SINGAPORE--Integration of social-based analytic tools and identifying ways to leverage an increasingly mobile workforce are two game-changers that companies can employ to grow their business in the Asia-Pacific region, according to an industry analyst.
Sandra Ng, group vice president and head of practice group for IDC Asia-Pacific, noted that while CIOs are receiving a 10 to 15 percent boost in their IT budgets this year and next, they are expected to support business growth of over 30 percent. This pressing need to maximize their expenditure means IT heads will need to identify and utilize ways to "spend less for less complexity", said the analyst during a presentation at the Infocomm Industry Forum here Thursday.
Ng noted that this does not mean companies should stop spending on their IT systems. Instead, they should focus on investments that help reduce overall business operational complexities throughout the organization, she said.
To help decision makers, Ng highlighted two game-changers she coined "socialytics and mobilution", which will become increasingly relevant in this region over the next five years.
She described socialytics as a platform that combines four areas: enterprise apps, unified communications and collaboration tools, social media, and business intelligence or analytics.
Ng pointed to a combination of customer relationship management (CRM) tools and social media as a good example of what socialytic apps are and can accomplish. She cited the example of Salesforce.com's Chatter software as one that optimizes elements of CRM, analytics, social media and collaboration in a single product.
This, in turn, will enhance organization-wide collaboration and boost interaction and productivity, the IDC analyst said.
Mobilution, on the other hand, describes the growing trend where mobile devices including smartphones and slates such as Apple's iPad are becoming today's desktops, Ng said.
She noted that by 2015, more than 550 million people in Asia-Pacific alone will become mobile Internet users. This statistic reinforces her view that the world is changing into a "mobile everywhere" society.
Companies, therefore, need to capitalize on this trend by putting into place workflows and business processes that cater to a workforce that expect to interact with their work from mobile devices anytime, anywhere.
Ng said: "The oldest Generation Y employee, who is born in 1980, will have hit 30 years old this year and many will have entered into middle-management positions in their organizations." As such, she noted that this group of employees will be the ones ushering in more flexible work processes and customer-oriented policies to better navigate today's business environment.
Apps to lead mobile revolution
Tan Yen Yen, chairman of Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), highlighted another aspect of mobilution. Also a speaker at the forum, Tan said beyond hardware and software considerations, it is the apps model that is driving the mobile computing revolution.
She noted that while Web-based content makes up less than a quarter of Internet traffic, app-based traffic--driven by programs such as e-mail, Skype calls, online games and movie streaming--has spiked.
"[Today,] large software suites have given way to app stores delivering an unprecedented range of applications into the hands of end-users," she added.
Jeanne Harris, Accenture's executive research fellow, agreed that the Generation Y demographic will provide new thought leadership, particularly in the area of using data to relook entrenched business practices that no longer work.
Harris, who also spoke at the forum, said this new breed of business leaders is one of the factors contributing to the rise of analytics in the enterprise today. Other drivers include growing financial oversight, the need to adhere to risk-management regulations as well as the increasing importance of customer-centric policies within companies, she added.
However, she cautioned against a one-off use of analytics to solve a particular business problem. Harris said such use of business analytics will not result in long-term benefits.
"Embedding analytics into core business processes, [on the other hand,] creates sustainable competitive advantages," she noted. As an example of this business model, she cited U.S.-based video streaming site, Netflix, which deploys a proprietary algorithm at the core of its business that matches subscribers with movies and TV programs that would appeal to them, while optimizing on the company's inventory.