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Ten questions the CIO should ask his technology vendor

CIOs often face challenges in evaluating technology vendors and identifying the right strategic vendor for their IT needs. CIOs prefer vendor solutions which are able to provide business growth in dynamic and agile organizations. In this era of rapid technology growth the focus of vendors’ is normally more on system usability and features rather than fulfilling CIOs concerns on strategic IT. In this post, top 10 questions for technology vendors are provided which is intended to help CIOs in identifying the right IT vendor.

Business companies look for ways to increase efficiency and maximize their value. There are many examples to demonstrate the role of IT as an enabler for business. For example, e-commerce, web based applications, cloud computing, etc., to name a few. Vendors have also understood this well, and most of the vendors are quick to talk about their product features for its business benefits without understanding customer requirements or market demands. According to IDG Enterprise survey 2015 titled CIO Role and Influence Research it was found that in some of the CIO or industry gatherings, vendors fail to understand the specific business goals and challenges from CIOs. Vendors tend to talk more and listen less to CIOs and the much intended focus on achieving business objectives using technology is often lost.

From the technical perspective IT is undergoing fundamental shifts in technology where a variety of technologies are converging on business – some CIOs see them as disruptive. These trends create certain unique challenges for CIOs to identify strategic vendors for the organization. Strategic vendors are those that offer highest quality of service, understand business objectives and goals of customers and offer superior and proactive post-sales support and service.

It has become highly imperative for vendors to understand what exactly CIOs look for in their products and how their products can meet business goals easily without stretching IT budgets.

The role of CIO in any organization is highly challenging and critical because they play the role of bridging IT and business in order to enhance value for both. Therefore, CIOs by asking the right questions to vendors can maximize return on IT investments by implementing the right solutions that ensures business growth and value.

Given below is a set of top 10 questions every CIO should ask vendors in the current business and technology scenario:

  1. How the new system or technology can adapt with increasing tech savvy workforce?
  2. How can the organization capitalize opportunities in this era of data growth (big data)?
  3. Will the technology be able to integrate existing legacy systems and data?
  4. How can new technology adoption drive business growth?
  5. Can the solution handle integration across platforms?
  6. Is employee training included in the implementation cost? Can the vendor support the system for a period of time without any additional cost?
  7. How secured is information or data in the system/application?
  8. What are the recovery options and DR plans and how will data security fit into those plans?
  9. Will the solution ensure performance, availability and uptime?
  10. Where are the references?

CIOs look towards leveraging technology in a cost-effective and secure manner in order to improve productivity and efficiency within the organization. CIOs can use the above questions to evaluate potential vendors and identify strategic IT vendors for business growth and technology innovations.

Decisions a CIO should not make alone

The success of IT in an organization will require commitment from business managers who stand to benefit from technology. Unless business executives take responsibility for IT’s success or failure in achieving business impact, the role of IT will remain elusive. The main responsibility for CIO is to deliver systems and implement IT projects on time within budgets that has high usage potential and can ensure business growth. It is now the responsibility of the CEO or business executives to make organizational changes required to realize business value from IT.

For many years, business executives are often frustrated with IT personnel due to the failure of IT to accurately understand business needs. IT department in organizations is often viewed as more focused on technical management. Organizations, in order to succeed in digital business scenarios must focus their IT on areas where it will create maximum impact. This is possible only when CIO and IT functions work alongside business in customer facing solutions, data and tools that will provide insight and intelligence and technologies that can penetrate new markets and enable new offerings.

In one international survey done by Forrester Research Inc, it was identified that most of the decisions related to purchase and IT capacity sourcing or co-location in data center companies is done by the CEO instead of CIO. This survey involved senior level decision makers from companies of different sizes. In the digital age organizations focus on using technology to enable new capabilities, create revenue, enhance customer satisfaction and so on, hence the CEO ultimately makes the go or no-go decision for IT deployments by weighing on recommendations from the CIO.

IT executives and CIOs are the right people to decide on IT management in terms of technology standards selection. This decision involves building the infrastructure, designing the IT operations for the company and following standards in implementing new systems and applications. In spite of IT’s important role in establishing an enabling environment for business operations, decisions that have an impact on company’s business strategies must not be given to IT department or to a CIO by default.

In the dynamic business environment where decisions are driven by consumers, it has become highly essential for IT to work alongside business to identify opportunities where technology can create value and accelerate business value. In this scenario, decisions need to be made more broadly to foster business growth and not just a normal IT decision made by a CIO. In order for a CIO to generate full value of their IT investments and to avoid IT disasters, given below are some important decision making areas where the CIO should not take leadership responsibility or accountability.

  • IT spending strategy: IT funding is an important aspect where executives often ponder on the question whether IT spending is high or low. One standard approach to determine appropriate IT spending is to follow the industry standards and benchmarks. There are companies where IT spending is quite high but has failed to develop the right IT platform to execute business strategies. In such situations, the management defines the strategic role played by IT and appropriately determines funding levels required to achieve those strategies.
  • Companywide IT Capabilities: CIOs must understand that flexibility in business units becomes limited if their technical and process standardization is above normal limits. Excessive standardization results in frequent exceptions in IT which can increase costs and minimize business synergies. The management or CEO takes the call on deciding whether to have a centralized IT capability or to have IT systems developed by individual businesses.
  • IT investments and funding: IT becomes overwhelmed when many projects are implemented simultaneously. IT can lack focus when many projects that have less companywide value are scheduled to be deployed simultaneously. Therefore, the CEO or senior management will decide on which IT initiative is funded on priority and which is not funded or scheduled for later funding and deployment.
  • IT services strategy: In certain circumstances companies end up paying more costs for service options which are not worth the money spent. For instance, system characteristics such as responsiveness, accessibility and reliability will incur costs. In such situations, the senior management will decide on spending for various IT features and services. For example, improved reliability, response time, etc., forms the basis for costs and benefits.
  • Acceptance level of risks: IT risk management is a tricky area because if security and privacy is overemphasized this can cause inconvenience to suppliers, customers and also employees. Likewise if security is underemphasized this can make data vulnerable. To ensure a secured environment, the CEO decides on the trade-off between convenience and security.
  • Accountability on IT failure: When there is an IT failure the business value of IT is ignored. In order to monitor business metrics, a business executive must be made accountable for every IT project to overcome disruptions while achieving business metrics.

