Getting the most from technology in a post-COVID world

In 2019, the roadmap for enterprise IT investment seemed pretty clear. Every organisation was at least part way along a transformational journey, and budgets were rising as people migrated to a host of next-gen technologies that would make this happen. The pandemic totally distorted and disrupted this comfortable scenario, speeding up some projects as quick fixes were sought for an unanticipated emergency. Other initiatives were rapidly relegated to the side-lines, some no doubt never to be revived.

Now with recovery in our sights, CIOs will be wondering which way to turn. They could hardly be blamed for wanting to wait before committing themselves to a fresh wave of spending. Indeed many seem still somewhat subdued and apprehensive, if the findings of independent research firm GlobalData are anything to go on. They reveal that over 50% of the executives the firm recently questioned still feel ‘very concerned’ about the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on their organisation. That’s not really the basis to put a call through to your local systems integrator.

But for those eager to get back to their transformational journey there are choices to be made. Which technologies are likely to be most critical to successful growth over the coming years? GlobalData identified several major investment areas going forwards which it considers critical: multi-cloud evolution, edge computing and 5G monetization are just three. SD WAN, though hardly a new technology, will also continue to drive how we network data going forward. No conversation about tech in 2021 is going to be complete without a nod to AI, which like SD-WAN, is hardly new but appears to be evolving and moving into a more practical phase than we have seen. Security, alas, will need to be top of the agenda, even for those who don’t have the appetite just at the moment for IT investment. GlobalData’s findings show that 50% of the enterprises it polled plan to spend more on cybersecurity going forwards, with only 20% saying they were going to spend less.

Looking at this longish shopping list, it’s hard not to see multi-cloud evolution as paramount with the other items essentially supportive of that. GlobalData certainly sees significant growth here over the next four or five years. There will still be enterprises reliant on just the one cloud environment, and enjoying the simplicity of that. But most larger organisations are migrating to multi-cloud and looking for technology that will help manage and automate that.

So where will IT spending be expected to make most difference? Management consultancy Deloitte has identified a few areas:

  • Remote work. Supporting transition to a distributed workforce, deploying tools that virtually and securely bring people together in the interests of collaboration.
  • The digital economy. Consumer spending patterns might well have changed forever, requiring digital technologies in areas like e-commerce, telehealth, online learning, contactless payments and other online consumer trends
  • Supply chain enhancements. Supply chains creaked badly during the pandemic, so tech is needed that better protects and manages the supply chains of the future
  • There are skills shortages in key areas all over the world, necessitating that we all automate processes and reduce human involvement

 

These links will further people’s understanding of these topics:

This webcast is highly relevant.

Plus this link to Deloitte.

 

These organisations took part in our discussion:

GlobalData

Alkira

IBM

ServiceNow

Tata Communications

 

Guy Author

By Guy Matthews

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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