companies don’t give up on SEO and see the value of a natural ranking.

Internet browser standards

Mozilla browsers (Firefox etc) and Google Chrome started to eat in to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer market share in 2010 and this trend may well continue in 2011. That said, the beta version of IE9 has reportedly been downloaded by over 20 million users and looks set to address the many issues in standards compliance found in earlier versions. Our wish for this year is that companies make the switch to Firefox, our browser of choice (Firefox 4 is expected early 2011), try out Google Chrome or, at the very least, finally drop IE6 and upgrade to IE8 and IE9 upon launch. It may be a crazy dream but how great would it be for all websites to display the same across all browsers!

UK infrastructure improvements

2010 saw the launch of Superfast Broadband in selected UK areas – a really important step. Our wish in 2011 is that this is made available to more businesses and homes and offered to all ISPs. Our dream is that WIFI is made available to the UK population for free!

Here’s to an interesting 2011!