IDC: Value is in IT convergence

Businesses looking to differentiate from competitors should look into where trends such as big data and analytics, connected mobile devices and cloud computing intersect to gain competitive value, notes analyst.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--It is at the intersection of three emerging ICT trends that companies can find both direction and differentiation to boost their businesses, an IDC analyst pointed out.

Crawford Del Prete, executive vice president of worldwide research products and chief research officer at IDC, identified three macro-level ICT trends --big data and analytics, connected mobile devices and cloud computing--as vital for businesses' future growth. The analyst was in town for the research firm's Asia-Pacific Directions 2011 conference held here Thursday.

Elaborating, the analyst said that the amount of data consumed is driving the growth of big data and analytics. For instance, 14 petabytes of content were created in 2010 from data-intensive social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Comparatively, data consumption reached 10,003 petabytes during the same time period, Del Prete noted.

Ad traffic and revenue, e-commerce, mobile apps and devices have also contributed to the growth of data, he added.

Del Prete pointed out that as data continues to grow unabated, there is "no reason" why analytics should not be in demand. "Somebody has to analyze [all that] monstrous amount of unstructured data [to create business insight and value]," he said.

Secondly, the increasing adoption for connected mobile devices is another major ICT development to take note of, he noted.

Devices such as smartphones and tablets, which the analyst described as the "changing face of computers", are "just the start". Del Prete said that services, platforms, mobile applications and networks will mature in time to become part of the overall roadmap to improving a business's mobility and productivity.

Cloud computing, which is the third trend, will complement the move toward better business processes and improve collaboration between end-users to boost overall internal IT efficiency, he added.

With these three macro ICT trends in mind, the analyst said it is in the "intersection" of these trends that there is "fertile ground for accelerated growth".

One example Del Prete mentioned was the Coca-Cola Freestyle vending machine, which is designed to allow users to customize their drinks. The sensor data generated from the consumer's choices is, in turn, reported instantly to the soft drink company's product development office where analytics is applied so that it can compile and find out how much a certain flavor sells during a certain time of the day and what specific temperature, he explained.

Coca-Cola's implementation of where the three macro trends converge is a step in the right direction in terms of "capturing value in a connected world", the analyst concluded.

Aligning IT to business needs
Del Prete was not the only one who saw value in meshing up emerging IT trend either. Fellow keynote speaker, Cort Isernhagen, vice president at IDC Insights International, said the transformation, or reengineering, of business processes will take place where IT and processes meet.

He pointed out that technology such as social analytics enables data collection at the point of creation to provide "real-time intelligence" and speed up decision-making. This creates "new business-IT conversations" as compared to traditional ones where it was more a "transaction workflow", he added.

Isernhagen noted the importance of the business-IT conversation, since CIOs and IT heads still face difficulties in aligning IT goals with "business justification". This consequently makes it a challenge for the CIO to articulate and "internally sell" IT investments and expenditure to their non-IT counterparts.

He advised that IT heads need to relook the company's business by processes and workflows, instead of seeing it as siloed, task-oriented departments, to find opportunities to create efficiencies in completing assignments and being competitive with IT.

For example, Isernhagen suggested that IT professionals pitch solutions and investments that consider the needs of the non-IT stakeholders of any particular process and sub-processes, before offering up the technology platforms that would be involved to support the solution.

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