Changing face of technology

New trends in technology offer medium-sized businesses huge advantages if handled correctly, says Mark Starkey, managing director of Logicalis, the IT solutions and managed services provider


The relationship between businesses and their IT is changing. The pressure to drive down costs and increase competitiveness following the global financial crisis means that technology is no longer an essential cost centre – increasingly it’s being viewed as a business enabler.

For instance, according to the Logicalis Global CIO Survey, carried out last September, most chief information officers (CIOs) asked want to focus on strategy rather than being bogged down in day-to-day tasks, although many find it difficult to do so. The way to overcome this, they say, is to optimise and streamline existing technology investments.

For nearly half of those we asked, business analytics and intelligence, a significant business enabler, is a first point of focus.

Another area of IT that is presenting businesses with challenges, but also with enormous opportunities, is what IDC calls the “third platform”. This consists of cloud, analytics, mobile and social, and according to IDC, will account for a massive 89 per cent of the growth in IT spending between now and 2018.

So it’s a platform that every company needs to be considering and one that offers medium-sized businesses some of the advantages and capabilities previously only available to larger companies.

Spending on cloud is expected grow by a quarter, reaching more than $100 billion between now and 2018 – and it’s easy to see why. Cloud computing is more cost effective and flexible for growing companies, allowing them to be much more agile in the provisioning of their businesses. We’ve noticed a great uptake recently among medium-sized enterprises for our range of cloud services and similar solutions.

Business analytics and intelligence is changing the way we all do business, but the challenge is to extract useful intelligence from this tidal wave of data. We’re helping a growing number of medium-sized businesses to use these tools to spot trends in their financials, be they areas of waste or new opportunities. Analytics can offer medium-sized enterprises insight into customer behaviour and attitudes that can help to bring them closer to their customers and drive sales.

Nobody needs to be told about the growth of the mobility – just look around you. Whether it’s creating a website appropriate to a mobile device or allowing staff to access company information through their tablets when they’re on the go, we’re working with a growing number of medium-sized enterprises to help them take advantage of the mobility revolution.

Business analytics and intelligence is changing the way we all do business, but the challenge is to extract useful intelligence from this tidal wave of data

Social media has raised the stakes for all organisations. It provides an excellent opportunity for marketing and brand positioning, but it brings with it greater risks, as unhappy customers tweet about their bad, as well as their good, experiences.

Handled correctly, social media can offer medium-sized companies greater leverage and the kind of visibility and exposure to markets that only larger organisations could afford, especially when allied with the insight analytics can offer.

So, where does this massive change leave medium-sized businesses? I believe it’s more important than ever that IT embraces these new disruptive technologies to support the business and ensures they are aligned to the needs of that business. This is why at Logicalis we’re working with our customers on something we call Service Defined Enterprise.

It is a strategic model for how IT can move away from being technology led to be business-services led. This means IT really comes to understand the needs of the business, and can then identify and source the most appropriate technology for those needs. In some cases, it might make sense for the business to build something bespoke in-house or it might mean leveraging a specialist solution from a service provider.

We suggest business leaders in mid-sized organisations consider the second option because many of them are telling us that currently they have to go around, rather than through, their IT departments to deliver these services to the business as they’re finding IT is not agile or flexible enough to deliver.

When it comes to technology, businesses in the medium bracket, just like larger organisations, are on a journey. The so-called third platform is revolutionising the world of IT and the role IT plays within a business. To make the most of the opportunities that it offers and to avoid getting left behind, medium-sized companies need to consult with their IT counterparts to understand where they are on this journey.

They need to ask how does this new technology allow them to offer a better experience? What can it do for improved customer retention? How can it help with managing costs effectively and making investments in the business?

We also discovered that overwhelmingly CIOs want support from dedicated specialists rather than the services arm of a major equipment vendor.

One thing is certain. If technology is not their core business, then medium-sized companies should focus on what they do well and find the right technology partner so they can exploit the advantages of this new technology revolution with agility and flexibility to help them grow.

Logicalis is an international IT solutions and managed services provider with a breadth of knowledge and expertise in communications and collaboration, data centre, cloud services and managed services.

In the UK alone, it employs more than 600 people and almost 3,700 people worldwide, including highly trained service specialists who design, specify, deploy and manage complex ICT infrastructures to meet the needs of customers.

As a group, Logicalis has annualised revenues of $1.6 billion from global operations and is fast establishing itself as one of the leading IT and communications solution integrators and managed services providers, specialising in the areas of advanced technologies and services.