The above decision making areas suggest that CIO does not make decisions alone in the organization on strategic use of IT. Business decision making in organizations is based on their governance approaches, structure, strategy and culture. For example, IT spending decisions are made by a budgeting process which is approved by the senior management. Decisions related to IT architecture and associated standards are made by the CIO in coordination with business executives. A good governance structure will identify a person responsible and accountable for critical IT decisions and apply uniform principles for the role of IT in the organization.

ICT Governance Best Practices

Information and Communication technology (ICT) is an emerging area as a delivery platform in public services mostly used by government organizations and also by the corporate. ICT projects and applications facilitate redesign of processes and convergence in the organization. In order to have an effective delivery of IT services for transitional and socio-economic change, a governance structure must be developed with specific focus to organizational goals. ICT projects are intended to bring transitional and socio-economic change, but they can be successful only when there is good governance.

The phenomenal increase of technology development, deployment and growth has given rise to a new emerging area known as information and communication technologies (ICT). In many countries including India, governments are exploring the potential of ICT to create new dimensions in economic and social progress. For example, the Indian railway’s online passenger reservation system, web enabled portals for the Right to Information (RTI) act provide information related to various government schemes, legislations, etc., are some examples of ICT applications deployment in public services.

The pervasive use of technology in ICT projects has resulted in a critical dependency on IT shifts with specific focus on IT governance. Governance refers to leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure IT sustains itself while extending the organization’s strategy and objectives. Therefore, IT projects in public sector have extensive requirements and goals because here IT plays the role of fulfilling economic and political objectives.

Most of the best practices in ICT governance are developed to improve transparency and accountability and for reducing cost. Governance in IT also applies to all types of organizations (government, corporate and non-governmental organizations). Governance in ICT is essential for efficiency and to organize resources for the next growth of IT developments, keeping in view the costs and budgets for ICT projects. The importance and need for governance in ICT is due to the following reasons:

  • The role of IT is pivotal in achieving business or socio-economic objectives
  • Helps the organization to overcome IT risks
  • Creates awareness of ICT in public services
  • Reduces cost in service delivery

Due to these reasons ICT governance is becoming critical in organizations and hence an effective governance approach must first identify answers to three key questions:

  • What are the decisions required to ensure effective use and management of IT?
  • Who makes these decisions in the organization?
  • How can these decisions be implemented and monitored easily?

In ICT governance, decisions are highly important. Normally, IT decisions involves the role of management in IT objectives, architecture, business application requirements, infrastructure and investment. These important decision areas support organizations to understand whether their IT is able of deliver expected business needs along with resource management, performance and alignment. Therefore governance in IT is not just an IT management function instead, it is an ongoing activity with specific focus on enhancing and controlling IT for the benefit of primary stakeholders, customers and employees. Governance is the ultimate responsibility of the senior management or Board of Directors to ensure IT is adequately owned and used in the organization.

Developing and implementing ICT governance principles involves addressing a number of process issues practically. Some of the best practices or critical success factors in ICT governance initiatives are summarized below:

  • Enterprise wide IT approach should be adopted. IT along with business units must define all requirements and controls (in-house and external). A more cohesive approach to implementing governance will ensure clear understanding and approval of all involved parties on policies or directions and the scope of ICT in the organization.
  • Accountability and top level commitment. The management responsibilities and accountabilities must be clearly defined in the organization. ICT governance can be successful when there is clear direction and objectives from the executives or Board.
  • A framework for IT controls should be developed and required in the organization. This framework will be developed through consensus, by defining IT processes and controls required for managing the IT function effectively. Here again the processes in governance must be enterprise wide and not confined to IT functions. It is also important for the management to create awareness with all members involved in the organization so the objectives are understood and the practices are adhered to fully.
  • Gain trust internally and externally for IT functions. Trust is gained by aligning IT services with customer requirements. Here the IT Head or the CIO assumes center stage for developing awareness programs, workshops and acts as a link between business and IT.
  • Performance measurement in IT. In this practice, performance metrics are established on business terms and approved by stakeholders. This is a good approach to raise awareness of IT governance initiatives.
  • Costs play a big role ICT governance programs. ICT projects offer opportunities for financial savings when the project is implemented fully and when users are satisfied. Financial savings in the organization provide support and open new potential for more ICT projects.

ICT services are deployed to allow improved delivery of organizational objectives and goals. ICT governance structures are made to analyze and evaluate ICT investments, provide architectural guidance and guarantees quality assurance in projects. Governance best practices also helps the organization to monitor IT alignment with business, provides strategic directions for managing ICT investments and leadership.

