IT organisations today face a new challenge, in that many traditional products and services are rapidly becoming commoditised. Whether we’re talking infrastructure, enterprise solutions, hosting or a range of other services, what used to be considered specialist areas within the industry are now becoming simple commodities.
According to Jonas Bogoshi, CEO at BCX, although the normal maturation curve for IT products and services plays a role in this commoditisation, the speed at which this is happening is more rapid. He suggests it is, at least in part, because the buying behaviour of corporations has changed.
“Increasingly, enterprises consider it more important to invest in systems of insight and engagement. They want to engage customers, gather data to understand consumption and use this data to create new products and services. This, in turn, means they seek assistance to optimise these systems and enable them to access these at the lowest possible price point,” he says.
“Optimisation and low cost go hand-in-hand with the need for automation. This has, inevitably, led to an increasing demand for systems integrators to automate the provisioning of IT services.”
He adds that although commoditisation is occurring, digital transformation is concurrently driving an acceleration in the development of new skills. These particular skills are seen as key requirements for customers, who are now investing more of their budget in areas like AI, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Bogoshi suggests that companies in this sector should be looking to invest in their own intellectual property (IP), as deep industry knowledge is becoming a key asset. “Of course, it’s still not possible to have all the IP a company requires, which is why we recommend putting in place an ecosystem of partners, both locally and internationally.
“In addition, it is vital that the ICT industry develop leaders who are able to understand this new, digital world and direct the organisation accordingly. Without a clear grasp on the productivity and customer service benefits the latest technologies deliver, it will be nearly impossible to leverage these to their fullest extent.
“IT organisations obviously have a fascination with technology, but often this fascination leads to them recommending technology for its own sake. It’s important any technology adopted by a customer is implemented to help them solve their business problems,” continues Bogoshi.
He notes that although BCX recommends the cloud as a key technology in which to invest, many enterprise customers still have inflexible and siloed infrastructure. This is difficult to effectively leverage and costly to maintain which, in turn, constrains their flexibility and impedes their speed to market.
Looking slightly further down the line, quantum computing is going to change the world.
Jonas Bogoshi, BCX
With their existing environments unable to offer an end-to-end view of their own customers, operations or supply chain, it’s no wonder so many are considering the cloud.
“Thus, the move to the cloud is driven not only by economics, but by better visibility and the option to move to a hybrid or multicloud scenario – where some workloads are hosted in their own datacentre, some in the BCX datacentre, for example, and still others in the public clouds offered by the hyperscalers.
“As a systems integrator, one of the strongest areas of growth we’ve seen is in the demand for remote monitoring solutions. Using IoT sensors, it becomes a simple task to manage buildings, offices or other assets,” says Bogoshi.
An example of the IoT work BCX does, he continues, is its efforts with large oil and gas entities. The company uses IoT sensors to monitor hundreds of kilometres of pipeline, managing pressure and flow, monitoring consumption and providing security.
“Another key area of focus in the digital world is that of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI. While there are real concerns about RPA replacing people and eliminating jobs – and as far as machine-to-machine communication goes RPA will do exactly that – these are jobs that should not really be done by people anyway. After all, using people to capture transactions between systems is not only far more time-consuming and inefficient, but it also opens the process up to human error.
“The value of RPA in taking over repetitive functions, freeing up employees for more complex tasks and significantly reducing errors should never be underestimated. We have a large customer with a legacy billing system that took days to reconcile and still ended up with a 20% to 30% error rate.”
He says the implementation of a single RPA solution enabled the customer to reconcile, in just one hour, what took humans up to five days to do. Moreover, there were no recorded errors either.
Asked what other technologies are on the BCX radar, he suggests that cryptocurrencies get a lot of attention in this respect, but that for BCX, it’s the underlying blockchain technology that is the real interest.
“Blockchain deals with non-repudiation, which is crucial in a world where there are thousands of IoT sensors out there. It becomes increasingly difficult to be sure that the data received from a particular sensor belongs to a specific organisation or individual. Data can come from anywhere, so the non-fungible tokens in blockchain are able to ensure that the data you are using is valid, genuine and comes from where it was supposed to come from.”
He adds that augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) offerings are also taking off, most likely because the Covid-19 pandemic has supercharged all things virtual. Bogoshi anticipates that AR/VR technologies will truly find their niche in industries like retail, and adds that the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital shopping by around five years.
“We’re witnessing a shift towards the ‘try before you buy’ principle, where consumers can, for example, virtually position an item of furniture they wish to purchase in their home, to see how it will look. The same goes for trying on clothing virtually – while this was only a ‘nice to have’ in the recent past, it’s becoming essential as the world itself becomes increasingly virtual.
“I think, however, that the most important investment we’ve made, in terms of these new technologies, is our AI operations, which combine automation with IT Service Management (ITSM). In this way, we’re able to reduce the time to identify problems. An automated system, with a clear and singular purpose, will always discover a problem far more rapidly, and the nature of AI is such that it can also help to determine the root cause of the issue faster, meaning the challenge can be ameliorated more rapidly. AI sits at the core of our ITSM, governing everything from the routing of tickets to the identifying, categorising and prioritising of issues.”
And what does he see being the most critical technologies in the near future?
Bogoshi indicates that there are three technologies that will be important. The first of these is 5G and WiFi 6.0, because the speed that 5G offers makes it perfect for industrial applications like mining safety and processes, or the monitoring of logistics.
“The second area that forward thinkers must take into consideration is edge computing. As 5G becomes a reality, so edge computing will also start to come to the fore and further speed up processing and decision-making.
“Finally, looking slightly further down the line, quantum computing is going to change the world. After all, quantum mechanics have played a role in many recent innovations like GPS, lasers and smartphones, and now quantum computing will be able to assist in situations where there are an enormous number of variables that can change over time. I believe that it will ultimately be beneficial to industries across the board, from healthcare to retail to manufacturing and beyond,” he says.
* This feature was first published in the May edition of ITWeb’s Brainstorm magazine.
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