Seven ICT Challenges in 2014

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Every year about this time, research houses make their New Year’s predictions. Not wanting to be left out, Frost and Sullivan weighed in on the near term future of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. The research house actually sees a tough year ahead, with many ICT providers having trouble just keeping their market share.

Overall the seven predictions seem right on the mark, and in fact dovetail nicely with TMC’s market coverage.

The top prediction is that Microsoft Lync will become even more of a powerhouse. “Although still a relatively new player in Unified Communications with a low market share, Microsoft has been gaining momentum in the last 12 months and has grown enough to pose a threat to the traditional UC vendors,” the researchers said. “IT integrators that used to sell only traditional telephony solutions are now incorporating Microsoft Lync into their product mix. Lync 2013 offers close to 95 per cent PBX functionality, and the adoption of Lync may prove to be a natural progression for companies using Active Directory, SharePoint and Microsoft e-mail.”

In a past life this reporter covered Lync extensively and interviewed dozens of customers. While Microsoft doesn’t give it the hype of an Xbox or Surface, customers see Lync as a game changer, and for many the tool has revolutionized the very way they do business.

TMC on Lync

Mobile Revolution

Up second is a no-brainer, that mobile is changing everything and forcing shops to take control of BYOD. “While the device itself is one part of the equation, greater challenges lie in how to manage apps, how to control which apps should be allowed and disallowed from employees’ devices,” the company argued. “Given the sheer volume of devices and applications being used by employees, security is critical for every organization and specialist Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors and security vendors will play crucial roles.”

TMC on Mobile

Making Sense of M2M

TMC has been all over this notion of the Internet of Things, an idea basically encapsulated by machine-to-machine communication (M2M). Frost is likewise enthralled, and predicts that by 2020 there will be nearly 80 billion connected devices. “M2M is growing rapidly, and we will see rapid growth in the number of devices with smart sensors, RFID tags and other intelligent input and output automated sensory systems, enabling high level connectivity between machines, devices and individuals,” Frost said. “This will lead to innovation in how services are delivered in industries such as Healthcare, Automotive, Logistics, Transportation, Retail and Mining. Frost & Sullivan believes that the impact of IT on multiple industries will become increasingly pronounced over the next year.”

TMC on M2M

Rise of the Telcos

Prediction number four is that telcos will play a larger role in ICT delivery. “With Cloud and mobility driving significant change within businesses, the role of telecommunications service providers will become more prominent,” the analysts argued. “Frost and Sullivan believes that telecommunication vendors will ramp up their service offerings across Cloud, mobility, managed hosting, contact centers and enterprise communication services.”

Uncanny UCaaS

Similar to the Lync prediction, Frost believes the market is moving towards Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS).

“As organizations come to the end of the life cycle of their telephony and other UC technologies, many are either returning to a traditional on-premises UC solution or moving to a hosted or cloud-based UC solution. Vendors and integrators that do not develop hosted or Cloud-based offerings will find it increasingly difficult to compete in the UC market in 2014,” Frost believes.

TMC on UC

WebRTC Takes Root

WebRTC, which TMC writers and execs talk about all the time, is also on Frost’s radar.

“It is still early days for WebRTC (Web Real-time Communication), but Frost and Sullivan predicts this technology will really take off in the enterprise communications market,” the company believes. “Vendors, channels and telcos may already be starting to discuss potential adoption. From a Unified Communications and contact center market perspective, there are still questions about how rich the features will be in terms of multimedia capabilities, and how scalable the solution will be.”

TMC's WebRTC Event

Amazing Amazon and Galloping Google

Finally, the researchers see Amazon and Google taking on more traditional ICT companies. “Although Google’s penetration into the enterprise communications space is currently well behind traditional vendors, Google has all the right pieces in place to now make significant inroads into the voice and video markets,” Frost said.

Meanwhile, “Amazon Web Services will continue to grow in 2014. Although many companies will continue to buy servers and storage from the likes of HP, IBM and Dell, a growing number of organizations now feel comfortable with buying servers and storage in the Cloud for a fraction of the cost of on-premises storage.”

TMC on Cloud Hosting

IDC Has a Different Take

IDC recently made its ICT predictions which are decidedly different from Frost and Sullivan. Here IDC focuses on what it calls Third Platform. This platform consists of four pieces, cloud services, big data and analytics, mobile and social networking.

“The Third Platform's impact was felt throughout the ICT industry in 2013 as a high-profile CEO lost his job, a major IT player went private, numerous vendors endured cash cow stagnation and billion-dollar bets were placed on Third Platform technologies,” said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at IDC. “In 2014, we'll see every major player make big investments to scale up cloud, mobile, and big data capabilities, and fiercely battle for the hearts and minds of the developers who will create the solutions driving the next two decades of IT spending.

Outside the IT industry, Third Platform technologies will play a leading role in the disruption (or “Amazoning”) of almost every other industry on the planet.

This Third Platform is going to help drive IT spending, which IDC sees as rising 5 percent to hit $2.1 trillion next year. Third Platform technologies, meanwhile, will grow 15 percent.




Edited by Cassandra Tucker

TechZone360 Editor at Large

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