The changing face of IT services

With IT becoming an essential tool for productivity and collaboration how do organisations deal with users who expect everything to be mobile, connected, interactive and immediate?

The coming year is shaping as pivotal for business and government agencies as they grapple with major decisions on the direction of their technology systems. The rise of social media, demand for mobile services and increase in big data has resulted in IT becoming more than an essential tool for productivity and collaboration. IT is key to delivering new services to consumers, citizens and employees who expect everything to be mobile, connected, interactive and immediate. 

According to Gartner: “the top 10 technologies are emerging amidst a nexus of converging forces - social, mobile, cloud and information. Although these forces are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionising business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders.”

This connectivity brings about enormous potential, allowing businesses to deliver new products and services to their customers in new ways. It also blurs the lines between professional and personal environments, where people view their personal mobile computing devices as the new power tools that deliver powerful capabilities to create and connect in the workplace. As a result, CIOs are challenged to protect corporate networks and information, while delivering services that allow users to take advantage of the information and processing power living in the cloud.

The shift to Everything-as-a-Service

For organisations today, gaining competitive advantage requires technology be at the forefront of innovation and growth. To address this we are starting to see leading organisations leverage the cloud to deliver ‘everything-as-a-service’, from computing power to business processes to personal interactions.

As we move into 2013, we are seeing the following trends emerge as organisations look to address challenges created by information explosion, mobility and social media and identify new ways of delivering services that drive business innovation and growth. They need to rethink how they can leverage technology to capitalise on these latest innovations to drive growth.

Cloud as the platform for Everything-as-a-Service

In preparing for a world where everything will be delivered as a service, many enterprises and government departments are viewing the shift to cloud as a key business strategy to tackle challenges in a demanding and unpredictable environment. Certainly technological innovations made possible by cloud can provide unconstrained access to IT services including infrastructure, applications and information.

In order to drive true business value, CIOs must choose how and whether to implement cloud services alongside traditional sourcing models – and they must ensure it all works reliably. They have to think differently about IT and move beyond being a builder of internal infrastructure and services to brokering and consuming third-party services.

Hybrid models enable organisations to maximise their existing infrastructure and retain internal control while also being able to use public cloud resources where required. In fact, research commissioned by HP indicates that hybrid delivery will be critical to driving successful outcomes and innovation. By 2020, senior business and technology executives expect public and private cloud delivery models at their organisations to almost double.

Moving forward cloud computing will shift from delivering small, consumer-focused services to sustaining secure, predictable and reliable enterprise-scale workloads. Successful organisations will embrace cloud solutions that combine private, managed and public cloud environments with traditional IT infrastructure to deliver everything-as-a-service built around customer needs. This will enable organisations to harness the power of the cloud to deliver increased enterprise innovation, enhanced agility and improved financial management.

Turning big data into big value

In a world where information is everywhere, enterprises are beginning to understand that deriving actionable insights from all types of data is the key to driving success. According to recent HP research, more than 90 per cent of organisations plan to incorporate unstructured data into their enterprise insights, processes and strategy in the next three years.  However, the extreme volume, variety and velocity of information places unprecedented burdens on organisations and only 10 per cent of executives said they currently incorporate unstructured data into their enterprise insights, processes and strategy.

Legacy approaches to information management—which rely on out dated information architectures, infrastructure and analytics—fail to discover the concepts and value found in all forms of information. They are also incapable of cost-effectively scaling and processing the oceans of information collected in unstructured, structured and machine data in real time.

These shortcomings are especially evident in an age when changing customer sentiment plays out over Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, the web, phone calls and emails. In fact, Gartner predicts that “big data will once again become 'just data' by 2020 and architectural approaches, infrastructure and hardware/software that does not adapt to this 'new normal' will be retired. According to Gartner, organisations resisting this change will suffer severe economic impact”.

Leveraging a cloud platform to deliver data analytics tools and insights as a service, organisations can better understand their customers and identify trends, make accurate forecasts and quickly adapt their businesses to respond to new opportunities. Moving forward, organisations across the region will continue to look for ways to manage and understand this flood of information to use it to their advantage.

Keeping on top of security

Cloud, mobility and big data initiatives are helping organisations solve pressing challenges, while driving accelerated innovation, enhanced agility and improved financial management. However, these initiatives also can introduce big security concerns.

According to recent research  in Asia Pacific and Japan, security issues around cloud services and big data are top of mind for more than two thirds of business and technology executives.  The majority of those surveyed are concerned about mobile data loss or theft. In addition, more than half of respondents admitted that their organisations spend more time and money on reactive measures than proactive risk management.

With 74 per cent of organisations in Asia expecting a significant security breach within the next 24 months, a reactive, perimeter-based approach to security is no longer sufficient. Without a proactive information risk management strategy, enterprise growth, innovation and efficiencies are hindered.

Enterprises must protect what matters most to their organisations by adopting intelligent security solutions that prioritise security resources to help identify threats earlier and enable a faster response time.

Preparing for the services-enabled economy

The rapid adoption of services delivered via the cloud, increased connectivity and proliferation of data are having fundamental impacts on the role of technology in business, government and society in general. Organisations can now have infrastructure, applications and information at their fingertips in an instant to take advantage of opportunities,

By leveraging a hybrid delivery model, organisations can address issues like information optimisation, social intelligence and big data to drive new business models and achieve rapid growth. But at the same time they must be forever mindful that this new world is fraught with security risks and these must be effectively managed across the enterprise.

In a services-enabled information economy, enterprise and governments will have unprecedented capacity to quickly access and analyse data to deliver true value and insights.

Alan Bennett is the VP of enterprise services at Hewlett-Packard's South Pacific division.