The Internet as we once knew it is no more.
The worldwide web used to be a “go to” location for all our information needs. Consuming online content and gaming became a recognized utility no different to electricity, transport infrastructure or water. Over time however, the Internet has also evolved to become a critical delivery platform enabling a raft of new services. Where we once read news or simply sent emails, we now use this “utility” to bank, shop, access business applications hosted in the cloud, watch the latest TV shows and listen to music, as well as interact with our friends, family and peers.
APAC is experiencing rapid growth of connected devices. This proliferation of devices – such as smartphones, tablets and laptops – allows us to connect to our networks remotely, highlighting the fundamental alterations in how we use and interact with technology. So much so, many of us haven’t even noticed it has taken place. For instance, consider the younger generation who no longer refer to “going online”, they are simply accessing applications and services with little or no regard to how they get there or where they exist.
Given our changing relationship with the online world and its growing importance to our general day-to-day lives, businesses are increasingly looking at how they can maximize its value and the consumer insight it delivers. This is driving significant technological change within IT platforms.
As organizations across APAC embrace the IT transformations that are underway – particularly in cloud, big data and mobile – and embark further along their journeys, there is a significant opportunity for businesses to better serve their customers through technological change while growing the bottom line.
A New Era of Cloud in 2014
We’re entering a really exciting era for cloud technology. Over the past year alone, cloud providers have increasingly discovered their individual and unique cloud plays – whether it’s supplying to specific industries or public, private or hybrid platforms – and have expanded their services accordingly.
One-size no longer fits all, and in 2014 businesses can expect to realize the benefits tailored cloud platforms deliver as providers begin to offer solutions designed to individual customer needs. As providers recognize their strengths, they will also identify partnership opportunities with vendors offering complimentary technology to their existing portfolios.
The progress we’re seeing in the cloud will also filter into the business network itself in 2014, where we’ll increasingly see networks being defined by dynamic functions and the introduction of business process service level agreements (SLAs). For instance, cloud platforms will be linked with traditional on premise applications, such as a CRM or SCM environment. This will enable the network to reshape itself and categorize its applications based on current activity levels so that network traffic and the needs of remote workers can be easily managed and prioritized.
Innovate in the Cloud
This year we’re also going to see a growing number of applications developed by businesses, a trend enabled by the fail-fast culture of cloud. Today, businesses are more willing to develop their own business applications as they are educated on the flexibility offered by the cloud. They simply need to buy the relevant computing space to test an idea, and then shut if off again when the idea has run its course. This means less risk and the cost of exposure for the business is greatly reduced when compared to the previous options and methods available.
With the cycle of applications being delivered and created gathering momentum in 2014,the Enterprise App store will arrive on the scene as CIOs provide employees with a selection of applications endorsed and supported by the organization. Until now this has had limited success, but with widespread adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and publicly hosted secure applications it will be an increasing focus for businesses seeking to enhance productivity.
Collaborate and Share
Businesses that deploy application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing developers to design products based on an organization’s services, will also achieve success this year. For instance, businesses can build their web conferencing capabilities into another web-based application, such as instant messaging, enabling seamless collaboration and communication between individuals.
The reality is that organizations rarely use applications in siloes, meaning those vendors offering API solutions this year that increase collaboration with complementary products and markets stand to benefit from increased sales with their customers.
Intelligent Insights Deliver Results
In recent times, big data has been more akin to trying to drink from a fire hydrant- we can access a lot of it but have little time to digest it. In 2014 however, businesses will start applying different lenses to data sets so that they can identify what is relevant to them or impacting upon their business. By focusing on the data that is relevant to them, businesses will be well placed to optimize their services and customer experience, similar to that same fire hydrant being attached to a water dispenser allowing us to choose what type of water, colour, and temperature we are interested in extracting at any point in time.
Looking further ahead into 2015, businesses will start to use the data they are collecting to predict future activity or the impact of unforeseen circumstances. This will be driven by the ability of Smart Data platforms assessing patterns and delivering forecast and trending data enabling improved business planning. For example, if a customer pays for their movie tickets via near field communication (NFC), the mobile operator could identify the most frequent days the user visits the cinema, and send them discount codes for these dates. Over the coming years, this approach to data analytics will become an extension of who businesses are and their operations.
Today, businesses across APAC have access to an unprecedented amount of tools and services from a variety of IT vendors, which is driving greater confidence in identifying innovative ways to address business challenges. Additionally, businesses are being forced to understand and adapt to the way consumers use and interact with technology from the devices we use to the ways in which we choose to engage with vendors and service providers.
Encouragingly, businesses are being very proactive and the next 12 months will be telling as more and more companies come to grips with the technologies making a real difference to their operations. Ultimately, the approaches being adopted will introduce increased business elasticity which will aid in addressing the two biggest ongoing challenges of business today: risk mitigation and bottom line profitability.
Nathan Bell is Director of Product at Telstra Global