In the current climate, operational efficiency and business agility are more important than ever to support modern business innovation. As global markets combine with competitive pricing pressures to place greater stress on maintaining margins, organisations must seek the efficiencies needed to protect market share.
At the same time, global economic forces are opening up opportunities in new markets and organisations of all sizes are looking to take advantage of the changing economic tide to grow their business. The pressure is now on the CIO and his/her team to drive change and enable this high-growth mode. The challenge for many companies is matching technology investments with the rapidly changing needs of the business.
A solid technology strategy should place the onus on innovation with a purpose and going in to 2017, I see three technology trends that have the power to transform businesses by providing the tools to innovate. These technologies have the potential to be central to business success over the coming years.
- Enabling cloud-driven change
For some organisations, adopting cloud computing services can be a simple, tactical exercise to meet some immediate infrastructure needs. But for those looking to drive real technology transformation, it can be the catalyst to embracing an entirely new strategy for IT.
Up until recently cloud computing has, for the most part, been used to speed up existing individual processes while reducing costs. It is only now, as the cloud journey grows more mature, that we can begin to see its full potential to transform business models and working practices.
The cloud opens up exciting new possibilities for CIOs, COOs and CFOs to think differently about their IT infrastructure. Adoption of cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for example, is on the rise because sharing data quickly and efficiently can dramatically reduce costs and increase the speed of production.
There’s also a growing acceptance that cloud adoption is not just for start-up companies. Large enterprises are transitioning their entire infrastructure and data ecosystems into the cloud because these systems have the advantage of taking the burden of upgrades and management, freeing up valuable resources to focus on innovation and business growth.
- Extracting value from big data and IoT
According to a recent report by Machina Research, the total number of IoT connections are estimated to grow 16% annually over the next 10-year period from 6 billion in 2015 to 27 billion in 2025. Total IoT revenue opportunity is projected to grow to $3 trillion in 2025, up from $750 billion in 2015.
If you talk to customers in the manufacturing and retail sectors for example, they’ll say they’ve been collecting and tracking data on machines, production, and inventory for years. In retail, for example, smart supply chains enable applications for tracking goods and real time information exchange about inventory among suppliers and retailers.
The next step for us, and our customers, is to take the data that is available and analyse it in context, to make better and more efficient business decisions. However, the challenge for ERP systems has been around how to transform the onslaught of unstructured data into practical information.
As technology develops we can expect to see more integration between ERP, big data and predictive analytics because data is the business resource of the future—both in terms of optimising processes and services, and as a basis for innovative business models.
- Mobility drives greater visibility
Mobile and social technologies are enabling new business models and processes but it’s important to remember that mobility can mean many different things to different organisations. For one company, it might be the ability to set up a remote warehouse. For another, it might be the ability to interact and collaborate on social platforms across borders and time zones.
Mobility should be an essential part of the platforms we build as mobile applications provide greater employee visibility and accuracy of information, enabling companies to respond quickly to changing demands with real-time capabilities.
New utilisations of mobile devices and apps are happening every day and drastically changing the way business gets done.
Summary — keeping up the pace of innovation
As companies become more complex and globally dispersed, the need for increased collaboration, visibility and efficiency will continue to accelerate. The world is getting smaller and supply chains are expected to get faster. Having the right technology in place to underpin operations is key to keeping up, regardless of geographic location or industry.
Technology on its own is not a sufficient strategy. But understanding how cloud, big data, social, mobility, analytics and IoT technologies can underpin business models, what we call ‘purposeful innovation’ is central to achieving business growth.