IT needs to think and act quickly

Written by Avinash Vashistha | Updated: Jan 14 2013, 08:19am hrs
As we embrace 2013, IT landscape in India finds itself operating in a complex business scenario that demands it to think and act not only differently but also quickly. IT is increasingly expected to deliver differentiated output at extremely competitive prices, while also assuming a stake in the success of the business. With governments and medium sized companies steadily becoming a part of its client base, large IT companies have to arrive at a delicate balance of designing customised offerings, which can be quickly industrialised at very optimal costs.

Moreover, with CIOs being taken more seriously as key actors in companys competitive differentiation strategy and IT being identified as a tool to achieve inclusive growth, the IT industry stares at a transformative opportunity. Probably for the first time in the Indian context, the IT industry has a real chance to change its role from being treated as a mere vendor into a strategic partner by businesses and governments alike.

In this article, I present my views on the substantive trends to be witnessed in some of the key areas in which will be critical to shape this transformative opportunity. These are also the areas in which players, large and small, have invested over the last few years to develop capabilities.

In 2013, we will see reformulations and innovations in the space of analytics, services platforms, data architecture, cloud computing, mobility and biometrics helping companies and governments harness the power of IT, data and mobility to achieve their respective goals of profitability and inclusive growth.

Let us begin with the field of analytics. Analytics as a service (AaaS) will make headlines over the next year. Services analysing repositories of data using new generation statistical tools exploiting advances in hardware capabilities will be seen gaining currency. AaaS uncovering sub-terranian trends which would have otherwise remained hidden due to the use of low-level analytics will become a preferred choice within teams keen take more commercially appropriate business intelligence to corporate boardrooms. Key verticals who will be adopting AaaS are the banking, financial services, insurance, healthcare, and retail sectors utilising it for risk management, financial analytics, and customer behavior patterns, among others.

Predictive analytics, already at play in areas including banking (credit scoring), marketing (predictive pricing) and others, will attain maturity through its growing applications across a larger set of sectors. Growing use of social media platforms will lead to the increasing utilisation of social analytics by companies seeking relevance and meaningful customer engagement.

Platform-based services defined as hosted technology services delivered on a pay-as-you-use model are expected to gain popularity in a cash-tight business environment. Platform-based service delivery offerings will provide IT companies with an alternative route to increasing revenue per employee and achieving non-linear revenue trajectories.

The business imperative to generate better margins and mitigate costs in a challenging economic environment will compel many organisations into enhancing efficiency of their back office functions such as HR, finance & accounting etc. Big data residing within each of these verticals will need to be processed quicker and more efficiently to arrive at robust commercial decisions. Hence, companies will start investing in big data architectures that will help them manage large unstructured data better and arrive at decisions faster. With the worlds of structured and unstructured data rapidly converging, IT practitioners will be searching for ways to constructively manage the convergence to enable all forms of data management to coexist. Hence, bridge technologies will emerge, mixing new and old database forms.

We expect cloud computing and mobile devices to pave the way to provide and scale e-services and delivering information to people and organisations in every walk of life. Inexpensive and accessible software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, running on cloud hardware, provided by infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers and built with the help of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, will bring a myriad of applications, services and information to Indian businesses.

Over the last two years, the government sector has started to set the stage for unleashing the power of the cloud in the space of governance. The department of information technology has begun implementing the national e-governance plan (NeGP), both at central and state levels. Storage area networks, data centres, and state wide area networks have been established in all states and Union territories. We have therefore reached a stage where government data centres combined with a networked infrastructure across the nation could merge into a cloud. We could witness the computational resources and the applications that run on top of them to be provisioned to remote national locations.

Streams of new experiments leveraging cloud, mobility and social networking to transfer skills to millions of youth in a scalable manner are expected to start making headlines. Training packs for a variety of skill sets stored on the cloud could start getting linked to popular social networking sites. Once downloaded on an employees mobile device at a particular price point, a beneficiary will be in a position to conveniently access the training material anytime and anywhere.

Biometrics are unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, that can be used for automated recognition. Biometrics has become a basis for delivering a number of scalable initiatives, which can be integrated with the Unique Identification Programme. 2013 will usher in a number of innovative biometric-based solutions not only delivering scalable education and healthcare but will also facilitate management and tracking services and payments through collaboration with banks for Indias unorganised workforce.

Overall, 2013 promises to be a transformative yeara year in which IT will have an opportunity to grow into a strategic national asset.

The writer is chairman and managing director, Accenture India