What’s in store for next year? IoT, PAAS, security and opex are high on the business technology agenda

Simon Scarrott, Business Development Director at Timico Technology Services, a dedicated, global Managed Service Cloud Provider, identifies some of the key technology trends that Timico are keeping an eye on for next year and beyond.

IoT

The internet of things will be on people's agendas in much the same way that cloud was 10 years ago. For many, they aren't sure what it means for them beyond integrating increasing volumes of IT enabled devices across a blended work/home set of requirements. Typically, users are running with 4.3 devices each; with the potential that all of these devices will, through user recognition, sign-on to multiple devices throughout the working day controlled through permission rights. A management and control nightmare with huge security implications but connectivity is king.   

Cloud was promoted as the end of capacity management, as systems with infinite elasticity simply and automatically responded to demand; translating this demand into rapidly and inexpensively provisioned capacity. With many vendors forecasting a 15 per cent+ hike to cloud pricing as a consequence of Brexit; the elasticity and flexibility argument remains the truest value add from cloud. The IoT has the potential to create vast volumes of data, automatically being transferred or shared between any device connected to the ‘regulated bundle’ of devices. 

This data exchange will be controlled through automation so making sure that what is within each interrelated bundle will be critical to keep traffic at appropriate levels; not least from a security perspective but also from a cost control stand-point.

Drones for all

Things like drones, etc. are on the periphery of what we do and will have specific business uses but companies will emerge who can take the content generated by the drone and do clever things with it (like convert to 3D).   

Drones offer tremendous business potential. For those suppliers like Timico who hold and manage stock for our customers, the ease and speed at which we’ll be able to ship new devices to users in the field will move more customers towards a ‘spares’ rather than ‘fix’ support model. 

The ‘tech courier’ of the past cannot compete with drone technology in getting a new laptop to a user on a tight deadline. Service levels will improve but like many the speed of adoption will need to overcome the layman’s fears of masses of drone flying marginally overhead and the risks this pose to safety. 

It is coming for sure but it will be a slow and managed adoption over the next 5 years. 

PaaS

I'd expect greater emergence in the PaaS arena which provides an end-to-end managed service for specific platforms, i.e. web hosting. The application platform, functionality and agile development are all critical deliverables from these platforms.    

This table is the recognised 10 levels of a Platform offering and differentiates it from Infrastructure as a Service which stops at level 2.

  • Custom code & services
  • Integration with other tools
  • Monitoring & ops
  • Security
  • Teams & Permissions
  • Multisite
  • Troubleshooting tools
  • Automated dev tools
  • Platform & orchestration
  • Infrastructure

Robotic Process Automation

Cost never really comes off the agenda, and Robotic Process Automation potentially offers the most secure route to future savings. Automation is not new, and this is software rather than physical robotics that is most commonly applied to business processes, but there is no reason it can't be applied to technology processes. You just need to look at how many of the advisor community now have RPA as a capability to know that the strategy will convert to realities in the next 12 - 24 months.   

Look to the service portfolios of the major advisory firms and tier 1 IT suppliers and RPA is in there. These organisations, with their multi-million-pound R&D budgets, usually invest 5 – 10 years ahead of mainstream adoption. For me this is one that will get faster traction that normal. It’s been talked about by the evangelists for 5 years, so we’re now hitting the typical timeframe for the early adopters to step in. 

The pioneers are already using and benefitting from RPA. The savings appear real, and the logic for adoption is strong. A robot costs 15 per cent – 25 per cent of the human equivalent, doesn’t need a pay rise, works 24 x 7 and needs less management time. Yes, they’ll need to be maintained and reprogrammed, but that’s a relatively small price to pay for the savings & predictability benefits.

Big data and analytics

Knowing the customer better and presenting them tailored content will remain an industry thrust. Dig Data and/or Data Analytics will sit high on the business agenda and it will need IT to platform this right. Disparate data sources will need to be integrated on common strings to allow for effective analysis. It’s not entirely new, Big Data was the underlying theme when TeraData started selling their huge hierarchical database engines back in the 80s (I bought the 2nd one sold in the UK for the TSB in 1986). 

Notable TeraData don't pitch on hardware anymore but by the market sector that wants to exploit the data (it's akin to PaaS).

Security, it’s paramount

Security will continue to be high on the agenda. It’s been reported that 8 per cent – 13 per cent of the IT's budget will need to be spent on security going forward. Notably it sits up the PaaS list. It plays to natural fears, and regulation isn't easing up.    

PaaS has been around for a while, especially when looking at areas such as web site development and hosting. With things like omni-channel and digital transformation still hot topics on the board’s agenda expect to see increasingly mature PaaS options available for other key business platforms. It fits the opex model that CFOs are increasingly demanding, and allows for consumption based pricing.   

As with so many things now, service and solution integration will be critical skills for IT execs to have in their ranks or to rent from their supply partners. 

Cloud and Opex

Cloud is relatively mainstream now; so, it's the expertise to aggregate and broker a fully flexible hosting solution and present the applications to the user through a single portal that will be important; no matter the source of the application or where the data's held (on-prem, in the cloud, as SaaS, etc.)   

Opex will be key for most in the next 12 - 36 months, so all solutions need to be on a 'pay as go' model. Committing to a one-time capital expenditure (Capex) and a multi-year depreciation schedule is no longer cost-effective, desirable or dynamic enough   

I'm told by the technical folks that owning and renting is now the same cost over a 36-month term. Since the renting model offers flexibility and aligns to the business' consumption needs I see no reason that anyone apart from a supplier would own assets going forward. Organisations no longer need to invest their capital or sweat assets over a three to five-year term to deliver the appropriate ROI. So, with Opex, it’s a ‘win-win’ situation.

Simon Scarrott, Business Development Director, Timico Technology Services
Image source: Shutterstock/Omelchenko