Time For A Change: 5 Tech Trends Changing IT5:00 PM EST Tue. Nov. 13, 2012
In his COMDEXvirtual keynote, James Alexander, senior vice president of Toronto-based IT market research firm Info-Tech, shared his belief that the IT landscape will be dominated by five major trends: mobility, social media, big data, cloud and security.
"It's an exciting time to be in the IT industry -- we haven't seen this much change since Bill Gates came on the scene with the first PCs," said Alexander in his session, "Selling In Turbulent Times." The challenge facing solution providers regarding those trends will be to assist customers as they move forward by putting decision-making tools in their hands.
"Mobility leads to changing expectations for IT-anywhere/anytime support, new security and data concerns, the consumerization of IT, and the trend of employees bringing their own devices into the workplace called PUDs [personal unmanaged devices]," said Alexander. "IT leaders have a range of responses to PUDs [including] denial, rejection or outright support of the devices." The problem is that the people bringing these devices aren't asking for permission as they generally come in through the C-suite. Some companies are embracing this trend as a way to cut costs. Cisco currently supports about 50,000 personal devices and is moving to an even more radical paradigm next year by embracing BYOPC. It expects to save about 21 percent of the total cost of ownership by making this shift.
Alexander also stressed that solution providers need to help their customers monetize their mobile applications, as mobile marketing is projected to grow by 84 percent annually, reaching revenues of $57 billion by 2014.
"A lot of people think social media is just a fad or just for the kids, but when you consider that millennials will account for 50 percent of the workforce by the end of the decade, it's obvious that there's serious opportunity here," said Alexander.
While organizations are spending 50 percent of their demand generation dollars on driving traffic to their website by using a combination of paid media, direct messaging and SEO, they don't understand that index search engines, like Google, are losing market shares hand over fist to social search, according to Alexander. As a result, social media monitoring and management platforms are a significant opportunity for solution providers. The best organizations listen carefully to what's going on in the Twitterverse, so they can respond to customer concerns, demand activities and even brand issues. Distributing social media content on one's website without management could be disastrous to their image.
Big data, or unstructured data, needs to be mastered, managed and secured, and IT leaders are still learning how to do it. This provides an opportunity for solution providers to exploit analytics and insight to drive businesses forward. "When asked which of the five trends we will still be talking about down the road in five years, I inevitably come back to big data and analytics because it will have a more profound effect on businesses' success as we move into an age where competitive advantage is gained and lost in minutes and hours, not months and years," said Alexander.
Info-Tech recently moderated a panel with the CIO of Wal-Mart Canada and the conversation turned to competition and whom Wal-Mart saw as its biggest competitor -- Amazon. "Amazon is the world's pre-eminent dominant retailer of the last century, Wal-Mart, is most worried about a company with no bricks-and-mortar presence whatsoever because of its use of big data," said Alexander.
In order to support mobility, social media and big data, a utility-type way to store all of the data and applications is needed, and cloud is the logical response. "In reality, lets face it -- it's always going to be a hybrid world. IT executives need a strategy to take advantage of the external or public cloud domain as well, because if you don't, your competitors will," Alexander said. Solution providers trade on the trusted relationships they've developed with their customers over time, but make no mistake, all of your customers either are or will be moving to the external cloud in some way, according to Alexander. Allowing someone else to gain a foothold with your accounts because of an external cloud-based relationship will only disintermediate you over time.
Solution providers must not forget about data integration as a service and must find ways to become masters of the cloud to extend their value propositions in new and profitable ways. "Adding cloud offerings and customers is not a marathon; it's a sprint race to profitability," said Alexander.
Security is one of the biggest challenges that IT executives face today, especially with mobility and cloud. PUDs are carrying sensitive data, and that data is being lost. Mobile malware attacks have risen by 156 percent in the past year and continue to rise, according to Alexander.
This is probably understated when you consider that only 15 percent of mobile devices have any form of malware protection on them. Of that 15 percent, 1 out of 5 reported a malware attack. "At an average cost of $6.50 per lost record, solution providers can see that they need to get help for their customers to get this under control," said Alexander.
All of this sends a message to IT leaders that the traditional approach to security no longer works because they want some people outside of their firewall to have access to their data, according to Alexander. "It's the way the world operates. The good guys aren't all good -- some are bad, and some are negligent sometimes. Security needs to be retooled," he said.