ibm_logo_2010.jpg Every year, IBM produces a number of reports that gauge how the market for different elements of IT is changing. One of the more useful ones is the study of midmarket CEOs and what they are doing in the IT space. This year, the study shows, they are doing collaboration and mobility.

There’s nothing really dramatic here, but it does underline two trends that have been developing over the past 12 months at a furious rate in all information-based areas of software: Mobility and collaboration

Mobile Workers, Strategy

In fact, only two weeks ago, at the Advanced Intranet and Portals conference in Amsterdam, we saw that, almost without exception, mobility was identified as the trend of the near future with mobile collaboration one of the big “must haves” of many mid and large sized enterprises.

Of course, there is anecdotal evidence that these are trends that have been well established for a long time among workers who spend a lot of time on the road. Using their own devices, they were doing work on the road as well as collaborating with colleagues and customers.

What’s different now is that these two trends appear to be institutionalized, and this report appears to bear that out. Mobility and collaboration are not just accidents -- they are part of company policy.

Collaborative Workplace

It is impossible here to tackle the full report in detail, but there are some interesting crumbs that we should point out. Entitled Midmarket Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study, it says that compared to the similar research carried out for last year’s report, twice as many CEOs see creating a more collaborative work environment as a top priority.

Again, looking at enterprises in the mid-market, this looks like CEOs trying to get on top of something that is already happening under their noses, rather than a forward-thinking strategy, but that’s just a personal observation.

And IBM has some figures to back this up. It cites 45% of midmarket CEOs seeing the need to create a more open business environment, and -- and this figure is really interesting -- 70% of mid-market CEOs aim to partner extensively with other companies as external relationships will pay a more critical role in business strategy.

Social, Collaborative Business

You can just feel the words social networking, social media, social collaboration and social business coming on here. And that does, in fact, appear to be where CEOs are looking to go.