VMWorld Europe 2015: Five imperatives for digital business

The highlight of Wednesday's keynote session at VMWorld Europe 2015 was undoubtedly the talk by VMWare's CEO Pat Gelsinger.

The bulk of his speech was centred around the future of digital business as a whole (more on that later), but he started off by outlining the current state of play in the industry.

For example, in terms of mobile connectivity, he believes that half of the world's entire population will be connected by Q3 2019, with the number of connected devices per person doubling to nearly six and the apps industry (which is now more profitable than Hollywood) continuing to thrive.

For online connectivity, 80 per cent of the planet will be connected by 2029 and the internet economy will grow to around $8 trillion. Then came the claim, "my personal goal is that I will work on a piece of technology that connects everybody on the planet," which, going by these number, could very well become a reality.

But let's move on to the good stuff, Gelsinger's five key imperatives for digital business.

1. "Innovate like a startup, deliver like an enterprise."

As we all know, recent years have seen the boom of the tech startup. Agile, noisy, disruptive and ready to make some serious waves. Gelsinger said: "Upstarts can challenge every industry on the planet," which is exactly what the likes of Uber has already done.

Incumbents (i.e. large-scale enterprises) are being threatened at every turn due to technologies such as the internet and cloud computing levelling the playing field for startups in terms of reach and scale. This point was summed up nicely by Eric Pearson, CEO of Intercontinental Hotels Group, who said: It's no longer the big beating the small, it's the fast beating the slow."

2. Embrace the professional era of the cloud

We all know about the power of the cloud and the myriad solution available to businesses of all sizes but, according to Gelsinger, the industry is changing. It is moving from an experimental era - which has seen massive growth and adoption - to an era of professionalism, primarily through the unified hybrid cloud which "is the future for businesses."

The importance of hybrid cloud has been a recurring theme at VMWorld 2015 as it enables business to get rid of silos through having a mixture of public and private clouds and offers invaluable potential for fast growth.

So, if you haven't already, Gelsinger encourages you to jump aboard the hybrid cloud bandwagon before it's too late.

3. Protecting people, apps and data

Despite innovation in the cyber security industry being stronger than ever, Pat said that "security is fundamentally a mess." Companies are spending a lot of money on security solutions but data breaches are still rife, as the almost weekly news reports will testify.

But, virtualisation, he believes, provides the answer, but enabling the alignment of functions to where they are required within the business: People, apps and data. By offering twice the protection for half the cost, "a renaissance in security has begun" which enterprises cannot afford to miss out on.

4. Be prepared for the next wave of innovation

Specifically, artificial intelligence (AI). Ai is fast becoming a growing trend, with great strides being made and the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk contributing to discussions about the industry.

The trend, Gelsinger believes, will be that of proactive technologies rather than reactive. We currently have to ask Siri when we want information, but the world of the future is one where everything is automated and (almost) everything is predicted. He gave the likes of Nest Thermostat and spam filters as rudimentary examples, but the potential is there for all to see with the likes of cloud computing, the Internet of Things and software-defined technology driving developments.

5. The incumbents will disappear

Pat made a rather bold claim in this one, saying that he believes half of the current tech-100 occupants will be gone. We have had a taste of this in recent days with the Dell-EMC merger and the new power of startups means the trend is going to continue.

As Gelsinger said: "Inaction is the greatest risk that businesses face today," so make sure your company doesn't get left behind.