Sometimes turning the battleship happens pretty fast. A recent study by IBM of close to 1,500 business executives has confirmed the rapid adoption by enterprises of cloud, big data and analytics, social, and mobile technologies. The study found that 70-75% of enterprises currently use, and intend to increase their investment in, these technologies. A mere two years ago the percentage of business leaders who rated these technologies as strategically important was only 66% – now the number stands at 75%.
The Cloud as a Driver of Change
Clearly, business leaders have realized that keeping up with technology is no longer optional. One main driver of change has been the move to the cloud. The current price wars between cloud service providers Google, Amazon and Microsoft have made the move off premises more appealing for businesses. Economies of scale mean that even large corporations do not have the technological skill or manpower to compete with the offerings of these giants. Even those companies that are committed to keeping their data in house can still use the cloud for other areas outside their core business; for example, in application development or issue tracking. These business may be satisfied with a hybrid cloud solution for now, but it is likely that cloud applications will in the future offer better compliance, security and platform stability than they could implement themselves in house. Case in point: last summer the CIA announced it would invest $600 million in the cloud.
The changing IT environment is allowing businesses to speed their application development to deliver faster, more relevant software. “Agility will define the winners and the losers,” Craig Rees, Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s head of technology and product architect, was recently quoted as saying, “Now we have no more 18-month projects, when we end up delivering features to market that customers no longer need.” The adoption of agile methodologies was a way businesses sped their application development cycle in the past. But as the pace of software development further increases, the turnkey infrastructure offered in the cloud is essential for business, offering the ability to quickly build and deploy applications.
Other changes in the enterprise world include the wider use of big data and analytics. For three decades, highly structured relational databases have ruled – but that time is ending as the sheer volume of non-structured data continues to grow exponentially. Where is this data coming from? You are probably not surprised to find that much of it comes from social and mobile sources. And as the Internet of Things comes online, there will be even an even greater volume of data for businesses to draw on.
Lean, Flexible, Responsive
For independent software vendors, this means plenty of opportunity to create new applications to explore and use data. Even as the IT infrastructure moves off premise, application software development remains important to organizations. In fact, a recent survey by Tech Pro Research found that a full 84% of organizations either use or intend to buy enterprise application software within the next year. Today’s requirement for speed means that businesses look to ISVs for solutions, instead of trying to reinvent every wheel. Says Paul Muller, general manager of platform solutions for SAP Australia and New Zealand, “The rate of change in the last couple of years, even month by month, is very rapid. Businesses need to be extremely lean, very flexible and very responsive. What our customers are asking for now are business applications that can move as quickly as their customers are demanding.”
The IBM report concludes with some basic recommendations for organizations seeking a roadmap to the new technologies. Some of the top ones:
- Get equipped for advanced analytics by moving to newer, unstructured data types like NoSQL.
- Act on insight, not instinct. Employ tools that provide you with fact-based information for decision-making.
- Combine technologies strategically, using the cloud and other technologies to create new products.
According to the IBM study, the businesses that adapt to changing technologies like advanced analytics are the pacesetters who will maintain a lead over their competitors in the coming years.