The evolution of IT has not only accelerated throughout the past decade, but it has also impacted a wider range of businesses in that time. Firms can no longer drag their feet with important deployments and technology investments and still expect to compete at the highest levels of their respective marketplaces. Rather, early adopters and those that maintain maximum agility are likely to surpass their competitors smoothly and consistently thanks to the power of modern solutions.
Cloud computing has been at the center of digital transformations since it first began to hit the market. One could easily make the argument that none of the most exciting trends in corporate computing and IT would have been possible without cloud services, or at least as widely accessible as they are today. Traditional IT and legacy systems simply do not allow for the flexibility and power within infrastructure, platforms and software necessary to embrace novel trends such as the Internet of Things, mobility and advanced analytics.
More specifically, small and medium-sized businesses would rarely be able to adopt these modern solutions without cloud computing at the heart of their IT departments, and many have migrated their systems into these environments as a result. Considering the fact that plenty more trends are likely to surface and intensify in the coming years that have similar requirements with respect to infrastructure capabilities and general IT agility, the time is now to enhance use of the cloud.
If you would like a high-level description of some of the ways in which technologies are helping to drive small businesses to greater heights, check out this video from Steven Aldrich, presented by the Silicon Valley Innovation Center:
Two of the more obvious trends that are quickly becoming critical to competition are business intelligence and the IoT, and they are likely become highly intertwined before long given the massive volumes of information the devices will be generating. Small-business owners need to ensure that they are positioning their firms for success with advanced analytics and the IoT, and leveraging cloud services more comprehensively might be the best option available. However, content management will need to be streamlined as soon as possible from a strategic standpoint.
A new face of intelligence
International Data Corporation recently reported that organizations from around the globe are likely to begin embracing cognitive systems, which are essentially platforms and software that include a wide array of analytical and management features for information. As a note, these tools are characterized by their broad-reaching capabilities compared to standard big data solutions, such as providing hypothesis generation, clustering, alerts, navigation, search and tagging, among many other features.
"Unstructured and semi-structured data is fueling a renaissance in the handling and analysis of information, resulting in a new generation of tools and capabilities that promise to offer intelligent assistance, advice and recommendations to consumers and knowledge workers around the world," IDC Cognitive Systems and Content Analytics Research Director David Schubmehl explained.
The analysts expect investment in this technology to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent between now and 2019. This would translate to roughly $31.3 billion spent annually on cognitive systems before the end of the decade, which is immense to say the least.
"These cognitively enabled solutions are being developed and implemented on cognitive software platforms that offer the tools and capabilities to extract and build knowledge bases and knowledge graphs from unstructured and semi-structured information as well as provide predictions, recommendations and intelligent assistance through the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning," Schubmehl added. "The markets for these cognitively enabled applications and cognitive software platforms is just beginning, and IDC expects spending to accelerate throughout the forecast period."
Organizations will need to ensure that their information governance strategies and systems are as modernized and optimized as possible before introducing cognitive systems. The same is true for general business intelligence solutions, in that better performance levels at the time of implementation will tend to translate to greater rewards. IDC noted that banks will represent the highest share of spending around the globe throughout the study period, while retail and health care will trail not far behind.
"The potential use cases for cognitive systems are as wide, varied, and rich as the imagination," Jessica Goepfert, program director for IDC's Customer Insights and Analysis section, affirmed. "Automated threat intelligence, for instance, is helping organizations connect the dots between pieces of information to improve security, while in health care, cognitive systems are improving the quality of people's lives by assisting in diagnosis and treatment at the individual patient level. Wherever cognitive systems are in play, workers and organizations can expect to be impacted by the power of more information, intelligence and automation."
With all this in mind, small-business owners must also remember that the IoT is likely to add even more fodder to the analytics canon, and prepare accordingly.
"Public cloud PaaS might be more effective for the IoT than on-premise."
A new foundation for the IoT
Gartner recently predicted that the IoT will create a marked increase in Platform-as-a-Service adoption rates, adding that about half of apps that are created in 2020 and after will be at once made specifically for the IoT and formulated in the cloud. Interestingly, the analysts noted that off-premise, public clouds are likely to be far more effective than on-premise or private ones, with 80 percent of companies trying the latter failing to meet objectives.
"Success with a private cloud (including PaaS) requires a recognition of the essential cultural and organizational changes to IT organizations, as well as technology changes," Gartner Fellow Yefim Natis argued. "Lacking this understanding leads many organizations to stop their PaaS investment at the point of technology deployment - leading to disappointing results down the road."
Small-business owners should heed these calls to action with respect to leveraging cloud computing intelligently, and consider the use of managed services to ensure the integrity of their strategies related to the IoT, analytics, cognitive systems and beyond.