Socialytics and cloud top ICT trends for 2011

Analyst firm IDC says an improved economy and heightened competition will cause enterprises to utilize IT, especially socialytics and cloud, to stay ahead in the market.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

As the Asian economy sustains its strong growth and recovery from the downturn, so will information and communications technology (ICT), says analyst firm IDC. The healthy economy will also fuel ICT transformation and make it more mainstream.

Claus Mortensen, principal for emerging technology research, practice group, IDC Asia-Pacific, noted that though the region was not as badly affected by the end-2008 financial crisis as the West, ailing economic conditions did impact market dynamics in Asia. Therefore, after the crisis passed, companies across all sectors faced increased competition for their products and services, and he noted that this will continue for the next few years.

The top 10 ICT trends IDC has chosen reflect that it has become more urgent for businesses to carve out unique selling points to differentiate themselves from rivals. Besides socialytics and the move to cloud and virtualization, customer centricity initiatives would also be a priority of CIOs in emerging markets next year, the research house stated in its report.

IDC also forecast that Asian organizations would enjoy another solid year of strong growth, with China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines generating the strongest IT spending rise in 2011.

In a media statement released Tuesday, IDC gave its top 10 ICT predictions expected to have the biggest commercial impact on the markets in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan.

1. Socialytic applications to transform collaboration market
The fusion of social media/collaboration software and traditional business analytics will be a key enterprise application in 2011. IDC said it expects this trend to take place in virtually all kinds of business applications as part of a fundamental transformation in functional structure. It also noted that such applications are now being embedded with unified communications (UC) and social features.

2. Mobilution: mobility leaps into IT
2011 will be the catalyst year for everything going mobile, IDC noted. Tablets like the iPad and large-screen smartphones today are able to run almost fully functional versions of all enterprise software and services. In addition, the shift toward cloud computing means increasingly more IT systems are being delivered in virtualized environments, which reduce the need for device-based computing power.

3. "Less for less" self-service customer centricity
IDC described the concept of "less for less" to mean spending less on service delivery with what appears to end users as a less complex, easy-to-use customer-care environment. In 2011, customer centricity--the adaption of products and services to match market changes--would be the single-most important driver for businesses in finding their own unique differentiators as market competition intensifies over the next three to five years.

Furthermore, IDC explained that with the rising influence of tech-savvy Generation Y in the corporate world, the role of self-service via the Web will become even more significant.

4. CIOs to focus on business analytics
CIOs are viewing technology as an enabler for companies to compete more effectively. Come 2011, they will concentrate mainly on business analytics because of its ability to help analyze market data to make strategic decisions, drive revenue growth and predict future trends.

5. Higher interest in client virtualization
IT consumerization has led C-level executives to want their Apple devices, such as the iPad and iPhone, connected to the corporate infrastructure and to have access to confidential data. This poses a challenge to CIOs who fear the risks involved, such as security. However, client virtualization is one possible solution, IDC suggested. Virtualized sessions not only allow access to enterprise applications regardless of the operating system (OS), CIOs can also be assured that corporate data is secure. That said, IDC does not expect deployment of client virtualization to be widespread until some years later.

6. Increased adoption of private cloud
The uptake of private cloud technologies and services in small and midsize businesses (SMBs) will accelerate in 2011 due to lingering concerns over the security, reliability and performance of the public cloud, said the analyst. Since Asian organizations adopt cloud services as targeted solutions for specific needs rather than a 'rip and replace' fix, an integration of existing apps and cloud apps is critical.

If this integration is lacking, it will be difficult to achieve return on investment (ROI) targets, and siloed apps will again frustrate business users. Nevertheless, IDC noted that integrating apps and services from the cloud with those from an in-house IT environment or another cloud provider can either be a key enabler or inhibitor to enterprise cloud adoption. Another reality check--on whether or not cloud services will gain traction among Asian firms--is contingent on how well a cloud federation is managed by the players involved. This party could comprise cloud infrastructure providers, cloud integrators, and public and virtual private cloud providers.

7. Smart enterprises to adopt catalog-based IT
IDC has predicted that in 2011, more than half of mid to large-size enterprises will build catalog-based ICT. The analyst firm reasoned that a recovering economy and stronger business growth in 2011 will lead to greater user demand for IT resources, and that makes a shorter time to market and instant provisioning of these computing resources extremely important. Businesses in the region will be expected to support ad-hoc requirements almost instantaneously, and IDC said the only way to meet these expectations is to track and provide resources through catalog-based IT.

According to the company's Dynamic IT Benchmark Survey in 2010, 49 percent of 335 respondents across Asia indicated increased self-service IT for business users as one of the their IT strategies.

8. Rise of business-as-a-service (BaaS)
IDC estimated that the BaaS trend will be increasingly important in 2011 because it illustrates the importance and impact on not just the IT space, but the entire business process outsourcing (BPO) space as well. Defined as an offering that focuses on business processes rather than technology replacement, business-as-a-service (BaaS) is where IT and businesses form one entity. CIOs cannot neglect this if they want their corporation to compete aggressively in the 'new normal' Asia-Pacific marketplace.

9. Telecom service providers returning to IT
Telcom providers will not turn away from on-premise private cloud solutions, which will be worth about US$752 million in 2011, and will grow to US$1.8 billion in 2014. IDC explained that the cloud allows telcos to dominate as it has all the inherent advantages, especially the ownership of networks. The analyst firm pointed out that while many organizations prefer to ring-fence their critical workloads and applications within an on-premise private cloud environment, a majority will migrate to a hybrid cloud.

10. Telcos look at cloud computing for operations
Software, hardware and service network equipment providers (NEPs) are beginning to offer their products and technologies as cloud services, but this is not your typical 'one-to-many' cloud model, IDC said. It noted that carriers, after all, are hesitant to share servers with their business rivals. Instead, NEPs are offering their services as hosted private clouds with logical separation of infrastructure between carriers. However, in the near future, IDC predicted that there will be virtually separated cloud infrastructures as carriers become more relaxed with a shared-services concept.

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