Eight Asian ICT predictions for 2008

Linux will gain more ground as an enterprise platform while mobile-commerce will see better adoption across the region, says research house XMG.

This year will see Linux gain a stronger foothold as an enterprise platform in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as steady growth in mobile-commerce, a market report revealed.

In its study released Wednesday, Canadian-based research house XMG gave its top eight predictions and trends that will impact the region in 2008.

1. Minimize risks of investments
Keeping risks to a minimum still tops the list of management priorities. "Risk averse" CIOs are looking to minimize the risks of ICT investments to ensure the returns on risk are maximized.

Other concerns high on the list include measuring and tracing the efficiency and effectiveness of ICT investments to the corporate bottom-line, as well as enhancing the value proposition of IT through effective partnerships with end-users.

2. ITIL to bridge operational maturity gap
Alignment with IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) discipline will become a priority in 2008, as the drive toward operations excellence continues.

However, several Asia-Pacific companies--compared with those in North America and Europe--are still at the "infancy stage" in enhancing their operations through process definitions, performance measurements and process refinement analysis.

According to XMG, companies should not expect considerable savings immediately, but look forward to improved service quality and performance consistency.

3. Global standards to drive business process improvement
Governments and enterprises in several emerging Asia-Pacific countries, such as Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and China, are making their debut in adopting international standards and best practices to improve business process, and participate in the globalization of commerce.

As a result, process modeling and business process management will become critical skills to automate the commerce chain and end-to-end business processes.

4. Mobile-commerce to boost mobile networking
Mobile-commerce (m-commerce) in the Asia-Pacific region will see a "steady" 18.4 percent growth as self-service applications provide significant value to mobile users. Media content and collaboration technologies, the growing social network applications, shopping and a variety of other services are complemented with location-based wireless services providing improved productivity and mobility.

The region's high adoption rate of m-commerce over North America and Europe is "more cultural rather than a technical difference in infrastructure", the analyst company said. It added that strong value for customers, the availability of services, simplicity and secure acceptance of payment, are still the determinants of successful adoption.

5. Stronger growth in SMB expenditure
Small and midsize business (SMB) IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region is estimated to increase by 28 percent this year to reach US$31.2 billion, XMG projected, noting that drivers in the region include India, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam--countries which have a strong domestic market for IT consumption.

6. Linux surges forward as an enterprise platform
Linux is expected to make "major inroads" into the government, enterprise and consumer markets, while "Microsoft's dominance will wane as Vista continues to stagger toward wider adoption", the research house said.

It added that more than 43 percent of large Asia-Pacific companies are "seriously exploring the advantages of open source software", due to the "prohibitive" cost of Microsoft Office products. This is compounded by the high prevalence of software piracy in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, which further propelled the search for alternatives in open source applications, XMG explained.

7. Positive outlook for offshoring and outsourcing
The market share for offshoring and outsourcing in the region is expected to grow by 30.1 percent, driven by sustained growth and requirements for high-quality, low-cost service delivery teams.

The Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, is expected to garner 24.5 percent--or US$86.8 billion--of the global outsourcing revenue share by end-2008. Of this, 70.3 percent are offshore revenues generated by the top five offshoring countries in the region: India, China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

8. Software-as-a-service offers renewed perspective in IT investments
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) will grow as a popular cost-saving alternative to software buyers. The adoption of SaaS in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow 17 percent annually, driven primarily by the "synergistic effects" of SMB demand and provisioning of outsourcing-related services by vendors.

According to XMG, SaaS will continue as a viable outsourcing business model until 2012, and key decision makers in large Asia-Pacific companies that focus on gathering tangible metrics on the demand for IT services will look for alternatives in transforming their ongoing IT expenditures from fix to variable spending.

Lynn Tan is a freelance IT writer based in Singapore.

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