SAP HANA Adoption Trends

All of us in IT are aware that better business decisions are made only when data is available in meaningful format and at the right time. Many vendors offer enterprise solutions for extracting useful information from a variety of data sources. SAP HANA is a RDBMS with potential to process huge volume of data in server memory by combing the capabilities of database, data-processing and application platform execution. SAP HANA is seen as the next major breakthrough in enterprise IT.

In 2011, SAP a major ERP and enterprise technology solutions vendor contributed their product offering known as SAP HANA. HANA is a High-Performance Analytic Appliance which is an in-memory platform for processing high volumes of transactional and operational data in real time. The in-memory technology provides instant responses to queries without any waiting time. This is considered a game changer in industry because the entire data base is stored on the server memory for real time analysis and processing as against data stored in disks where analysis is done in increments through repeated disk read-write activity.

In simple terms, HANA is a memory database which supports SQL standards along with multi-dimensional expressions (MDX). HANA provides columnar data storage and is compliant with ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability – guarantees the database transactions are processed reliably), an ISO standard which makes it a highly preferred platform by analysts and data scientists. In addition to these benefits, SAP HANA also has a programming component which helps the company’s IT unit to create custom applications on top of HANA database. The platform provides a suit for integrating multiple data sources and to perform various types of analytics (predictive, spatial, text, etc.). The appliance can run in parallel with SAP ERP software where analysts can access real-time transactional data instead of waiting to run daily or weekly reports.

According to SAP, customer adoption for HANA is constantly growing across multiple industries with already 6400+ customers using the platform and this number is likely to increase in the year as claimed by their CEO. Some of the key business drivers for SAP HANA adoption are explored, from the perspective of business.

Key business drivers for SAP HANA adoption

  • Analytics, Dashboards and Operational Reporting: Businesses look for in-depth information, and it is much better when information is available in real-time. HANA allows data to be displayed dynamically without aggregation and can be visualized in different dimensions for decision making and verifying business progress. Analytics can be performed using real time or historical data with prebuilt predictive libraries.
  • Data warehousing and data marts: This feature enables the streamlining of data in centralized store or in business departments for better management. SAP HANA offers predictive analytics to identify trends and decide on better business strategies. Data warehousing applications can be accelerated with on the fly aggregations and analysis. Analytics can be done using different types of data and also on streaming data.
  • Business Operations are optimized: With HANA, the company is enabled to quickly respond to changing business requirements or market trends to be more competitive. The in-memory technology accelerates application performance, provide real time reporting, offer BI tools and can also run complex ERP or MRP applications to customize information using live data. This feature is beneficial compared to conventional enterprise applications and analytics tools.
  • Support for big data: SAP HANA can acquire and process petascale data volumes from variety of sources containing different data formats. Big data analytics is sought by businesses to gain business insights and target customers with customized offerings. HANA suite offers big data development and analytics tools.
  • Operational intelligence in real-time: SAP HANA supports real time business operational intelligence through which insights can be derived continuously.
  • Automation and Simulations, Decision making: Advanced analytics feature in HANA can be leveraged to transform business insights into achievable actions. Decision support is offered by in-memory algorithms in SAP HANA which can simulate business scenarios and predict future outcomes, risks, all using real time and/or historical data.

Benefits realized from SAP HANA
The most notable business benefits derived from SAP HANA adoption include,

  • Rapid forecasting and business strategy development without delays
  • Business performance is better understood and monitored in real time
  • Improved marketing campaigns through data analytics
  • Prevent unplanned disruptions and avoid risks in business operations
  • Accurate business decision making

Businesses have begun to recognize the potential of SAP HANA as in-memory computing is an emerging technology area preferred by CTOs and IT executives. SAP HANA enhances productivity in the company and offers significant cost savings in both maintenance and development. In a Forrester study titled Total Economic Impact: Cost saving with SAP HANA, it was found that enterprise companies while using SAP HANA, the software development costs reduced by almost 70%, administration costs were reduced by over 20% and hardware spending reduced by 15%. Therefore, SAP HANA is clearly proving to benefit organizations in both ways, i.e., business and in technology.

What CEOs really want from CIOs?

The availability of various technologies for almost all business functions is shifting the responsibilities of a traditional CIO who is normally involved in technology selection, purchase and IT management. According to Gartner CEO Research, almost 60% of CEOs view IT as a key constraint to implementing business changes in the organization. Recent trends in business IT systems and CEO perspectives on IT place enormous expectations on the CIO to enhance business value and use technology effectively for overall growth in the company.

As technology permeates almost every business area and functions, the board and CEO are taking active interest in usage of technology. Technology of today is viewed by business leaders as indispensable and an active source of competitive advantage. Business disruptions due to technology are becoming an accepted fact across many industries and at times the impact is quite significant. The CEO of today understands the potential of new emerging technologies when their competitors are able to generate more value using digital channels. However to leverage technology for business success and to execute emerging strategic priorities, the CEO or is more dependent on the CIO.

According to CIO Magazine, a number of CEOs are quick to embrace the impression that CIOs are strategic business peers. This is because their companies engage customers using technology and social media hence the role of CIO is highly important. For example, the CEO of Bayer explains that CIOs can play an important role in the executive table by providing the right technology conclusions to achieve business strategies. Therefore, CEOs look for IT leaders who are accountable not only for IT management, but can also fuel innovation, growth and enable change to develop competitive business advantage – all using technology.

