By Mpumi Nhlapo, Head: Demand Management at T-Systems SA
As a technology company, we spend a vast amount of our energy on advising our clients, in various sectors, on the ways that they can smartly adopt new technologies, business models and mindsets in order to survive the onslaught of digital disruption.
It seems that almost every industry is in a state of flux – pushed in new directions by the likes of artificial intelligence, high-speed connectivity, scalable Clouds, smart devices, data analytics, distributed ledgers and more. These technologies are certainly no longer buzzwords, or futuristic concepts. They’re having a direct impact on business, right here and now.
But while we may be the ones talking about the impact of digitisation on different industries, the irony is that ICT firms are also navigating their way through a major transition. Traditional ways of providing technology solutions become increasingly irrelevant in the modern era.
In fact, a recent survey* by Russell Reynolds Associates placed technology and telecoms as two of the industries under the biggest threat of disruption (joining financial services, media and retail in the top five).
Cloud commoditises almost everything
ICT companies are being asked to reinvent themselves as a number of different forces converge, whipping away some of their most stable revenue streams – particularly in the realms of ICT services and desktop support.
Perhaps the biggest factor is the commoditisation of IT services, driven by hyperscale datacentre players, which leverage massive Clouds to provide a vast range of enterprise tech services across the globe.
When this is combined with rapid advances in industrial-grade connectivity, local businesses are suddenly able to access new applications, platforms and infrastructure literally at the click of a button.
Local technology firms must adapt with agility – working with these platforms (rather than against them) to migrate complex enterprise applications into these new Cloud environments. From there, the value lies in orchestrating services from various Cloud platforms, giving clients a single point of contact to manage all their Clouds while guiding them on all the compliance, legal, and data security considerations.
Another way to ride the wave of Cloud disruption is to extend and customise Cloud services to suit specific local market needs. With this kind of deep specialisation – into specific verticals and regions across the continent – ICT firms can effectively move up the value chain and become true strategic partners to their clients.
Tomorrow’s winning ICT players will be those that apply exponential technologies to local markets, changing their clients’ businesses for the better.
For instance, our work with other technology partners at a large client demonstrated the possibilities when we combined big data with high-speed connectivity, Cloud platforms, modern ERP solutions, and connected devices. The client now boasts an optimised operational environment, with everything managed by a central control centre, and exciting new innovations (such as drone and sensor technology) ushering in an entirely new era.
But it’s not just about the technology itself. The resourcing model for ICT firms will also shift as we dive further into the digital future. Instead of stacking teams with predominantly permanent staff (often deployed to client sites for extended periods of time), the new model will harness the flexibility of the so-called ‘gig economy’.
Forbes predicts that by 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers, in some capacity or another. “The instant gig economy is moving more towards independent professionals that are using mobile platforms and technology to create ecosystems of work they enjoy,” states the article.
For tech firms, the trick will be to harness the pool of talent (both within the organisation and outside its boundaries), matching key skills for specific projects and needs, composing, rotating and dissolving these ever-changing virtual teams to best serve the client’s needs.
Disruptive technologies are affecting every business, including technology players themselves. It’s only by embarking on ambitious, well-considered transformation strategies that a tech firm can expect to stay relevant over the coming years.