A panel of ICT leaders discuss the business technology issues that will have the most impact in networked enterprises -- and how to manage them.
Ben Kepes, director, Diversity Ltd
"What technology trend will have the most impact on IT? Undoubtedly the cloud, regardless of whether organisations adopt it -- and, frankly, many organisations in this country are too risk averse or inward facing to make the plunge to the cloud -- cloud computing is the single biggest factor on the horizon. Any CIO/CTO who wants to be in the industry in five years should be actively appraising themselves of the opportunities and impacts of a move to the cloud.
IT sits in a perfect storm, the likes of which it has never experienced before. Changes in the workforce, technological advances and economic imperatives are all creating a problematic situation for which the cloud is the answer -- whether because of reasons of cost savings, of enabling a mobile and flexible workforce or because of the flexibility and scalability that the cloud brings, my prediction is that 2011 will be a bell weather year for the cloud -- here and elsewhere."
Richard Webb, CEO, Renaissance group of companies
"Probably the greatest thing that is affecting everything we do is the fact that companies are getting smaller. I truly believe we are approaching the 'corporation of one'. Ronald Harry Coase (who received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1991) wrote about it in 1936 in The Nature of the Firm. He predicted that in the industrial age, the auto companies could approach 400,000 employees someday and that we would have large-scale corporations. He also predicted at the end of the industrial age that corporations would then get smaller. As we move to a world where applications exist in the cloud and everything exists virtually, we actually approach a transaction cost of zero, or nearly zero. If that is true, then we all become corporations of one and we brand ourselves as one.
So whether it is the new 'Hobbit law' in this country, which says we can operate the movie industry with 7000 subcontractors in Wellington, my belief is that the future CIO is about the individual that manages the corporate knowledge base and the corporate interconnectivity, not only with employees but with all stakeholders and those stakeholders include suppliers and customers, prospects, shareholders and governments. The network of the future must be ubiquitous, redundant and fully secure.
And that is what I think the skills of the future CIO is about. Employees will bring tools to interconnect with the corporation and students will bring tools to interconnect with the educational institutions. So we will see CIOs having collaborative relationships with a number of hosted applications providers and ultimately, the architects of the secure and ubiquitous network.
My personal belief is they [should] stop spending a lot of time trying to understand and anticipate the next client that comes out. I think the tools will proliferate exponentially and they would be more discrete in their functionalities. If I was a CIO I couldn't keep up with it and I wouldn't. What I would be focusing my efforts on is architecting the next-generation network and that network is a social platform and a knowledge platform. You can take a lot of lessons from Facebook or others out there, who have built phenomenal networks that will allow people to engage no matter what the device is."
Peter Idoine, managing director, Oracle NZ
"Within the enterprise, as applications grow and the demand for performance increases, there is a need to optimise the IT infrastructure for operational efficiency, manageability, performance and agility. As this infrastructure evolves from standalone to consolidated systems and even to virtualise part of it through the datacentre, companies can progress at a pace based on business needs. It's an iterative process that involves people, process and technology.
Another critical area to consider is storage. In any computing environment, storage is critical not only to maintain and enable access to information and applications; but also to deploy applications faster and at a lower cost. When considering storage, ensure it provides management software and integration with applications, middleware, database and operating systems to deliver the throughput, flexibility, manageability and ease-of-use in environments for cloud computing, virtualisation, storage consolidation and secure data protection."
Donna Wright, services director, Microsoft NZ
"Cloud computing, mobility, social media and employee driven demand for device connectivity are the big trends of the moment. Most enterprises will have implemented some level of cloud computing within their technology landscape or be identifying areas to deliver the most strategic value -- infrastructure as a service to dynamically and cost-effectively meet processing demands, platform as a service to increase flexibility and time to market, or software as a service, such as email and collaboration solutions to deliver the 'anywhere office' (anywhere access, productivity improvements and flexible working scenarios). As cloud computing opportunities trend towards the prominent delivery mechanism, enterprises need to be clear on a 'private' (within the organisation or off premise with a partner) versus 'public' cloud strategy -- current skills and capabilities, data sovereignty and security needs for cloud solutions are fundamental in this planning.
