The year 2010 holds all the promise of a glitzy, ribbon-adorned gift - none of us quite know what we’re going to find when we unwrap it, but it sure looks like we’re going to like it. Even the sports-averse are being swept up in the excitement as the descent of the soccer greats to our shores for a “little bit of footy” nears. If, however, you are one of the few who are uninterested, then the promise of an easing in economic conditions should have you miming Orphan Annie singing “The sun will come out tomorrow”.
As 2009 prepares to be swept away and filed under Annus Horribilis, we asked local IT managers what technologies they expect to attract the most attention in the New Year. For South African Reserve Bank CIO, Tau Mashigo, it is the re-emergence of the ‘intelligence’ arena – with more focus on acceptable reality as opposed to reckless guesswork – which holds much interest.
“A sentiment exists that the global financial crises was largely aided or, more appropriately, enabled by reliance on information generated from systems supporting financial models. This is a little unfair as financial instruments are required to deal with many variables and, therefore, their outcomes bear a large degree of probability rather than certainty. The problem was these probabilities were given undue weight within the decision-making process.
“I expect we will see a strong drive to employ far more caution in using intelligence to determine execution. Nevertheless, BI, applied more sensibly, will re-emerge as a healer and provide a platform for sustainable progress within enterprises, with optimally adjusted risk appetites.”
Another popular train of thought puts virtualisation at centre stage in 2010. Conrad Strydom, senior IT Manager at Interwaste, says that as the recession comes to a close, and business is able to throw a little more money at IT, CIOs are most likely going to pounce on the opportunity to roll out virtualisation strategies.
“The reason is simple: the RoI on the more mature areas of virtualisation is well tested,” he comments. Increased implementation of virtualisation projects will also pave the way for the ‘virtual office’ to finally see some real action. Morkel du Preez, information systems manager at African Defence Systems, says that cloud computing and increased functionality in mobile devices means that knowledge workers will finally have the ability to access data anywhere in the world.
“Lack of true real-time data and application access has always held back the roll-out of the virtual office. We are already using public iterations of cloud computing with GMail and the like so the psychological barriers to entry have been lowered significantly. Once companies bring cloud computing into the business we will see considerable increases in the effectiveness of corporate mobility. Knowledge workers will not need to be tied to desks or networks, they will be able to sit anywhere in the world and work exactly as they would in the office,” he says.
Royal Sechaba Holdings’ group IT manager Willie Arnoldi agrees, pointing to the amount of development around mobile devices. “What we need to support the uptake is greater communication and marketing around functionality aimed at senior business people. This way both sides of the boardroom table will buy in to the possibilities.”
The final word, unfortunately, goes to the topic that has dominated government, business and consumers alike: telecommunications.
Jorge Nunes, IT manager at BKS, notes that the potential of technology to transform business is still severely hampered by South Africa’s broadband prices. “If the telecoms sector comes to the party in 2010, providing good bandwidth at good prices, then the sky’s the limit. If we continue with communication prices at well above the international norm, then the local business environment will have to continue scraping to get a fraction of the technology value the global community has.”