The role of CIO as perceived by the CEO is to focus outside on markets, customers and opportunities and suggest strategies for product development. CIOs by virtue of their technical background often face difficulties while communicating with non-IT people and customers. This is often debated as the main limitation that widens the gap between business and IT. CEOs address and treat everyone as peers to generate business value and this includes customers, vendors and employees. This approach by CEOs increases the expectations of CIO in managing these areas along with managing IT, costs and internal reporting.

In today’s complex business scenarios, CEOs are fully dependent on CIOs for business success. Hence, CEOs place certain strategic priorities for CIOs that include,

  • Enhancing the potential of technology: It is a proven fact that digital strategy is highly important for effective execution of business if the company needs to remain competitive. IT creates new opportunities to deliver enhanced customer experience and services to transform business value. Here, CIOs can facilitate the development of digital roadmap by which the company can collaborate with customers, vendors and all stake holders to support business initiatives. CIOs can play the role to generate new revenue channels by the use of technology.
  • Transform the digital environment: This is another challenging area where CIOs have to ensure the transition from a legacy environment to a more nimble and flexible IT environment. The transition should be made without disrupting business operations. CEO expects the new IT environment will assure relevance in business departments and will support in active decision making. The CIO has to further ensure the required skills are available in the company to handle new business needs.
  • Decision making through business intelligence (BI) and analytics: Many enterprise companies make use of BI tools and analytics to cover a wide range of functions such as finance, SCM, marketing, HR, etc., and are recognizing business benefits. CIOs should work closely with business units to implement these tools for analyzing data to show useful information to the CEO and in turn recognize data as an invaluable asset in the company. BI and analytics tools when used effectively will definitely have a positive impact on business bottom-line and in customer services.
  • Secure the business from cyber attacks: The substantial increase in use of new technology makes the business vulnerable to attacks through IT. CIOs can guide the management in this critical area by developing strategies to deal with risks posed by cyber security threats. Employee training on security matters is highly essential to protect all vital information assets available in the company. Cyber attacks are possible when the company is not fully prepared to deal with it. CIOs should proactively implement effective IT security for mitigation of attacks and have comprehensive disaster recovery measures to ensure business continuity and protection of data.
  • Fulfill business needs by transitioning to vendor outsourcing: Outsourcing key business functions is popular in business organizations and this is proving to be beneficial. CIOs can consider outsourcing as an option to transform the company from traditional legacy environment to a more flexible infrastructure such as cloud computing. The CEO expects this transition will be smooth which offers an advantage for the CIO to reduce existing IT costs and increase overall business value and expansion by deploying cloud based solutions in the company.
  • Business growth and innovation: CEOs expect IT to innovate and create new growth opportunities for the organization. Nowadays IT is used extensively in innovation therefore, the expectations on the CIO are high to play a dominant role to drive innovation and create new opportunities for business growth.

In addition to the above expectations, the CIO is also expected to deliver safe IT solutions in a cost effective manner, for example, BYOD. CIOs must consider redefining their roles to be more business centric in order to create valuable assets through data management and effective implementation of technology.

IT Adoption Trends in Banking

Banking sector is a highly dynamic area with challenging competitive pressures like changes in customer requirements, stringent regulations and the need to adopt new business models. The pressure is more on streamlining operations and enhancing core processes to make them more efficient and customer friendly. IT systems, software and related technology developments offer support for banks to overcome most of their competitive pressures.

Computerization in banking sector started during 1980s and is still evolving with the advent of new technologies. Banking sector since the last decade is constantly investing on IT to enhance their capabilities by adopting new technologies. Technology adoption is largely driven by changing business trends and globalization which has a direct impact on banks as customer needs evolve in the form of online banking services and transactions. Banks are rolling out core banking solutions in cloud SaaS model to benefit their customers with online access.

IT Adoption Trends in Banking

In addition to these changes, the increased trade flows within regions enabled by the world-wide-web and e-commerce is contributing to IT investments and latest technology adoption by banks. For instance, the use of smart phones by customers is forcing banks to rapidly improve their online services. The Indian banking sector is likely to witness huge growth prospects in the coming years and will extend into the next decade. According to KPMG-CII report India is expected to become the fifth largest banking industry in the world by 2020 and will be the third largest in the world by 2025 as the country’s GDP growth appears promising.

Key business drivers for IT adoption in banking
These promising growth estimates create a need for banks to revamp their existing IT infrastructures and move to the next tier in IT outsourcing for online services. As banks are becoming more customer-centric, they naturally need IT to manage the following aspects:

  • Understand customer insights using analytics, strengthen customer engagement and relationships
  • Enhance customer services and efficiency through message centers
  • Identify potential for growth using business intelligence tools and big data
  • Explore social media platforms for targeting customers
  • Standardize products and reduce lead time using big data analytics
  • Effectively develop low risk products
  • Compliance to statutory regulations and international standards

Banks are high consumers of IT services and technology in their core services to achieve cost efficiencies and scalability. Some of the recent trends driving IT adoption in banks are explored below:

