A new survey shows that arming employees with the tools and the ability to work anywhere, anytime is rapidly becoming the key priority for ICT managers.
Decision makers in enterprises big and small are firmly focused on harnessing the cloud and reaping the benefits of a well-managed mobility strategy.
Consequently, ICT budgets are being boosted to invest in the latest platforms, hardware and hosted solutions in a bid to keep pace with advances in technology and allow employees to adapt to work in a fully wired world.
While CEOs and CFOs are moving rapidly to embrace the benefits of mobility, they still harbour concerns about data security.
These are just some of the findings of a major new survey of ICT decision makers in medium and large enterprises aimed at uncovering trends in management thinking as the business technology landscape evolves at breakneck speed.
The survey was commissioned by Vita Enterprise Solutions, and canvassed the opinions of more than 250 key executives in enterprises with an annual ICT spend of more than $75,000 and with workforces ranging from 50 employees to more than 10,000.
Despite a restless global economy, many of those questioned indicate they are tooling up to accommodate expansion, and the new financial year’s budgets have been boosted to reflect the need to invest in the latest technology to remain competitive.
And a vast majority of those surveyed intend to purchase ICT solutions for their business within the next year.
As one respondent said:
“We need to achieve a competitive advantage against adversaries to win the information war.”
What are the trends?
The people in charge of steering their enterprises towards prosperity see cloud, data security and mobility as key trends and do not expect this to change significantly in the near future.
When asked what they believed were the most significant current trends, a majority (19 per cent) indicated the cloud, followed by mobility and security (13 per cent each).
When asked to look ahead, many more respondents took the view that the cloud would dominate trends in the future (31 per cent), and also put security into second spot (17 per cent).
Advances in technology and innovation (9 per cent) came in third, pushing mobility to fourth (8 per cent), presumably because by then mobility would have been adopted by virtually every enterprise.
The comments by decision makers, when asked “What do you perceive are the key trends that will impact the future ICT needs of your business?” are instructive. They paint a picture of the diverse range of pressures facing enterprises as they modernise.
Here’s what several respondents highlighted as key trends:
“Move away from managing data in hardcopy format. Transient clientele requiring service providers to access and manage data in multiple locations.”
“Client demands; continuing need to reduce/contain labour costs; new applications.”
“The impact of cloud computing. Security and regulator issues.”
“Software as a service, platforms as a service and infrastructure as a service.”
What are the challenges?
Budget constraint is by far the biggest issue causing decision makers the most sleepless nights, with 52 per cent singling it out as a major pain point. Second and third on the list probably indicate why.
Disparate or ageing technology (38 per cent of respondents mentioned it) and integration with legacy systems (36 per cent) were the next biggest headaches, which accounts for why ICT managers that need to modernise their operations are frustrated by the need to spend within their means.
Other hurdles identified were risk mitigation, productivity expectations, skill shortages, inefficient communications and the rise of the bring-your-
When analysing the unprompted comments of respondents though, it is clear that security is a popular talking point. Perhaps this is because budget restraint is merely a fact of life.
More decision makers (13 per cent) cited security as their most pressing concern, ahead of the next nearest, human resources and training (11 per cent). But the fact that the figure is comparatively low - almost on par with staffing issues - is encouraging.
Budget constraint (10 per cent) still got a mention, as did systems integration (7 per cent) and cost management (7 per cent).
To illustrate why staffing is such an important issue for managers, consider the following: a recent report by the Australian Computer Society estimated that demand for IT workers would increase by 100,000 over the next six years, while at the same time graduates with ICT qualifications had been dropping steadily since 2000.
Show me the money
On the subject of budgets, half the ICT professionals indicated they were looking forward to a budget increase in FY16, while a third believed theirs would stay the same.
When asked what was driving this budget provisioning, a majority of respondents cited business growth and expansion. Other factors included a requirement to stay competitive and keep pace with demand, and upgrading hardware and software.
For the 17 per cent of ICT managers whose budgets had been cut or remained unchanged, the main reasons were that they had already invested heavily in technology in previous budgets, or their enterprises were going through a period of cost cutting or stabilisation due to a choppy market outlook.
However, even those with tightened purse strings are still looking to invest in ICT solutions, with 88 per cent of all respondents indicating they would be buying in the next 12 months.
Bang for their buck
While many ICT decision makers might have a niggling concern over data security, the case for implementing a mobility managed service (MMS) is too strong to resist, with the potential financial and productivity gains more than outweighing concerns that sensitive data could be compromised.
Mobility Managed Service is too good to resist
An MMS is at the top of the wish list for the majority of respondents (67 per cent) as they consider their next product or service purchase.
A mobility managed service, like the one Vita Enterprise Solutions (in partnership with Telstra) has recently implemented for several government services, involves supplying and configuring hardware, managing spares and repairs, facilitating training and managing warranties and software subscriptions.
A successful solution can generate significant savings and power impressive productivity gains.
Connectivity, cloud-based solutions, collaboration, project management and hardware upgrades are also high on the list of desired outcomes.
The decision to spend
In each phase of the ICT purchasing and implementation process, respondents were required to rate the steps they thought were most relevant to their organisation. Results revealed that most enterprises follow a conventional path, just as they would if putting out a tender for office furniture. This includes identifying a problem, canvassing suppliers and their solutions, and signing a contact.
However, perhaps the most significant finding was that only 27 per cent of respondents rated ICT auditing/readiness assessment as relevant to their organisation. Instead, when an ICT infrastructure problem is identified within the business, the vast majority of ICT professionals define their own business ICT needs.
In other words, ICT professionals are following a procurement process that may not deliver the best fit for their business.
More than just a supplier
Whether it is a mobility strategy or a switch to hosted platforms using cloud technology, the professionalism to deliver a solution on time and within budget is what enterprises are looking for most in their suppliers.
About 60 per cent of respondents rated professionalism as the key attribute they look for in an ICT provider, and it is easy to see why.
A joint study by McKinsey and Oxford University found that half of all significant projects massively blow their budgets. And on average, those projects run 45 per cent over budget and 7 per cent over time.
Other valued supplier attributes include: being customer-focused; creating measurable benefits with minimal disruption; being fast and agile; having a proven track record in project management; keeping ICT managers informed of the latest technology advances; and providing specialist, multi-vendor skills during and after the technology transition.
Respondents also said they disliked being swamped with jargon. They just want clear information about what an ICT solution will do to improve their enterprise’s bottom line and productivity.
Vita Enterprise Solutions prides itself on having all of those attributes.
As part of Vita Group, Australia’s most exciting technology, communications and electronics provider, Vita Enterprise Solutions draws on the insight, expertise and know-how generated from 20 years of servicing the Australian market.
Throughout this time, we’ve built an enviable record of technology and service delivery. Our strong reputation comes from developing in-house expertise and aligning with key technology and telecommunications partners including Telstra and Apple.
We match agile technology outcomes to your business requirements, simplifying the process for you. From providing the right mobility solution, increasing collaboration, transitioning to cloud or the NBN, to providing hardware and accessory solutions, Vita Enterprise Solutions will partner with your business to deliver a personalised and fully integrated end-to-end solution.