What you do with it

As emerging enterprise-grade technologies become ubiquitous, analysts predict that organisations will increasingly focus on new things to do with them.

Tags: Cloud computingGartner Inc. (www.gartner.com/technology/home.jsp)Huawei Technologies CompanyIBM (www.ibm.com)
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What you do with it Gartner sees enterprises using existing technology to create new value propositions for their customers
By  Tom Paye Published  May 15, 2014

As emerging enterprise-grade technologies become ubiquitous, analysts predict that organisations will increasingly focus on new things to do with them.

Speaking at this year’s Gartner Symposium and IT Expo, John Mahoney, vice president and distinguished analyst at the research firm, proclaimed that the world is now at the beginning of the second half of the Information Age. The first half of any great age is always characterised by the development of new technologies, he explained.

“And that development doesn’t stop in the second half, but what characterises the second half is what you do with the technology,” he said.

“It started in the 1950s with the adoption of large-scale computing by a few corporations. The intervening 60 years have been about making stuff that’s smaller and faster. And it’s not that the technology will stop developing but now we’re in a position where it’s what you do with it — the way that it effects our communities, the way it affects our societies. It’s all that kind of big stuff.”

Certainly, there’s no doubting that technological trends have had wide-ranging impacts on the word, but for the IT leaders present at the event, the effects are far closer to home. Many IT leaders have already worked out how to get the best from their infrastructures, and are instead looking at that next frontier — they want to know how to make their infrastructures provide not only business value, but also competitive business advantages.

“It’s moving from being a broker and an engineer to being an explorer and a pioneer, using technology to develop the genuine frontier of what the business is doing,” Mahoney said of the CIO’s changing role.

The concept applies to individual technologies, too — for example, vendors are now at pains to point out that cloud computing is moving on from simply being another way to deliver enterprise services. According to Christian Klezl, IBM’s vice president for cloud solution sales, organisations are now exploring cloud-based technologies to create entirely new revenue streams.

“Rolls-Royce is now offering cloud-based predictive maintenance on their aircraft engines, where, instead of buying an aircraft engine, companies are basically procuring an aircraft engine by the hour. Connected to that, they get a predictive maintenance package that is going to maintain the engine when it’s required,” he says.

“The the win-win is that it’s huge incremental revenue for Rolls-Royce. And that is a very good example where you’re not just transforming — you’re really putting new business on top.”

Klezl explains that customers are no longer asking him about the architecture, the platform, or how quickly services can be delivered. The technical aspects of cloud are now a given, he said. Instead, customers are now asking about what their competitors are doing with cloud-based technologies, what new services mean for the industry.

The same is becoming true for concepts such as software-defined networking (SDN), according to Ron Raffensperger, CTO for IT solution sales at Huawei. He says that it is now right for network managers to extend the idea of IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) to what he calls network as a service. But to reach that, people need to think differently about SDN, he says.

“SDN is going through a transition. The early thoughts about SDN were kind of about there must be some way to get cheaper switching boxes — let’s move the intelligence out of the edge, put it in some central place, and this will make my CAPEX lower,” he explains.

“I think what people have figured out is that that’s really not the magic of SDN. Yeah, maybe you can reduce the costs but the real issue is around your operating expenses, and the ability to offer new services.”

Reffensperger says that people are now re-evaluating what the real benefits of SDN are, and, just like cloud computing, it seems that there is an appetite to use the technology to create competitive advantage, rather than provision services more efficiently.

The evolution of data security

Looking further into the future, Gartner predicts that perceptions around concepts like data security and privacy will also begin to shift. The thinking is that, as widespread adoption of cloud computing continues to grow, organisations will begin to realise that they simply cannot protect all of the data that they previously considered confidential. What’s more, many might even open up these data sets to the public.

It might sound outlandish now, but Gartner believes that, with organisations increasingly focused on what they can do with technology — rather than developing it — the prediction might very well come true. And naturally, the research firm is not saying that private personal information will be released into the public domain, just as confidential financial data from organisations won’t.

The fact is, though, during the second of the Information Age, there is not telling what organisations might think up in order to get ahead in business. The upshot, however, is that how enterprises attack their infrastructures is becoming ever-more important.

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