  • Innovative customer engagement: Digital channels such as social media networks provide access to large number of users. These channels present banks with unique opportunities to deliver customized solutions and services. Digital channels also foster communication with customers at individual levels thus strengthening relationships.
  • Data is fuelling innovation in banks: Data available in various sources on the internet provides unique opportunity for banks to capture them and use it to their advantage. IT platforms and tools can analyze huge volumes of data for identifying meaningful information which banks can use in their product and service strategies. Big data tools and in-memory analytics are mostly used by banks to draw insights and realign their products to satisfy existing customers and to leverage new customers.
  • Security systems to minimize fraud: Digital transactions from multiple devices are proliferating at high rates. This proliferation also opens up security issues because banking transactions online must be protected from hackers who try to exploit vulnerabilities in the systems and steal sensitive data. The increasing portfolio of products and delivery channels and trends such as e-commerce and mobile commerce with payment gateways need to be secured well to prevent data leaks. Cyber risk management in banks is quite complex, however IT outsourcing from data centers can take care of this critical area and prevent data theft or fraud. Banks in order to secure their data and services need to engage sophisticated security systems which are ensured by data centers and cloud service providers.
  • Mobile banking: Customers are increasingly using mobile devices largely in banking transactions. Most of the banks offer mobile banking services to their customers and are adopting this technology to develop client relationships. With mobile banking customers can check their account information, withdrawals, payments, transfers and generate mini statements, etc. all from their smart phone. Mobile banking is a popular trend adopted by banks in servicing customers.
  • Business Intelligence: Banks stand to gain from predictive modeling and analysis to fine tune their product and service strategies. For instance, analytics helps banks to invest in channels that offer greater potential for ROI based on customer behaviour and are flexible to market demands. BI involves predictive modeling and analytics which require flexible computing capacities with centralized data stores. Banks adopting such IT systems benefit through lower operational costs, flexibility and deployment capabilities to result in improved time to market.
  • Core-Banking on SaaS: Banks provide core banking services online for customers to enhance significant efficiencies in their operations. Implementing core banking services on the cloud SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model offers the ability to service customers anytime, anywhere and even when they are mobile. The pay-as-you-go pricing model in SaaS allows banks to save costs on deployment and maintenance of hardware and software as opposed to in-house IT.

Key benefits realized by IT adoption

  • Banks are able to understand customers well through social networking platforms and other digital channels. Using these channels banks strategize their services for targeting individuals and able to efficiently communicate information.
  • Analytics and business intelligence tools support banks with strategies for engaging customers, capturing potential customers and to become more competitive
  • Mobile banking services is becoming a preferred mode to ensure customer satisfaction, offering convenience to customers
  • Cloud SaaS service models provide the advantage of scalable IT infrastructures and multiple operating platforms for deploying applications along with infinite resources thus saving banks from capital expenditure on purchasing hardware and hiring IT personnel.

Banks having the ability to access data anytime and derive information are likely to be more competitive in responding to customer needs quickly. With latest trends and user friendly technologies in IT, the banking sector is poised to increase their operational efficiency and profits by responding quickly in the competition.

IT Adoption Trends in Healthcare

Information technology is surely proving to be a game changer in healthcare sector along with other business sectors and industry verticals. Healthcare services offered by private sector hospitals are viewed as a major force behind technology adoption in this coveted segment. Emerging trends such as wireless technologies and cloud computing systems offer the ability to provide health care information anytime, anywhere and can be accessed using multiple devices.

Healthcare sector offers immense potential for IT services and solutions. The focus of healthcare service providers or hospitals is to optimize a variety of healthcare related tasks. Healthcare tasks include, managing operations efficiently related to healthcare delivery, patient care, reporting or management information systems (MIS) and integrating data between different departments (for example, pathology, radiology, intensive-care, etc.) among many others. Technology allows information sharing across hospitals, act as patient referrals and disseminate knowledge related to certain specific illnesses. The main objective is to have an enterprise wide comprehensive health information management system (HMIS) for enhancing healthcare service delivery which is made possible through technology adoption.

IT Adoption Trends in Healthcare

IT enables easy accessibility of healthcare data and helps to overcome the issues in manual processing of health data. According to one survey done by Healthcare Informatics in 2014, cloud computing is widely preferred by the healthcare sector showing an adoption rate of 83% worldwide and this market has the potential to generate $9.48 billion revenues by 2020. Cloud computing systems also provide data privacy, patient confidentiality and security which are highly required by hospitals to protect their knowledge and vital health information assets.

Key objectives for IT adoption in Healthcare
IT services is certainly poised for seamless provisioning of healthcare to both, patients and healthcare professionals. Some of the key drivers in IT adoption include,

  • Cost effective healthcare delivery
  • Comprehensive patient information in centralized stores for intelligent analysis and referrals
  • New approaches in interactions and information sharing between healthcare providers and patients (use of mobile devices, social media platforms, etc.)
  • Efficiency, transparency and instant data sharing between departments (pathology, intensive-care, radiology, etc.)
  • Improving standards in public health systems

Based on these objectives, IT usage trends that are quite likely to transform healthcare sector are summarized below,

  • Maturity at organizational levels: The trend namely ‘innovation center of excellence’ followed by organizations is paving the way for healthcare and life sciences firms towards aligning their resources in innovative ways – for example, Pfizer views innovation across its pharmaceutical divisions to ensure long-term capabilities for the organization. Innovation, collaboration and information sharing is easily enabled by IT and cloud based systems which is always tied to success and competitiveness.
  • Data science movement: This is one exciting development in healthcare today, HMIS professionals seek to bring more meaning and identify insights by making use of existing data. The availability of big data in healthcare analytics is taking center stage and already companies are investing in healthcare analytics solutions that provide wisdom on improved healthcare for patients. Such voluminous processing and handling of large datasets require high performance compute, storage and bandwidth resources.
  • Liquidity of Information: Data liquidity is another trend which emphasizes on interoperability. Without interoperability the desired healthcare outcomes of populations cannot be achieved. Nowadays, electronic medical records (EMR) are designed to be interoperable which is made possible by open source platforms and certain development environments. Data centers and cloud service models, especially SaaS environments provide the needed interoperability in EMR for accessing data across multiple operating environments.
  • Data Security: With interoperability, security is a big issue. Security in healthcare information is crucial because the right information must be sent to the right person at the right time thus protecting patient privacy and data integrity. Security is also highly desired by hospitals to protect their vital knowledge related to illness and treatment procedures. Cloud services offered by data centers provide multiple layers of in-depth defense to ensure security at different user levels in any healthcare organization.
  • Clinical Innovation: The trends of data science and innovation aims to result in patient empathy and improved approaches to drug development and healthcare delivery. During the last decade, healthcare industry has opened up by sharing large amounts of online information which is made possible by emerging technologies and the worldwide web. Pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and many others feel the need to adopt emerging technologies in their research for better drug outcomes. Further, technology enables healthcare companies to innovate and quickly test new medical interventions, procedures and methods which otherwise would normally take long time to develop and implement in the absence of technology. Further technology supports healthcare experts to provide directives on disease outbreaks and to provide information to rural populations for prevention and care.

