On the Cover
The time to act is now
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 06:33
Written by Nicola Mawson
Forces like an information explosion, social networking, mobility and the advent of cloud computing are colliding to form what Gartner has named the nexus. This convergence will change and challenge businesses, which need to act now, or become displaced.
Gartner Africa MD René Jacobs, speaking at the recent annual Symposium, held in Cape Town, said the meeting of social, mobile and cloud means that information can be accessed by anyone, anywhere and at any time.
An enterprise can succeed or fail, depending on how it responds, and the time is now, said Jacobs. She says companies must choose to either change, or be displaced. IT must respond to the nexus, says Jacobs.
The forces push innovation and disruption on their own, together they revolutionise business society, said Peter Sondergaard, senior VP of research. Companies need to react to changes and evaluate how they embrace the nexus, he said. “IT is changing the world. IT professionals are changing the world; you can’t say that about accountants.”
Jacobs said the nexus is as important in Africa as the rest of the world, which has 434 million mobile subscribers, 140 million Internet users and 40 million Facebook subscribers.
Despite the current economic challenges, Gartner’s 2012 CEO survey found that business leaders across all geographies are prioritising growth over defensive cost cutting, and there is an ongoing trend towards emerging markets, said Jacobs.
Some 75% of the CEOs surveyed want to explore opportunities in the Brazil, Russia, China, India and SA (BRICS) region, said Jacobs. The region, which in the past was a source of raw materials, is increasingly being seen as a source of innovative business models, she added.
Jacobs pointed out that the most innovative banking solutions are to be found on the “streets of Africa” and not in the banking centres of the world. She added that IT has been one of the biggest drivers of economic growth in the past 30 years.
However, computing is changing and the change is inescapable for businesses. The nexus is the next age of computing and will create risks and challenges, but can also be used as a tool for growth.
The nexus accelerates change and creates risks and security challenges, but provides businesses with opportunities to thrive in new and innovative ways, said Tina Nunno, VP and distinguished analyst. She said the nexus is creating and incredible opportunity to innovate with IT, but it can be difficult to manage.
Andy Kyte, VP and Gartner fellow, said the world is at a critical point in the history of IT and those who hold onto old thinking will be swept away by the tide of the forces.
SUM OF THE PARTS
Cloud is industrialisation of IT, while mobility is pervasive access to everything, and the next stage of social collaboration is mass customer, citizen and employee involvement with enterprises, Sondergaard noted.
Sondergaard said there is an evolution towards industrialisation of IT services and there is a major enterprise force around the virtualisation of IT infrastructure and a shift in software platforms. He said the trend is practical in some aspects, as enterprises will not be able to afford the infrastructure they currently have, so they have to cut costs.
On average, companies need 60% more storage each year, said Sondergaard. He predicted that the next wave of cloud-based systems will include social aspects from concept and then create the platform. “You can’t afford to run IT like a bunch of specialists putting together Lego blocks.”
The forces of mobile, information and social networking are driven by the need to grow revenue or interact with customers, says Sondergaard. A sixth of the world’s population is on a social network and companies need to understand the “extreme” behaviour, he said.
Currently, there are 800 million smartphones, 1.5 billion PCs, 3.6 billion mobile phones and five billion Internetconnected devices, said Sondergaard. “That is incredible change in just two decades.”
Enterprises are starting to develop mobile platforms and are starting to do this with big data, said Sondergaard. He said these services can drive revenue and big data is starting to become a reality.
Information is the oil of the 21st Century and analysis will become a combustion engine. The impact of these forces will make the architecture of the last 20 years obsolete, commented Sondergaard.
Large organisations are trying to take information and fi gure out how they can turn it into revenue by providing value to the customer, said Sondergaard. For example, cars could be fi tted with sensors that lead to insurance based on driver patterns, he said.
The driver of the nexus is the consumerisation of IT, it drives down price points and is the reason enterprises struggle with mobile-based platforms, said Sondergaard. The break is security and regulation, which will slow things down, he added.
* Nicola Mawson was hosted at the symposium courtesy of Gartner.
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