Predictions 2012: Balancing act between cost and investment

IBM NZ clients' focus is on reducing cost, but they must also invest in what is an increasingly globalised market, says managing director Jennifer Moxon

In 2012, businesses should invest in transformation, rather than simply manage cost, writes Jennifer Moxon, managing director for IBM NZ, in her take on the year ahead.

As we head into 2012, we plan to leverage our global capabilities, recognised technology and processes to deliver smarter cities, smarter infrastructure and smarter transportation. We aim to further drive our strategic initiatives in analytics and cloud, and promote improved collaboration across the broader market, because I believe we will need leadership that pulls across systems. We will need stakeholders and experts from across business, government and academia, and all of them will need to move outside their traditional comfort zones.

As New Zealand organisations seek opportunities for growth and transformation and focus their investments following the global recession, it’s vital we develop a reliable pipeline of skills, both locally and globally, that is able to help deliver on a growing number of major business and enterprise transformation projects.

We’re already seeing a tightening in the labour market, as clients look to increase investment in transformation projects. Industry will need graduates with multi-disciplinary skills who are creative, with abilities in problem solving and critical thinking. To achieve this, greater collaboration with tertiary institutions is necessary.

In my discussions with CEOs, I’m hearing that they are placing an increasing emphasis on collaboration and innovative leadership, particularly as a way to drive competitive advantage for an organisation. This may involve increased levels of partnership with other companies or organisations to deliver new levels of productivity, improving internal collaboration, or even collaborating with customers across a product or service life cycle. The increasing use of virtual collaboration tools is also assisting in this trend.

Today information technology is moving out of the back office into the executive suite, and the focus has shifted from technology to information.

Organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to derive value from data and while many CEOs have access to data, and have the capability to derive meaningful insights from this data, they have yet to translate these insights into action. In 2012, the focus will be on using analytics to action these insights - particularly with regard to customer behaviour, market competition or across an organisation’s supply chain.

New Zealand organisations are just starting on the ‘big data’ journey. Companies will continue to work towards better understanding a whole host of internal information that until recently they have not had the tools or capacity to analyse and understand. As smart devices are installed across organisations they will produce huge volumes of data that requires understanding. As the volume, velocity and variety of the information increases smart technologies will be required to automate and process this knowledge and this will drive significant investment in technology to capitalise on the new knowledge.

Social media will continue to play an increasingly significant role in how business engage with their customers and prospective customers. There will be an increasing focus on understanding the content and knowledge within social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, domain specific forums and how this information can be used to understand customer sentiment and product acceptance and drive new revenue channels.

And if we are to follow overseas trends there will be an increase in the number of organisations that have established social media departments to monitor and understand what is being said and then using this information to develop brand loyalty.

* This fortnight Computerworld is featuring a series of opinion pieces by leading ICT professionals in which they look at what's in store for 2012. Tomorrow: Rick Shera, ICT lawyer and partner at Lowndes Jordan.

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