Benefits realized from IT adoption in healthcare

  • Improved collaboration and efficient information sharing and work flows between all stakeholders in healthcare sector. According to Clinical Innovations + Technology, 1 out of every 3 patients expressed satisfaction that digital communications play a significant role in improving their health.
  • Leverage big data analytics and analysis tools for supporting research in identifying new drugs for improved clinical interventions. According to McKinsey Global Institute, the use of big data technologies in drug and clinical trials has the capacity to generate US$ 100 billion annually.
  • Disease data sharing between hospitals for better clinical interventions but protecting patient privacy.
  • Clinical innovations through analysis of EMR, EHR. According to Accenture Consulting report on Health Tech Vision-2015, 54% patients are finding mobile devices and apps as advantageous in health monitoring and 28% physicians use computerized records routinely for clinical decision making.

In addition to the above, there are many more advantages to show the benefits of technology adoption in healthcare services. According to PWC report on healthcare, the global healthcare business is pegged at US$ 9.29 trillion in the coming years. Healthcare professionals must understand that technology is only a tool for integrating information from various stakeholders including patients and not a substitute for treatment or physicians. Overall, the healthcare sector is more poised to embrace emerging technologies in the coming decades due for their functionalities, efficiency and easy accessibility.

IT Adoption Trends in Insurance Industry

Insurance companies are investing heavily in IT and related technologies to improve customer experience and reduce operational costs. The advent of new technologies and tools such as SaaS, big data analytics, business intelligence, etc. are offering insurers with solutions to improve efficiency in their core and non-core systems. Recent technology trends support insurers in strengthening customer interactions, target potential customers and provide usage based insurance.

Digital technology is a global megatrend which is transforming a variety of industries that includes the insurance sector. Insurance sector has been a bit slow to IT adoption due to rapid changes in technology and also because their distribution channels are still conservative, i.e., handled by agents and brokers and were in fact not ready to adopt new technology. However, digital technologies adoption by customers that include social media, smart phones, electronic transactions, etc., enabled by cloud service models, e-commerce and mobility are making an impact on the technical and commercial capabilities for many insurance companies. Insurers are quick to capitalize on this trend.

IT Adoption Trends in Insurance

According to EY survey on ‘Global Insurance Market Trends’ the insurance sector is growing and offering potential markets for insurance companies particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The current growth for insurance in Asia-Pacific region is around 39% of the total world’s economic growth. In the context of India, the insurance sector is having a market share of US$ 60 billion and is expected to increase four fold in the next decade. As per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), December 2015 estimates the general insurance business in India is expected to grow at 17% in the coming years. All this growth generates huge volumes of data and customer information.

EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2014 report highlights the need for strengthening customer relationships to achieving customer loyalty in insurance services. This is becoming a strategic imperative for insurance sector to encompass all product categories, geographies and to incorporate complete range of operating models. Growth in terms of increasing insured customers would need superior IT environment and platforms to respond effectively and engage customers with updated information and communication all the time.

Key business drivers for IT adoption in insurance:

  • Engaging customers using multi-channels of customer interaction and include all age segments
  • Devise strategies to include the growing investments in internet and mobile channel strategies for faster and instant communication
  • Collaborate with partners to launch innovative products in areas such as micro-finance, wealth management, etc.
  • Automate underwriting processes using data analytics and business intelligence (BI) and predict real time fraud analysis, risk analysis
  • Leverage Bancassurance banking systems and regulations available in each country to explore cross-selling of insurance products, particularly in emerging markets like India

Digital technologies have the ability to intersect and establish interdependences with different insurance functions and enable collaboration. Based on the above business drivers, the following IT adoption trends can be currently found in insurance companies.

  • Social media analysis: Insurers are turning to social media as a marketing medium and a platform for collaboration. Social media is widely used for networking with friends and business partners. The usage of social media is made easy by smart phones and mobile devices. Insurers are able to target new customers based on their life events and also use social media networks to communicate with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Focus on SaaS solutions: Insurance companies are deploying applications by adopting SaaS solutions because it offers superior infrastructure, high levels of security and low risk. Insurance companies have the advantage of access to latest infrastructure and IT platforms at low cost. SaaS offers a perfect solution for insurance to improve their efficiency at minimal capital costs.
  • Real time architectures for agility: Real time data sources are mobile technologies and social media which can be leveraged by insurance companies to become more competitive. Capturing real time data from online channels is proving a gold mine for insurance companies because they provide insights on customer behaviour based on which insurance products are strategized. Insurance companies are deploying data analytics tools, BI platforms and data visualization tools to derive full benefits of real time data.
  • Data analytics and big data: The ability to capture real time data, big data and analytics play an important role for insurers in terms of potential customers. The recent trend is the adoption of sensor technologies named telematics used to monitor driving behaviours of the individual. These technologies help insurance companies to provide usage-based insurance policies.
  • The above trends offer immense benefits for both, the insurer and the insured.

