Ten years of tech trends that have impacted businesses
Thu 3 Nov 2016
Daren Howell, expert in availability, recovery and continuity at Sungard Availability Services, discusses the key business tech trends of the last decade…
What a difference a decade makes. Who would have thought that a simple baking show would become the highest viewed TV show of the year, or that Take That would make a glorious comeback to dominate the UK charts once again?
This change is most evident when we look at the technological developments experienced by both businesses and consumers; trends that have significantly altered how businesses work and deliver outcomes. In a digital world that never rests, customer expectations have shifted, forcing businesses to consider how a moment’s downtime could have huge ramifications for them both financially, and in terms of reputation.
The mobile revolution has created a customer presumption of constant business availability
Some of these developments would not have even been considered ten years ago. Over the coming years, the only thing to be certain of is more uncertainty, and business leaders can be assured that they will be confronted by disruption of varying provenance.
It’s not even been ten years since the first iPhone hit the shelves, but its arrival in 2007 hailed the start of a dramatic shift in business mobility. Since smartphones (and the tablets that followed) burst onto the scene, businesses have not only benefited from more flexible working conditions, but are also able to dip their toes in the vast pool of talent situated in other geographies and times zones.
However, in addition to this increased versatility and productivity, the mobile revolution has created a customer presumption of constant business availability. As the standard office day of 9-5 fades rapidly into obscurity, businesses are feeling the pressure of needing to be constantly available to customers. Consequently, having the right systems in place to cater to these new demands for round-the-clock access to services and technology is critical.
Head in the clouds
Without a doubt cloud computing has been one of the biggest tech trends of the past decade. As well as helping to enable new business models, thanks to virtualisation and cloud we have also witnessed a significant drop in the number of IT-related business recovery declarations.
The cloud has undoubtedly been transformative for many organisations in the past ten years, and against the precarious backdrop following the 2008 recession, it has facilitated cost reduction, improved flexibility and has not only allowed some businesses to scale up, but facilitated the very existence of others. We can easily observe the positive impact cloud – when deployed correctly – has had in fortifying the resilience, robustness and availability of IT systems, explaining a decrease in technology-based ‘disasters.’
Nonetheless, viewing it as a silver bullet to all business issues is reckless. Our research has found that a lack of skills has led to a number of issues: 43 per cent of UK businesses found that the complexity of their IT estate has actually increased since their initial cloud investment. Whether organisations opt for pure cloud or a more commonplace Hybrid IT scenario, they must ensure their choice is aligned with their business needs.
Nowadays it is becoming increasingly common to be confronted by technological innovation previously only to be found in sci-fi movies. Digital disruption has certainly stepped up a notch in the last few years, with developments such as Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) aiding business intelligence.
Business challenges are growing in complexity just like the IT environments they depend on
However, with the evolution of technology, new threats have emerged that can render businesses entirely unavailable, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and cyber-warfare (of which ransomware is a current favourite). Cyber-attacks and data breaches now occupy the first and second positions respectively in the top ten threat list, and have the capacity to harm a business’ reputation as well as its bank balance. Consequently, business continuity is an essential aspect of identifying and dealing strategically with these threats.
The only certainty is uncertainty
Looking forward, the pace of change is showing no signs of diminishing. Whether it’s having the correct infrastructure in place to facilitate digital transformation, overseeing a transition from legacy environments into cloud, or ensuring a resilient and robust technology strategy, business challenges are growing in complexity just like the IT environments they depend on.
It’s imperative for leaders to comprehend where their businesses are exposed to risk, and leverage the appropriate solutions to deliver the maximum business availability that their customers have come to expect. Businesses should deploy the tools to weaponise their IT in order to deliver competitive advantage, rather than being dragged down by disruption.