Predictions 2014

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6 January 2014 | 0

The turn of the year is a time for reflection, taking stock and also looking forward. Everyone likes to plan based on the best information available and that sometimes requires a little crystal ball gazing, and educated guess work.

To take the pain out of that process, we have assembled a range of experts in their respective fields to give their insights for 2014 for the ICT industry. While 2013 saw the rise of cloud computing as the default option for many in terms of infrastructure, it also saw the emergence of new offerings such as managed security services, as real alternatives to on-premise options.

This trend will likely accelerate in the coming year as more organisations re-focus their human capital on adding value and providing what only they can — IT services combined with a deep knowledge of the business that can differentiate and confer competitive advantage.

All of this will be facilitated by the next generation of mobility, combined with collaboration tools that are smarter, better integrated and ultimately more productive.

However, the threat landscape has also changed and targeted attacks are still rising, as has been demonstrated by the growing number of breaches reported in the media, both populist and specialised.

When all of this is added to the still developing story of government surveillance programmes in the US and the UK, and the task of ensuring information security is perhaps more taxing than it has ever been. But one thing that is certain is that companies that are seen as failing in protecting the information for which they are responsible risk being labelled as untrustworthy, and that may be their undoing.

 

User experience and productivity drive change
“Administrators need to be able to analyse data sets from their preferred device, and with this evolution, big data will begin feeding into the mobile ecosystem”
Accellion: Paul Steiner, managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa
The workplace has always been at the forefront of technological developments. The office of today is almost unrecognisable to the workplace of 40 years ago. A recent report, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Economic and Business Research, showed that worker productivity is nearly five times higher than it was in the 1970s and could increase by another 22% by 2020. But what does the year ahead hold?

1. Improved User Experience
Enterprise applications must standardise in 2014 to put the user experience first. User expectations today are that all apps will provide the kind of sleek and sophisticated experience that a consumer app does, no matter what kind of security functions or business processes are built into the functionality. As vendors create apps in 2014 they will need to standardise this requirement, or lose market credibility.

2. Next Generation Collaboration
Collaboration will continue to evolve, next with an emphasis on flexible workflows. Currently different types of content creation and editing are not tied into each other, but soon they will have to be. The workflows we have now will be more flexible so that people can do multiple things at the same time, between various devices, so you can transfer a Webex presentation from a laptop to your phone, and be truly connected while on the go. People are looking for flexible workflows, which is really driving BYOD to the next evolution.

3. Security
Solutions today have more hardware defined security, rather than software, for mobile devices. There will be a good mix of encryption for both in the future to make the user experience seamless, while ensuring security. Security will take precedence, but user experience will continue to be sleek and seamless. One example is single sign-on capabilities. More solutions are integrating this feature as people carry mobile devices in more and more places, and need heightened level of encryption and security.Given the recent leaps and bounds of hardware development, such as the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s, there will be hardware security features like sensors that will enable new software development to further strengthen security. With fast-paced development of hardware, software features will accelerate as well to make use of these new solutions, such as hardware-assisted encryption. The fingerprint scanner is one example, where the data is stored in the device, not the cloud.

4. Big Data’s Mobile Growth
Despite the exponential growth in big data and analytics, how companies access and collaborate information is still a challenge. As mobile form factors continues to be pivotal, there will be growth in solutions that process this data to put it in a user friendly mobile format. Administrators need to be able to analyse data sets from their preferred device, and with this evolution, big data will begin feeding into the mobile ecosystem.

 

Data quality and value
“Your ability to change prices, change a marketing campaign on the fly and to re-evaluate your business strategy learning from success and errors will be the key to success for data-driven organisations”
ServiceSource: Mario Faria, chief data officer
Positive return of Big Data Investments: 2013 was the year of experimentation with Big Data initiatives. Companies invested in pilots, proof of concepts and new ideas – some succeeded, some failed. That is what happens when a new concept comes to market but it is those companies who learned from the successful and not-so-successful pilots that will start to show financial benefits as a result. These projects will be deployed in larger scales throughout organisations, partners, customers and suppliers.