    Key benefits realized by IT adoption:

    • Social media is proving to be an effective tool for insurers to garner more leads, remediation and retention of insurers along with targeting new potential customers.
    • SaaS adoption significantly reduces cost and lead time for implementing IT systems and applications. Mostly SaaS is outsourced from data centers therefore insurance company can save cost in IT hardware and in hiring IT staff.
    • Development of new products and strategies are possible from data analytics tools that provide customer insights. BI and data visualization tools enable competitiveness and agility.
    • IT improves overall efficiency in operations, communications and instant information sharing with customers and stakeholders

    Information plays an important role in the insurance sector in terms of product pricing, development, risk management, claim processing and fraud detection. These functions can be executed by collecting data from multiple sources and by using software tools to obtain meaningful insights from data. In order to effectively implement insurance operations, insurance sector needs to adopt IT systems, new technologies and networks to capture real time data and bolster their data storage capacity for analysis in order to capitalize more customers.

Cloud Adoption Trends in Aviation

Aviation industry due to its technical nature is focusing more on passenger needs towards developing more helpful personal relationships. The common approach is by deploying apps and by adopting new IT systems and technologies. According to Avionics Magazine (March 2015), 78% of all major airports will provide customer relationship apps to deliver personalized trip information and tailor made services by 2018. This is possible by converging technologies namely cloud, mobile, analytics and big data, since smart phones are mostly used by travellers worldwide to seek travel information. In order to handle huge volumes of data and multiple devices, airlines are partnering with data centers offering cloud services to outsource their IT needs.

IT is pervading all aspects of human life such as health, retail, governance, entertainment and media, travel, education and so on. In this post we explore IT adoption trends in the aviation industry. Aviation industry is an important factor in travel and tourism sector that leads to increased economy for nations. IT systems, new technologies and services are proving the capabilities to enhance internal processes and improve passenger experience, meeting customer demands, compliance to regulations and cost reduction. Aviation sector in today’s scenario are high adopters of technology to reach passengers globally.

Cloud Adoption Trends in Aviation

In the context of India, aviation is one of the fastest growing industries where growth is accelerated by liberalization of the Indian aviation sector, which is undergoing rapid transformation due to low cost private carriers in the aviation market. According to South Asian Journal of Tourism and Heritage, private airlines in India account for more than 75% share of domestic market. The constant expansion by aviation companies needs robust IT systems, networks and technologies. IT adoption in aviation industry is likely to continue into the future, particularly in India which is an emerging economy.

Market imperatives play a vital role in IT adoption in many operational areas. The demands for low cost flying, higher customer satisfaction, reduced risks, stringent regulatory standards, etc. pose unavoidable challenges faced by many aviation companies. Airlines due to their nature of business services struggle with huge quantities of data. Aviation industry reaches customers globally by working around the clock. Therefore airlines need resiliency and responsiveness in order to keep their air operations working efficiently.

To overcome most of the operational challenges and demands IT systems and services provide the ability to redefine ways by which airlines can work efficiently and deliver operational level excellence. New technologies and IT trends such as cloud service models which can easily integrate mobile, big data analytics, sensing technologies is quite likely to offer passengers improved travel experiences with adequate choices and information to passengers even during mobility. The IT adoption trends in aviation with the advent of new technologies are provided below:

  • Reinvent aviation services: Cloud based systems offer aviation companies a choice of operating systems and a variety of technologies and tools simultaneously. Cloud services are outsourced with easy pay-per-use pricing model which is an advantage for airline companies to reduce upfront costs in purchasing and maintaining an in-house IT infrastructure and servers. Aviation companies by availing cloud service models are rest assured that maintenance and administrative costs are eliminated.
  • Faster deployment of services: Airline companies by deploying cloud services can quickly deploy applications and software to provide important information in real time to passengers as opposed to emailing information and updates to ticketing agents. Information can be made available instantly to passengers on any device having access to the airline system (for example, text messaging, etc.). This reduces complexities in information sharing with passengers. In addition to service efficiency, cloud systems are scalable where IT resources can be adjusted to handle compute and network loads fluctuating with changing business needs. For example, Flight Discovery is a mobile based service to support passengers in overcoming baggage and travel issues with airlines.
  • Improved customer engagement: The cloud enables airlines to connect and engage customers directly on mobile and social channels at very low cost. Such type of connection has the potential for building deeper relationships that benefits both the airline and customer. The airline can use customer information about his/her travel preferences to provide more customized services.
  • Productivity improvements: With cloud services, the airline employees at ground level can have flexible working arrangements. Employees can use mobile devices or tablets to receive data and information at their fingertips. Airlines by adopting and deploying beacons to provide information on tablets by which roving employees or agents can help passengers to check-in, baggage drop and boarding to minimize queue lengths at counters.

In addition to the above trends, airlines adopt business intelligence tools for predictive modeling, understanding trends and are investing in data centers to ensure their information is secured. The cloud SaaS model is currently used by 57% companies in aviation services and SaaS adoption is expected to reach 88% by 2018. Similarly IaaS adoption by aviation industry is expected to grow over 74% by 2018 from the current adoption rate of 38%, according to The Airline IT Trends Survey Report 2015. Cloud service models having the potential to efficiently handle infinite number of apps and passenger connectivity are an ideal solution for aviation operations in terms of flexibility and low costs.

