19 December 2013
PA’s David Elton, IT and innovation expert, is interviewed for the FT Connected Business podcast about the future of IT.
In the podcast, David explains that there is now greater opportunity to invest in technology: “The economic outlook is changing and, more importantly, the perceptions of tail risk, both in the Eurozone and more broadly have reduced. People generally accept that there is greater stability in the banking system and this is likely to mean that people in business will take a slightly more bullish view on risk – and that includes investing in IT. The key technology trend over the past few years has actually been towards putting the brakes on investment … we are now seeing that start to lift off a bit. For example, we are seeing a number of our clients invest in new platforms and also in new end-user devices.”
When asked which of the technology trends from the past few years are likely to stick, David responds: “Interestingly, I think the key trend with the clients I’ve worked with has been people – the professionalisation of IT. We’ve seen a lot more focus on project management and IT project management as a discipline, and a lot more focus on business design and architecture. I see many clients talking about standards like TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework), which are a lot more relevant to their business. I think that’s a trend that’s likely to continue. I think the worry around the delivery of IT projects means that professionalising the approach is something that will stick.”
David goes on to consider trends around specific technologies: “Looking at the technologies, I do think cloud has arrived. It has sort of arrived at executive level agendas, but because of the difficulty around mixed estates, where you’ve got a mix of insourced, outsourced and cloud, there is still a view that there’s still quite a lot of risk around cloud, so this is one that’s still to come. What we’re seeing is that the starting place is around development projects, where you can use cloud to spin up an environment for almost nothing and significantly reduce the costs and the lead time on IT development projects.”
Responding to a question about how cloud technology improves agility and innovation, David says: “One of the things we’ve been working on with a particular client is using self-service business intelligence across a cloud application. The client was looking to bring together hundreds of spreadsheets that different people have data in and to combine them across a cloud application to create business intelligence from that data. Cloud offers a lot more potential for self-serve computing, which is something that business developers like and is a source of innovation because the more you put in the hands of the user, the more likely they are to use it.”
When asked how real the ‘cloud-driven enterprise’ is, David explains: “I think big data is a very topical subject. I would approach it less from the data angle and more from the product and service angle. I’d say that increasingly there’s no such thing as a product on its own, it always comes with service, and that’s because the product includes intelligence and information. I think at the core of business you’re seeing an increasing trend towards delivering value-added services alongside the product. There’s almost no service that delivers a pure product anymore; you’ve always got intelligence added into it that drives a lot more information intensive activity inside the business.”
Speaking about a discussion at a recent PA event, David says: “We talked about dynamic QR codes, Google Glass, augmented reality, and wearable healthcare. If you look forward over the next six to ten years anything is possible. In terms of working out which of those technologies are going to change the way we live and work and which are going to simply disappear, it’s a bit hard to call. Clearly trends like mobile and intuitive devices are going to drive a lot of change, as is the embedding of intelligence into every aspect of the product. Look at something like the internet of things; it could well drive a lot of change, because you’ve got products with increasing amounts of intelligence embedded in them, and as they are increasingly connected, it creates more opportunity around them.”
You can listen to the podcast in full here.