The 2013 ARN ICT Industry Awards were recently launched in Sydney with the annual Judges' Lunch. Intel Asia Pacific director of regional sales and business development, Philip Cronin, spoke to the gathering of industry leaders about change within the IT industry.
In our world, change is constant. I thought I might share a couple of observations I’ve seen in the last two years and what they mean for our industry. There's a lot of us in this industry who have been here for more than 20 years. We came into a time and place when IT was really in its early stages and it was beginning to rise up. If you take it from the person on a computing side, opportunities have moved from software to consulting. The one thing we've lived with through that period has been change, and within change there is tremendous opportunity.
Now, you can see change as a risky kind of thing or you can see it as both an opportunity as well as a movement. Now change within our industry, lately, has been evolving at a rapid pace. And one of my concerns as a practitioner in this industry is that I wonder if we are capable of evolving quickly. And by we, I mean people within this room and this age group. I think we as a group of people and as an industry group have to think about these changing needs. I’m always drawn back to ‘as it revolves rapidly’, whether it’s the Cloud or Big Data or Software-as-a-Service. But where there’s confusion there’s margin.
What that essentially means is that we are part of that confusion and we typically take advantage of that by evolving into the margins, regardless of where we are in the supply chain – distribution to manufacturing to vendors to resellers and support. I think what we are grappling with now is the pace of change; the pace of change within the industry, from our businesses, from the type of thing we do, and the evolution of some key trends that will challenge us.
Four simple examples
So let me highlight what I think are some key ones that we should think about and what they will mean for us in a business sense. And there are four simple examples. Because we, as a large group of people, we cut across many aspects of technology, I tried to find one that resonates within your world. The first one will be analytical software. We are at the beginning of an era of data collection that we don’t yet fully understand. And as data is gathered and collected it does one of two things. It sits on somewhere and it’s as dumb as a box, and does nothing. Or it is analysed and it does something.
As you gather more and more data – if you take the point that some stage there will be 15 or so billion devices on the Internet – all of that data will land somewhere. And from that data you have to make sense of it. So one of the biggest opportunities we will have as business people and entrepreneurs is to figure out how we make sense of this and how do we sell something that makes sense? How do we get rid of that confusion and make a margin? Because right now there’s confusion and there’s margin.
Software and analytics without Big Data is estimated to be worth about $10 billion over the next few years, especially in consulting, in writing software, in developing tools and capabilities. A simple example is that the National Australian Bank is desperately seeking ways to find out from all their data sources, phones, email, Facebook’s, portable data, patterns and sense that they can then turn it into a profit to sell to you and me, and all the large companies should be and will be doing that over time. If we can figure out the secret source of how to get analytic tools and how to get involved in this space, then we get to participate in the $10 billion environment.
In the software development community, there are entire communities in Australia and around the world dedicated to software data application developments of one type or another. What’s transitioning to business apps are communicated through mobile devices for you and I. It’s estimated to be about $5 million industry alone in the mature market. But again, we as a business community we’re not that strong on it. Our industry is, let’s be frank, it’s hardware, a bit of software, it’s a lot of consulting. It’s a little bit mature and my point would be that we’ve got to watch for that maturity.
The last example would be government services. Government services are going digital in many jurisdictions. I get the pleasure of sitting on the New South Wales Advisory Panel to the government of ICT strategy. What comes out of it is a very clear desire from the part of this New South Wales government is to move very quickly to a digital environment providing services to you and I.
New South Wales alone has invested close to $2 billion in moving to a digital environment – that’s datacenters, provisioning, software, etc. I’ll say that’s low. Again, another change that’s happened, whether it’s virtualisation or datacentre, they’re consolidating three premises in there and they’ll open the last of them by September and I’d argue that no one is participating in the largest datacentre in the world. So we missed something there.
So, my point is this, disruptive technologies will drive the market every time. We’ve lived in this industry long enough, we sat through them all. They will always change in the maturity cycle conversely, but slowly.
As our industry gets mature we have to seek ways to change. New channels will start to emerge. Well the good point is there’s no other industry does this change. No other industry does it as quickly as we do, and as well as we do.
The trick of it all is to say flexible. The more flexible we are in what we do in our environment with our companies, with our businesses, and the way we work, the better we will be served. It will bring us back to full circle that where there is confusion there is margin. And I hope that we can all stay flexible, participate in the new margin getting us over the next few years.
The 2013 ARN ICT Industry Awards will be held at a Black Tie gala dinner on Wednesday, September 18, at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.