IT Adoption Trends in Manufacturing

IT adoption in manufacturing is increasing in terms of automating industrial and transactional process capabilities. According to MintJutras research, the adoption of cloud services in manufacturing is expected to grow by 45% in the coming years. Already 22% of all manufacturing and distribution software across the world are deployed in SaaS cloud model. Cloud based systems are mostly preferred by manufacturing firms due to their characteristics such as control over upgrades, flexibility and optimization characteristics.

Manufacturing is a highly dynamic industry which is vulnerable to volatile business cycles and changing markets. Manufacturing encompasses a variety of functions such as product engineering, services, product lifecycle management, scope for new or improved products in potential markets and so on which offer significant opportunities for manufacturing firms. However in spite of the opportunities and potential, manufacturing firms have to cope with competition, changing regulations, cost and margin pressures which are big challenges.

IT Adoption trends in Manufacturing

IT adoption in manufacturing is largely driven by industrial automation systems and operational management systems. Industrial automation systems make use of technologies namely PLC, HMI, SCADA and so on which have a direct impact on the quality of physical goods produced whereas operational management systems are more focused on automating manual processes through the use of robotics, wireless and mobile applications, reporting dashboards and fully automated workflows. In the case of India, the manufacturing firms are mostly business entities that deliver end products directly or indirectly to customers. These firms work towards gaining competitive advantage through innovation and new product launches.

A close look at the rise of IT adoption in manufacturing sector shows that manufacturing companies prefer emerging IT systems and technology to overcome certain key bottlenecks such as,

  • Challenges in manual operations
  • Issues in managing scale and size in product manufacturing
  • Complying with statutory requirements, changing regulations and efficient client handling
  • Challenges in resource optimization, operational excellence and quality

The above inescapable challenges play a significant role in affecting product accuracy, executing processes in scale, capitalizing on intelligence and in the development of relationships with suppliers, distributors and all stakeholders. Almost all manufacturing sector companies commonly look for short time-to-market schedules to sustain themselves in competitive markets.

IT strategies using emerging technologies such as cloud computing offers the potential for manufacturers to leverage innate intelligence and knowledge into improved business value. IDC in April 2015 explained that there is an accelerating trend across manufacturing firms worldwide to adopt cloud service models as its mainstream operations. Interestingly cloud based SaaS model is preferred by manufacturers to deploy applications such as financial accounting and ERP, CRM, Sales and marketing automation and email. IDC survey on IT adoption in manufacturing indicates 61.6% of manufacturers have some kind of cloud service models in their operations while others are considering new technology adoption to replace existing IT services.

As manufacturing is turning towards IT to overcome their challenges, given below are some trends that can quite likely transform manufacturing in the coming years,

  • Cloud enabled supply chains: Today’s manufacturing landscape is more inter-connected and interdependent thus requiring more collaboration and links with supply chain partners in multiple locations. This scenario can be found in manufacturing firms that cater to customers beyond their geographical boundaries. Such companies are more likely to adopt cloud services to run web based applications to provide real time visibility, become more responsive to customer needs and support to customers.
  • Analytics and mobility: Business intelligence and knowledge are derived from analytics software which churns internal and external data to provide actionable business insights and knowledge. Manufacturing companies that rely on built-to-order or configure-to-order strategies as their core business model would need high-end IT capabilities to capture knowledge, provide mobility support for analytics, business intelligence reporting and analysis. Cloud based systems provide the much needed flexibility in configure-to-order and built-to-order models as they can scale or descale based on production volume. Further cloud systems support multiple mobile devices which can share information on the go.
  • Workflows, collaboration platforms and dashboards: Manufacturing companies deliver real-time status and forecasts and implement applications such as the vendor managed inventory (VMI). Cloud service models enable such firms to fully launch supplier portals and collaboration platforms that provide dashboard information to the management and automate workflows. Dashboard software is also used to report status of each transaction in each branch which is mostly sought by the management, even when they are mobile. Collaboration platforms support product lifecycle management and to launch of new products quickly thus getting an edge over competitors. This strategy is more widely adopted nowadays to overcome problems in time-to-market objectives.
  • Automated customer service and support: Customer support and helpdesk is a critical function to maintain good reputation in markets. Automating online customer service inquiries by integrating them with content management services to handle order processing, pricing, and logistics can be made more efficient and effective by adopting cloud SaaS service models. Manufacturing firms benefit by cost and time advantages through automated customer support.
  • Increased reliance on two-tier ERP systems: ERP implementation strategies provide advantages in material planning, supplier management and at the same time reduce costs and overheads. Large manufacturing firms stand to gain more independence by adopting two-tier ERP strategy thus minimizing their dependency with one ERP vendor. Two-tier ERP systems take care of scaled down operational needs through programming and customization. Cloud based services are the best option to implement a two-tier ERP strategy because the IT infrastructure and operating environment is readily available in their service models, resulting in capital savings on IT infrastructure for manufacturer.

The above trends indicate that IT adoption plays a significant role in manufacturing. IT adoption trends in manufacturing focus on the capacity to drive business strategy and competitive high growth to achieve profits. Therefore companies that strive to achieve superior operational efficiencies should adopt an integrated IT system that converge industrial automation and transactional business management. Such IT systems to work efficiently need high performance compute, network and storage capacities which are available in cloud service models easily from data centers for adoption.