INTERNET OF THINGS
The internet of things (IoT) sets the precedent for a dynamic global network infrastructure, with self-configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols.
In layman’s terms this means physical and virtual ‘things’ having identities, physical attributes and virtual personalities. At one end of the spectrum this takes the shape of ultra-smart robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) and at the other end, it’s smart utility meters (Nest thermostats), virtual assistants (Amazon Echo aka ‘Alexa’), wearable tech (FitBits and Apple watches) and connected cars (vehicles equipped with internet access).
When it comes to these ‘things’, an additional trend that is set to emerge is IoT that is ‘secure by design’. Technology and devices will be developed with security at the forefront rather than as an afterthought – and secure by design will become the standard, although this trend may not deliver until 2019 or beyond.
In the meantime, we can expect to see increasing attacks on targeted consumer devices with the next generation of AI-powered attacks sophisticated enough to emulate the behaviours of specific users. This might include the ability to craft complex and bespoke phishing campaigns that will successfully fool even the most threat conscious consumer.
InTec BUSINESS SOLUTIONS
So where does inTec Business Solutions fit into this broader picture of emerging ICT trends? At inTec, our objective is to work with SMEs and business leaders (from any number of disciplines) helping them to identify and design technology business models that work. We intend to exploit convergence and the latest ICT innovation opportunities, in order to deliver real value to their organisations – real solutions that work for end-users. Some of the emerging trends which will play a key role in how we do this are:
> Customer Experience IT
Customer Experience IT (CXIT) refers to the IT-related investments required to manage and optimise a customer’s (or citizen’s) experience with an organisation. This is a new concept reflecting the increasing convergence of innovative IT – including mobility, cloud services, big data, security, social media and IoT – into applications and services centred on the customer experience. CXIT is typically implemented through investments made by business managers other than CIOs.
> IT security
Given the increasing dependency of organisations on ICT systems and the growing complexity of connected environments, there is strong demand for and diffusion of software and tools to ensure systems security at all levels. Compliance with new legislation (GDPR) is also putting an increased spotlight on this area.
Looking closely at the implications for ambitious SMEs, two key considerations emerge:
Firstly, high-tech and high-growth SMEs will have similar skill requirements to large enterprises, because customer expectations and requirements will be alike. But they will need to operate on a different scale and with different viewpoints. For example, they will also need to manage relationships in the digital value chain - like their larger counterparts - but will have to do so from a lower vantage point.
And secondly, depending on their size and business model, even the most technologically agile SME is unlikely to need a CIO, as the same skills can be exercised by the business leader themselves alongside a valued (outsourced) IT partner. The challenge however will be to invest (in both time and money) in the training and technologies most likely to have a direct functional impact on the business.
It is this role – of the valued IT partner – that inTec aims to fill.
WHAT’S A COMPUTER?
Of all the trends we can expect to see in coming years, mobility is arguably the one that will have the largest impact on SMEs. Traditional desktop and laptop sales have been outpaced by the rise of tablet and mobile devices over recent years and this development is set to continue. It is telling that the latest advertising campaign from Apple depicts a child on an iPad Pro asking their parent: “what’s a computer?”. Watch the video below.
The IDC – the premier global provider of market intelligence and advisory services for the IT, telecommunications and consumer technology markets – estimates that smartphone and tablet sales will continue to dwarf slumping PC sales by 2.5 to 1. The focus of enterprises had already turned to productivity with mobility even before the inflection point when mobile devices outsold traditional devices.
This brings a significant shift within the market. The installed base of traditional desktop and laptop devices is still required, but all the momentum and attention are diverting to new devices such as smartphones and tablets. This, in turn, brings further change within the support ecosystems as it introduces new operating systems, new refresh rates and the need for different skills – as well as more vendors – to an already complex equation. This makes the support environment more challenging but perhaps only a small price to pay for a more efficient, flexible and mobile workforce.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
Alongside changes in the device market, employee expectations have also significantly transformed over the past few years. Whether they are at home, in the office or on the go, employees now expect to have complete and straightforward access to their work environment. Considering their personal devices are often far superior (and simpler) to those provided by their employer, this adds a lot of pressure on IT departments and CIOs. Perhaps the best proof of this has been the rise of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and application consumerisation within the past few years.
More mobility: more support
Mobility brings a faster pace of change into the ICT infrastructure. Smartphones need to be refreshed every 24 months (at most), whilst traditional desktop devices are usually considered to have a three to four year life-cycle. This requires IT departments to overhaul their existing, often cumbersome processes to ensure swifter change requests and new device roll-outs.
Mobility introduces the ‘multiple device’ era. Smartphones and tablets are not “the” device of choice for most end-users, but rather one of the two or three devices from which they choose to work. For that reason, technologies must remain device agnostic. This in turn places extra pressure on IT departments and suppliers, to support not only a larger number of devices but a larger variety of design interfaces too. And the BYOD trend renders this number almost limitless.
In fact, mobility has significant consequences on ICT support functions: supporting different operating systems and security set-ups. Disaster recovery and compliance are also aspects of mobility which CIOs must take into account. Standardisation is no longer possible and CIOs must focus instead on containment, flexibility and security.
GET AHEAD IN ICT…
Across all of the trends outlined in this paper, there is broad agreement amongst experts that the ICT world is in the midst of a new wave of innovation characterised by the convergence of mobile, telco and IT technologies along with the rise of big data and the new kinds of analytics needed to create value in this environment. Business leaders should ignore these trends at their peril. And SMEs looking to uptake the latest in converged tech solutions should align themselves with a trusted third party that has the expertise and experience to guide their business through this rapidly evolving technological landscape.
inTec BUSINESS SOLUTIONS: IMPROVING BUSINESS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
inTec Business Solutions is disrupting the business technology sector, building a network of Regional Technology Hubs to provide specialist support services and solutions to existing Telecoms partners and their end customers. We are currently looking to expand our network of partners.
Our regional hubs give businesses access to industry experts, offering end-to-end independent technology consultancy – all focused on helping businesses to improve the way they work. These hubs offer solutions that maximise efficiencies and enable business growth, so business leaders can focus on doing what they do best – running their business.