Employee demands to connect their personal devices to the enterprise will continue to grow as these devices become more sophisticated in secure connectivity, content access and display, as well as seamless integration to enterprise applications and data. A clear security and asset management strategy will be precursor to enable this.
Social media as a mainstream communication channel to employees and customers will enable targeted communication to specific audiences, real time -- responding to questions, spreading good news and updates, or highlighting promotions. Dedicated resources to authentically manage the 'personality' and brand of the enterprise and enable 'the voice of the customer' to be heard and responded to 24x7 will be key to success."
Graeme Riley, managing director, SAP NZ
"Few industries spend as much time talking up 'change' as the ICT industry. New markets, competitive pressures, breakthrough technologies... 'new paradigms'!
But even allowing for industry hype, 2010 will still stand out as a seminal year for technology's impact on society, fuelled by the uptake of new devices, such as the iPad and smartphones (Blackberry, Apple iOS, Windows 7 and Android).
And 2011 will likely be seen as Year Zero -- the real start of the mobile revolution. Tablets, currently a consumer device, will quickly migrate to the enterprise this year. Powerful PC functionality delivered to a handheld device will start to make a real impact on our working and personal lives, improving personal and enterprise productivity. SAP sees the mobile enterprise application platform market offering a significant growth opportunity over the next several years, which is why the company bought Sybase in 2010.
More generally, companies will again be focusing on business growth, innovation and speed as we move out of economic slowdown. In choosing their enabling technologies, company leaders and line-of-business executives will be wanting faster deployments, outcomes and time-to-value. They can't afford to disrupt operations for system upgrades or experiment with new technologies.
This urgency will see an increased uptake of cloud computing and on-demand offerings across all sectors in 2011. These consumption models are now far better understood than in previous years and companies are more confident in determining where these fit in their landscape."
Keith Watson, managing director, Hewlett-Packard NZ
"Major shifts in IT strategy in 2011 will be driven from cloud computing and always-connected communities. With everything connected, service expectations have gone from days to instants. Today we live in an 'instant on' world -- a world where everything is becoming mobile, connected, interactive, immediate and fluid.
Three major trends are causing a new set of enterprise drivers and motivations that will fundamentally change how businesses and governments operate: evolving business models; fundamental shifts in technology with mobile, cloud and ubiquitous computing; and a changing workforce as social media, consumerisation of IT and changing demographics transform how work gets done in enterprises.
Organisations need to reinvent their use of technology to deliver innovation at every point in the value chain within the enterprise. This includes the services that are delivered, the mobile devices that provide access and the datacentres required to power an instant-on environment. Enterprises will need to look at embedding technology into everything they do or deliver, to better serve both its internal and external stakeholders. This type of connectivity will build new industries delivering real-time, immediate services."
Aaron Kumove, director, Horizon Consulting
"I think we need to look at this question separately for three different groups for whom the answers might be quite different.
For small businesses, the ability to behave like a big business via the use of enterprise-class, cloud-provided services will accelerate. SMEs can't afford to buy enterprise class software, but they can afford to rent it.
I am less optimistic on the use of public clouds (despite the hype) for large business who:
a) Can afford to purchase enterprise solutions.
b) May have concerns about trusting and relying on a public cloud.
I think we will see larger commercial players investing in social networking and portable devices as channels to market. I think we will see more location-aware services (both informational and transactional).
In government, I don't see the same drivers to invest in social networking or as much of an impetus to invest in location-aware services. The big driver I see in government here is around efficiency, which is why we are seeing moves around all-of-government shared services and procurement."
Symon Thurlow, technical director, Plan-b
"Cost consciousness -- positioning your IT function as building business value rather than a cost [is the key issue for enterprise ICT]. IT's ability to deliver business value increases constantly, as more of our business is engaged, won and delivered through information systems. Also, in the current global economic climate more than ever costs are being scrutinised and we are required to deliver more with less. Especially in times like these it is essential to ensure that your IT function is adding value to the business rather than simply being a cost.
How is that achieved? Make sure your IT team focus on delivering business value. Outsource non-core IT functions to specialist organisations. Create measure and reward KPIs that measure business value (cost saving, competitive advantage, shorter project delivery timeframes and so on).
With the IT team delivering value, the CIO's role becomes a positive value contributor rather than a cost custodian." CIO New Zealand
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