Enterprise Communications


ICT: 10 Years Ago and 10 Years Ahead

by Andrew Milroy 02 Apr 2013
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In June this year, Frost & Sullivan will hold its 2013 APAC ICT awards banquet. This is the tenth such banquet. Frost & Sullivan’s Asia Pacific ‘Best Practices’ program has been running since 2003.
 
This anniversary is a great opportunity for us to reflect on some of the developments in the ICT business over the past 10 years, and to predict some changes over the next 10 years.
 
Frost & Sullivan’s ‘Best Practices’ program uses research to identify firms that demonstrate outstanding performance in particular sectors. Increasingly, companies that are identified as offering best practices in their sector, are demonstrating innovation and the ability to drive markets through this innovation.
 
Making predictions around technology developments is, and always has been, a profoundly challenging task. However, we do believe that some powerful trends, that are currently gaining momentum, will strongly influence our technology experience in 2023.
 
If we go back to 2003, the ‘IPification’ of everything was not yet envisaged. We did not expect telephones to cease to exist. We did not expect voice communications to become just one function that we can use on our preferred devices. We didn’t expect to be carrying powerful IP enabled computing devices in our pockets and handbags. We did not expect to see IP enabled devices being embedded in cars, in consumer good, and in buildings. 
 
The ‘IPification’ of everything is forcing the convergence of ICT, as we know it today, with a whole host of industry specific processes. For example, we are starting to witness manufacturing automation processes converge with IT as IP enabled technology is built into manufacturing activities. This process is creating huge opportunities for innovation as organizations experiment with and test IP enabled technology.
 
So, against this background, what is our vision for 2023? We will focus on aspects of technology change that will be noticeable to ordinary people and are transformative. 
 
# 1 Today’s PC centred model of computing will no longer exist. It was the standard model of computing in 2003 and is currently changing very rapidly. In 2023, we will inhabit a world where businesses and consumers will access IT resources, and conduct the bulk of their interactions from non PC devices. These devices will include home entertainment units (usually described as TVs or games consoles today), in vehicle consoles, wearable devices such as watches, in addition to a range of tablet and smart phone devices.

#2 The focus of the CIO will transform from a focus on the management and optimization of IT assets to a focus on using technology to underpin innovation within the enterprise. In 2003, the CIO was measured on his/her ability to support enterprise goals within an agreed budget. Today, in 2013, the CIO is increasingly involved in enabling change within the organization. In 2023, the CIO will proactively focus on using technology to drive innovation within the enterprise. The IT department that we know today will cease to exist.
 
#3 Leading technology firms will change. New firms will emerge that benefit from this change. One thing is for sure. The companies that dominate today’s technology markets and those which dominated in 2003 are unlikely to remain dominant throughout this technology upheaval. Apple and Facebook will wield a lot less influence in 2023 than they do today. Amazon and Google have better odds.
 
#4 Self service will spread widely across business and other human activity. In 2003, technology driven self service activities were in their infancy. By 2023, supermarkets with check outs will look very old fashioned as self service becomes the typical supermarket experience. Similarly, the entire airline experience will be self service. Printing your own boarding passes and luggage tags will soon be normal. By 2023, the customer will expect a self service experience when dealing with organizations. Apps will take over as the primary form of interaction for customers.
 
#5 IP technology will be embedded across all industries. For example, this change will lead to IP enabled automation across manufacturing activities. In 2003, automation in manufacturing was typically a proprietary activity, and was not integrated with other forms of computing. By 2023, the development of IP enabled automation, together with the development of 3D printing, will allow manufacturing to move closer to the source of demand. As labour becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of manufacturing costs and customization becomes critical, the benefits associated with offshore manufacturing will become negligible. Expect to see an upsurge in manufacturing activity in North America and Western Europe over the next 10 years. 
 
#6 In 2023, companies will typically have agile, cloud-based IT infrastructures. Combined with the ability to analyse and intelligently use vast amounts of data, this IT infrastructure will make it easier for firms to move into new industries. In 2003, enterprises were usually working with a mix of legacy proprietary technology and distributed systems that restricted their agility. In 2013, we are witnessing a rapid transition towards agile, cloud based IT infrastructures. In 2023, we can expect to see more companies use their agile IT infrastructures, their brands and huge amounts of data to enter new industries. For example, both Google and Amazon are already doing this, in the financial services industry as well as many others. Expect to see the re-emergence of the conglomerate. In 2023, companies will differentiate themselves by the way they use technology, the way the use data, and the way they use their brands. 
 
Frost & Sullivan’s research reveals that successful technology firms are factoring these powerful trends into their strategies. We expect that companies which demonstrate best practices in key ICT sectors to continue to perform excellently. Furthermore, we expect them to play a role in shaping and influencing these exciting trends.
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