Real Time Analytics: The term Big Data will fade way to Analytics. It is not about collecting data and subsequently delivering insights and eventually, actions. You have to capture, analyse and act in real time to stay competitive – If you don’t, your competitor will. The key for every company is to drive to be proactive and not reactive. Your ability to change prices, change a marketing campaign on the fly and to re-evaluate your business strategy learning from success and errors will be the key to success for data-driven organisations in the next year.

C-level calls for Chief Data Officer: A CDO does not own the data, he or she is the caretaker of the data and, importantly an agent of change in helping to establish a data driven culture inside the organisation. From here they are accountable for data strategy, bringing a data management view on how a company can make money using its data assets. The importance of this role is coming to light and in 2014 will be part of the discussions among C-Level and the board of directors.

The year of the wearable computer: The growth of wearable technology such as Fistbit and Nike devices, along with Google Glasses will be part of our daily lives and therefore revolutionise how we interact with and create data – mobile is no longer just smartphones and tablets. This will influence marketing campaigns for retailers, health care providers and consumer goods companies and require a new set of infrastructure to deal with the huge amount of data that will be collected, analysed and acted upon.

Data quality is key to success of Big Data and Analytics initiatives: Data quality is a programme not a project. This means that more and more companies that are serious about data usage, need to look into enterprise data quality initiatives. If your data is not reliable and if your stakeholders don’t trust it, no matter what you do in prescriptive or predictive analytics it will not be able to deliver results. Businesses in 2014 need to realise even more than they do now, that data quality is a money maker that will continuously invest in data quality programmes to succeed.

 

From hype to maturity
“To implement effective buying, merchandise planning and management control the information needs to be collated and presented back to enable good retail decisions”
Real World Retail: Conall Lavery, director
Two big trends in 2013 were mainstream acceptance of cloud computing and the hype around Big Data. We see 2014 as the year where they both come together to offer huge benefits to industry.Big Data has driven the market to produce better data analytics tools. Improvements include in memory data warehouses and the ease to produce insights which are depicted visually which overcome the complexity of the questions posed.The merging of these two technologies mean those organisations with modest budgets can benefit from solutions that were previously only available to those with very high budgets.

Real World Retail provide a decision support system for retailers, we put everything that is important at the fingertips of the retailer in an easy, visual and actionable way. At the push of a button users can get the information they need to make informed decisions to control inventory, increase sales/margins and control costs.Retail generates huge amounts of data from a number of different systems. To implement effective buying, merchandise planning and management control the information needs to be collated and presented back to enable good retail decisions.

Many retailers attempt to do this in-house with little success. The result: too much of the wrong stock, margin erosion, sales opportunities missed, leakage and inefficiencies in labour.The results achieved by RWR’s customers since installation have been dramatic. One retailer with 15 stores effectively put over €730,000 back into their bank account through better management of inventory; the cost of RWR was a fraction of this – a typical payback for a RWR customer. A fashion retailer reduced their mark downs in their first season by 20%.

RWR is a service for retailers with a turnover between €5 million and €100 million. Over 100 pharmacies are using the software through 6 groups, one fashion retailer (Pamela Scott) with 24 stores has recently installed RWR.

RWR has good reference sites in Ireland but was developed for international markets and it launches its product into the UK at RBTE 2014. The UK is one of the most sophisticated retailing markets in the world, yet RWR’s research has identified a very significant need for its solution. The only way to get something approaching the sophistication and value add of RWR’s solution is to engage a business intelligence consulting company and build a bespoke system based on a purpose built data warehouse. This is an expensive way to go as the technology and services can be many hundreds of thousands of euros, which means they are risky. Not so with RWR as there is just a relatively small installation cost and a monthly subscription which can be discontinued if the retailer is not getting the expected payback.

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