By: Larry Foster
Today’s information and communication (ICT) manager knows the days of purchasing and managing a PBX system through a ten-to-twelve-year obsolescence lifecycle are gone. Instead these managers are facing massive changes in technologies and trends that require a fresh perspective to address it all. The macro trends they face include transformations in communication technologies, omnipresent digital services, changing government mandates and growth of consumption-based economic business models. To succeed, ICT managers must be aware of these factors and agile to respond strategically. These factors have made it necessary to approach strategic planning as more of a continuous process instead of an isolated event once or twice a year. Today’s ICT managers have to stay on their toes.
We have identified six key influences that affect the ICT industry. By understanding their impact, we hope to better equip ICT managers to more effectively manage short and long-term strategic planning. Their roles must move from reacting, sustaining and surviving to instead, evolve their ICT business services into a recognized key strategic enabler for their organization.
Here’s a high-level overview of each of these influences:
1. Mobile 5G
Promising to be a quantum leap in mobile broadband, the evolution to 5G is one factor spurring the advancements in ICT by creating ubiquitous terrestrial broadband infrastructure. The networks will be built around a combination of technologies including 2G, 3G, LTE, LTE-A, Wi-Fi and M2M and will support a variety of applications such as the IoT, connected wearables, augmented reality and immersive gaming.
We are just starting to see the emergence of many new 5G-enabled applications in transportation with driverless cars as well as remote operations in healthcare. ICT Managers need to stay on top of this and start strategizing ideas with their customers for new services that may be enabled by 5G technologies.
ICT managers will benefit most from the Internet of Things (IoT) by not thinking about the physical technology, but rather how they can personalize their customer’s user experience. IoT can help organizations incorporate intelligence to an existing “dumb device”, connecting an intelligent device to a network and potentially provide a transformational service that is created from an intelligent networked device. The options are endless.
A good example of the transformational power of IoT is when Apple incorporated network capabilities and intelligence into a legacy MP3 player dumb-device known as the iPod to create the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone then became a portal to access and consume all sorts of content anywhere and anytime. The real value of this new intelligent device came from the proliferation of cloud services such as the iTunes Store, digital music stations, YouTube and over two million applications now available.
3. Web RTC with Unified Communication & Collaboration
Even though VoIP has been around for almost two decades, it’s only recently that seamless unified communication experience for all data streams (voice, video, IM, Email, Conferencing through Web RTC (Web Real Time Communication)) is enabling new integrations that are dramatically transforming the user experience. WebRTC is transforming the idea of purchasing a limited hardware based telecom system into the idea of investing in creating your organization’s personalized telecommunication-enabled cloud API-based service platform.
WebRTC allows real-time communications to have purpose and be contact and context specific. It also allows real-time data to be integrated quickly into applications and websites. This technology enables new applications that are suitable for devices in IOT, telecom services, television and general ICT services.
4. Cloudification of ICT Services
ICT management needs to embrace the shift from owning and managing premise-based technology services to operating as a technology broker on behalf of their customers. Migration to cloud represents a sea change in the way services are acquired, implemented, managed and invoiced. ICT organizations that fail to get out in the forefront are finding themselves mitigating the unplanned financial implications and security vulnerabilities resulting from disorganized “Shadow IT” operations.
5. Governmental Driven Changes – FCC 2020 All-IP Network & Net Neutrality
There are two key federal government initiatives that play a critical role in this ICT revolution – FCC 2020 and Net Neutrality. The FCC 2020 Ruling sets the requirements and date to replace all legacy TDM voice services with universal digital IP networks. Every commercial telecommunication provider has been working on their transition for several years. Enterprise ICT managers need to be executing their respective portions of this transition to ensure they are prepared.
Regarding the FCC 2015 ruling on Net Neutrality, the current administration has signaled its strong disagreement with it and will most likely embrace a more free-market approach to managing Internet access. This will usher in a new era of managing quality and throughput of digital services by data stream – voice, video, IM, FTP, Email, HTTP, etc.
6. Evolving Business Models from CapEX to Consumption-Based OpEX
We are seeing a transition from traditional capex/premise-based procurements to more pay-as-you-consume based or cloud-based services. Historically ICT managers weren’t as concerned about the actual usage because the capitalization of the network service was independent but now monitoring real time consumption of services and timely repurposing of unused subscriptions have a direct impact on budgets. Paradoxically, the shift to outsource ICT services will create a greater need for ICT managers to implement more detailed and intuitive line-item cost accountability.
In conclusion, the current business transformations have created seismic power shifts and new roles for ICT organizations. ICT is no longer just about managing telecom networks, devices and software, but rather about facilitating an ever-growing spectrum of digital services for knowledge workers. Because ICT digital services encompass the full spectrum of services enabled by Mobile, IoT, UCC and Cloud, ICT executives need to formulate a new strategic brand by recognizing that providing a service means delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes that their customers want without the ownership of specific costs and risks.
To read more, please download our whitepaper, 6 Key Influences Affecting Communications Technology.