In a recent study by Tech Research Asia for NetApp, 468 business and IT leaders across Australia and New Zealand were asked what "megatrends" they thought would be the most disruptive to their businesses in the long run. While these trends do bring challenges for government and private organisations, they present a wealth of opportunities as well, especially for the IT industry.
Businessman with binoculars picture from Shutterstock
"Technology has a great role to play in mitigating the downside of some of these trends, so there are a lot of opportunities for businesses," Trevor Clarke, Tech Research Asia partner and lead analyst, told Lifehacker Australia. "It could be anything from providing traditional IT service to providing cloud services and data management. There are a lot of opportunities for IT organisations to tackle these trends."
Here's are the trends along with the amount of survey respondents that selected it as the most disruptive to their organisations:
#1 Economic change (46 per cent of CIOs and 49.6 per cent of CxOs)
No surprises here given that economic factors do affect IT budgets. The global financial crisis in 2009 saw companies cutting budget left right and centre with IT bearing the brunt of it. While it's easy to cut IT budgets, organisations need to remember that regardless of economic conditions, IT requirements from businesses and workers do not change. Users will still need IT equipment and services to work to maintain productivity. Companies often rely on technology to give them a competitive edge.
According to Gartner's Worldwide IT Spending Forecast for 2015, IT spending will be down and is currently projected to grow by only 2.5 per cent. The rising US dollar is making procurement of technology goods and services more expensive in Australia which will have an impact on enterprise spending. Organisations need to avoid mindlessly cutting IT spending left, right and centre and take a more strategic approach if they do want to bring IT costs down.
#2 Technology innovation and the internet (44 per cent of CIOs and 47 per cent of CxOs)
Technological innovation is happening at a rapid rate, especially in the enterprise space. Cloud computing, data analytics and machine learning are allowing organisations big and small to have access to technology at a lower cost and to extract valuable insights from data they already have to help make better business decisions and drive revenue growth.
There is one caveat to all these advancements in technology: organisations are struggling to find people that can make the most of it. Around 30 per cent of business and IT managers can't find people with the right skills to analyse their data. Australia continues to suffer from an IT skills shortage, especially in areas of big data analytics which is holding a lot of projects back in Australia.
Earlier this year, we ran a piece on the hardest IT roles to fill for Australian employers, illustrating where there is a dearth of talent.
#3 Changing consumer expectations and behaviours (32.5 per cent of CIOs and 40 per cent of CxOs)
Satisfying customer needs is important for every business and their requirements have changed significantly from a decade ago. These days, consumers are spoilt by choice and access to goods and services quickly. This puts a lot of pressure on companies to deliver the best experience to customers. It is now expected that organisations have a adequate online and social media presence to interact with customers on the fly.
This is also where data analytics can come into play, providing customer insights that will help businesses make decisions on how to reach out to consumers in a targetted fashion.
#4 Population growth (31 per cent of CIOs and 30 per cent of CxOs)
Australia's population is on the rise partly thanks to immigration. While this brings headaches for the government to provide adequate infrastructure and better urban planning to support a surge in population, private organisations now have more potential customers to make money off. Technology makes delivery of certain services a whole lot easier.
Just think about the online food delivery services companies that have cropped up that lets customers order food with just a few simple clicks. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see a load of these digital businesses cropping up in the future to make the most of our swelling population.
#5 Ageing population (18 per cent of CIOs and 26.5 per cent of CxOs)
According to a Productivity Commission report, Australia's ageing population (people aged over 75) is expected to rise by four million and make up 14.4 per cent of the overall population by 2060. The reality is, these people will need to be taken care of so there's a need for the public and private sector to provide better healthcare and life assistance services.
Technology companies are already working to meet the challenges that an ageing population will bring head on. In July, IBM hosted a Health Hackathon in Melbourne to bring together clinicians, software developers, hardware engineers and entrepreneurs to create technology solutions for aged healthcare. “The event is the perfect intersection of disruptive, innovative thinking combined with human-centred insights to help improve the quality of life for the elderly, Annette Hicks, IBM ANZ health industry lead, said in a statement. “...Our Health team is looking at how technology can enable people to live active and engage lives in their own homes for longer."
How do you think these megatrends will impact your organisation? Let us know in the comments.