Costa Koutakis
Costa Koutakis Executive Head: Enterprise

As enterprise IT technology trends start to take shape, it forces businesses to re-examine the core of their business models.

Tracking the trends of enterprise IT technology

We are entering an era that’s ruled by data, and harnessing it properly is even more important. Let’s take a closer look at where businesses are in the race to adopt current technology and make it work well for them.

Business transformation is critical and increasingly urgent if businesses want to play an active role in a digital future. As the new year dawns, we will see the continued advancement of key enterprise IT technology. But where do we stand right now in terms of actual adoption?

AI is not integrated into the business

The aim is to implement end-to-end AI solutions because it can lead to a myriad of business benefits such as increased productivity and revenue, lowered risks and costs, and an enhanced customer experience. The reality is that businesses are not focused on implementing end-to-end solutions. IT infrastructures are operating in silos because some businesses don’t have a scalable data infrastructure and smart data layers in place.

To maximise the capabilities of AI in the enterprise environment, businesses need high-quality data and to move from thinking big to thinking deep (creating a select number of information-rich data streams).

South African businesses still have work to do to get to the level of Amazon. The online retail giant has access to huge amounts of data and uses it effectively. Not only is the data being used in advertising algorithms, it’s also being put to use to improve customer service. If a client phones in, the consultant on the other end already has pertinent information about the client on hand and there’s no awkward “what’s your name?” exchange.

Enterprises that harness their data can use it to identify new opportunities. That, in turn, leads to smarter business moves, more efficient operations, higher profits and happier customers.

Enterprises still find themselves relying on legacy systems or being trapped by investments in an antiquated infrastructure. For AI to flourish in South Africa, there must be a long-term vision of the role of AI in the country's economic development. In the same way, China has drafted clear targets for AI development initially by 2020 then going forward to 2030.

Businesses turn to cloud-based services

Companies across Africa such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are allocating more money to cloud computing capabilities. Computing services makes use of servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence over the Internet with the aim to deliver faster innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale. Cloud computing software enables businesses to quickly access and manage their files and resources.

According to a report by World Wide Worx and F5 Networks, 90% of companies in South Africa said they had increased spending on cloud computing in 2017 and 83% said they would increase investments in 2018.

Cloud services are particularly popular in business because you can run applications without needing any major investment in IT infrastructure and skills. Businesses tend to take the step-by-step approach in the use of cloud services. They adopt one or two cloud-based applications or services initially before moving on to try others.

Due to its ease of use and cost-effectiveness, cloud computing is particularly beneficial to organisations that are non-technical or don’t have employee in-house IT specialists. When enterprises hand over control of their cloud computing to a third party provider, they won’t have to worry about installation, security and upgrading.

Software as a Service

“Software as a Service is a burgeoning trend in the market, allowing organisations to utilise capabilities such as WebEx, Salesforce.com and Office 365, giving them time to focus their resources on delivering better infrastructure,” says Gary Middleton , Group Networking Senior Practice Director of Dimension Data. Software as a Service (SaaS) supports routine tasks and frees up resources needed elsewhere, such as building services for clients. SaaS provides value creation through the use of resource sharing, standardisation of processes and centralised data.

SaaS continues to attract interest with businesses because they gain a competitive edge since they are able to provide faster upgrades and patches. Additionally, the SaaS application allows a software implementation project to be started on a pay-as-you-go basis, scaling on business needs.

A number of South African vendors have been delivering their core business systems via SaaS for years already. Using this approach, South African software vendors have delivered some of the most business-critical mainstream applications to their customers, including insurance, pension, medical aid and automotive dealer management systems.

There is no denying it, business strategies are inseparably linked to technology. What was once a “nice to have” is now a “must have”. Leading organisations will rethink the way they engineer their IT departments with the right IT solutions leading the way.

Find out what other technologies are making headlines this year and determine whether your business should be implementing it. Download our e-book below.

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