“SMAC” -- social, mobility, analytics, and cloud -- is set to drastically change business in 2013. While each of these four components has been evolving individually, companies are beginning to treat them as an integrated whole. Essentially this means dismantling the traditional business design: no more need to keep people and information in the same location or to spend big bucks to support information sharing, communication, and collaboration.
According to “Future of Work” by IT services company Cognizant, this age-old structure of business is already under pressure from the Google Effect, the Skype Effect, the LinkedIn Effect, and the Amazon Effect. Google has fully virtualized and dematerialized information, so collocating workers and information could actually be an unnecessary, expensive affair. Skype has made physical distance irrelevant -- a global company can move digital bits from one side of the Earth to the other, for free. Just as Facebook allowed people to maintain and improve personal friendships, it is now helping forge professional relationships and trusted business partnerships across the world, and LinkedIn has made it easy for employers to find the best talent.
Research firm Gartner therefore rightly observes that the nexus of these four IT forces (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud), along with the continued impact of consumer spending, has essentially set the stage for the next generation of business technology. IT companies in India that manage IT infrastructure for global clients need to move into higher-margin projects that help clients’ businesses grow -- in fact, several clients are already demanding such SMAC services.
The National Association for Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has predicted that by 2020, the Indian IT industry will collectively rake in over $225 billion in revenue, thereby riding the wave of emerging technologies and new innovations. Further, in its 2013 CIO Sentiment Survey (for fall 2012) IDC made these predictions:
- Big data analytics projects and pervasive analytics deployments will seek new revenue and operational efficiencies. Verticals such as retail, manufacturing, financial services, government, oil and gas, life sciences and healthcare providers will use customer analytics to drive revenue, profits and operational performance.
- Organizations will revisit mobile and wireless strategies and invest in technologies that enable visibility, virtualization and visualization. Mobility will be the game changer for some industries such as financial services, retail, manufacturing government, healthcare, life sciences, and oil and gas.
- Cloud computing will hit its stride in many industries. Infrastructure consolidation will hit its peak as cloud spending accounts for 8 per cent of all IT spending in the US. Over 50 per cent of for health plans would have executed a cloud strategy by the end of 2013. Healthcare providers will embrace Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), while financial services will prefer community-based clouds.
- Social media lessons will continue to be learnt by many industries. Interestingly, nearly 35 per cent of government organizations in the US will initiate evaluation or implementation of social analytics tools in 2013.
The Indian IT companies that are looking for higher-margin business, and an opportunity to grow out of IT service contracts that depend on cutting margins, should progress to these technologies. It is also time for the industry to make the shift to transformational projects that make significant improvements to a client’s business. Instead of approaching each of these trends as individual silos, the industry has veered toward a unified approach.
Research by the Aberdeen Group has come up with a similar vision, but given it a different name -- SOMOCLO (social, mobile, cloud). It pushes a converged IT infrastructure with the cloud at the core, mobility at its edge, and social as the connection between the cloud and mobile endpoints. These three disruptive technologies, when placed in context, empower an organization to undertake technical services that provide a user experience in which all employees are connected (social), everywhere they go (mobile), and have access to data when and where they need it (cloud).
With all the crystal gazing revealing that there is only one way to go forward, CIOs need to take a long hard look at SMAC as part of a new business process management strategy.