By Matt McCloskey
The ICT landscape is changing dramatically. Once upon a time IT departments were tasked with supplying the necessary ICT equipment and ensuring it continued to run at peak efficiency. Now, as technology is so ingrained in every aspect of a business, the role of IT has become more strategic with CIOs taking their places at the board table and adding real value to a business.
Speaking with clients during the year it’s clear that this trend is not solely the preserve of large multinationals but spans all businesses. Northern Ireland companies such as Chain Reaction Cycles and Wrightbus are at the forefront of innovation through use of IT. They’ve been able to do that because they’ve taken the step to outsource their network and their internet services. So, instead of their time being taken up with the daily tasks of ensuring their network is running effectively or their internet connection is sufficient for their needs, their CIOs are focused on how they can use technological developments to achieve their strategic goals.
Adopting a managed services approach means dedicated experts monitor your network 24/7, address any issues that arise and make any necessary tweaks and updates to ensure your foundational ICT platform can support your current and future business requirements.
Having a robust, high-performing and reliable network is going to become increasingly important as trends such as datacentre to cloud, IP and Internet of Things go mainstream in 2015.
From datacentre to the cloud
Among our customers we’re seeing a growing trend of accessing mission-critical applications from the cloud, or in some cases multiple clouds, either based at customer premises or hosted in a datacentre. In 2015, as well as Software Defined Networks, we will see increased adoption of solutions such as Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which has been purpose-built for integrating cloud computing and data centre management. This application-centric approach allows organisations to deploy applications anywhere, further enhancing the mobility businesses have come to expect.
Stepping into a converged world of communications
The end is fast approaching for traditional voice as IP networking becomes ubiquitous. With IPVPN, a company’s network can handle multiple types of traffic – voice, data and multimedia – over one connection. This combined with SIP and Fixed Mobile convergence further opens up the door to converged communications where data lines converge with voice lines; mobile services converge with fixed line services; and traffic costs are largely eliminated by free on-net calling.
Internet of Everything
We are fast becoming a world where everyone and everything is connected. In 2015 we expect the Internet of Things will become widespread. In 2010 12.5 billion devices were connected to the internet; Cisco predicts this will double to 25 billion by 2015 and double again to 50 billion by 2020. In the coming year we are likely to see smart organisations in Northern Ireland using sensors to give advance notice on maintenance and repairs and using smart cameras, sensors and lasers to analyse manufacturing processes.
Making more of your Wi-Fi
Whether you’re a shopping centre, café or hotel providing Wi-Fi, it’s clear that your Wi-Fi network can hold invaluable information on user behaviour. In 2015 we expect to see more companies looking to maximise this previously-considered commodity and this massive amount of data. We predict there will be a surge in the use of Wi-Fi analytics as companies across all sectors identify ways in which they can tap into this data to re-order shop layouts to maximise footfall, modify staff numbers to deal with peaks and troughs or to develop targeted offers for specific demographics.
Growth of BYOD and BYOA
More and more we will see organisations allowing their employees to interact with the network the way they want to. As attracting top talent and retaining it becomes a key priority, organisations will look to introduce policies such as BYOD (bring your own device) or BYOA (bring your own app). HR and IT departments will need to develop flexible policies to facilitate this trend while also protecting the company.
A robust foundation to support new working models
At eir business solutions NI we have a long heritage of embracing technological trends including next generation networks, collaboration technologies and BYOD. And our work with the Northern Ireland Civil Services (NICS) is a shining example of converged communications; we rolled out an advanced network for the NICS that carries multiple services over one platform – voice and data traffic as well as cloud and email services. This implementation transformed NICS’s ICT platform into one of the most modern and efficient Government networks in the world.
In 2015 we’re bringing all this experience to the enterprise sector as we develop new propositions focused on managed internet and network services that will equip businesses to embrace new trends such as IoT and SDN and to further free up your IT team to deliver strategic value to your business. With eir business solutions NI as your ICT partner your organisation can fit into this new world of converged networks, flexible working models, smart use of analytics, connected devices and connected people.