Gartner’s annual Symposium and ITXpo is currently underway in Cape Town, South Africa. Vice President of Gartner Research, Peter Sondergaard, offered insight into future trends, details on the symposium itself and what businesses can expect as far as issues like broadband and the role of CEOs are concerned.
“This is the first in the series, and the next symposium is in Orlando, Florida. This isn’t a single standing event. The message this year, is to build on what has been told over the last couple of years – which is the forces in Gartner’s Nexus, the integration of cloud, social and mobile integration,” Sondergaard said.
Highlighting future trends, Sondergaard said that much of the focus will be on what the consumer wants and needs. “The driver this year is the consumer, and it needs to be a seamless flow from personal apps to corporate apps, and the capability to be in a fixed environment that is mobile. It’s all about moving from a private network to a closed corporate network with ease.”
While the consumer plays a large role, Sondergaard said that technology is as much of a driver in the industry.
“Tech is driven by the desire to live our lives the way we want to. We are fusing the world from what consumers want to what is being offered. In 2009 around 2.5-billion things were connected to the internet. We are predicting that the number will be fifteen-to-thirty billion by 2020. And here we are talking only about devices that have a unique IP address. The number of multiple devices on networks will be even greater.”
But as the number of devices connected to the internet and networks increase, so too do the problems that plague the industry today. Sondergaard said that this poses a crisis in IT leadership – not only in South Africa, but abroad as well.
“As a result of the financial crisis in 2009, CEOs demonstrated the value in technology driving a business. We are seeing a larger number of CEOs demanding more of IT today than what they previously received.”
With that Sondergaard added that companies need to establish roles that will solely focus on driving consumerisation in a business. “Those roles that are business focused are set to triple in the next couple of years – hence the crisis. These roles are about being evangelists for the change – and as technology evolves, this is a role that will disappear again. But technology and vendor management will become a valued skill set.”
In terms of the technology market and its growth, Gartner said they have seen a steady increase in certain areas, while the PC market has shrunk somewhat.
“We do see the market for tech flowing at a decent pace. The overall market for Q2 saw growth of 3.5% in Constant Dollars. Globally, the device market has slowed rapidly with a massive decline in PCs, and many markets consumers started to delay purchases of mobile phones. You’ll see operators trying to get people to change their phones more regularly. There was also a slight decline in slowing of infrastructure market such as servers.”
However, Sondergaard noted that globally, growth was at about 6.4% for software. Service remains a critical growth area with over $1-trillion spent on IT services.
In addition, Africa is a continent with a lust for self-reliance and it has the ability to create new businesses. Gartner believes that start-ups are actually a threat for established businesses – which, it says, is not a bad thing.
“The most interesting thing that we have seen is an acceleration of start-ups that is actually threatening established business. We have seen this from data systems to software players and even software manufacturers for handsets. There was a tendency towards consolidation in the market a couple of years ago, but about two years ago, start-ups began eating into the established business.”
In closing, it was commented that South Africa is not as far behind the rest of the world as some perceive it to be.
“South African large organisations aren’t that far behind other large organisations across the world,” said Sondergaard.
He also referred to the emergence of a new executive role in business. “In the last 12 months, we have seen the rise of the Chief Digital Officer. They are often a recast title, such as a Marketing officer and generally their focus will be on marketing, and won’t have the responsibility for digitalisation.”
Sondergaard is of the belief that innovation will come from places that we do not yet know about. He mentions the service robots space which has been replacing redundant or dangerous human vacancies.
Turning the conversation to Microsoft’s recent offer to purchase mobile handset manufacturer Nokia’s Devices and Services division, Gartner believes that they are now better placed to gain more market share – but still will not be able to compete with the big players such as Samsung and Apple.
“Microsoft now has a better chance of succeeding by acquiring Nokia’s Device and Service. But we don’t believe Microsoft will get more than 20% in market share. For them, it’s going to be a significant challenge to attract the consumer,” Sondergaard concluded.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor