As the recession bites, enterprises are rethinking their 2009 IT budgets. Fortunately, most are still sold on the value of technology and will continue to invest in order to boost business.
While we can’t predict the impact of the recession, one thing is certain: companies will continue to drive the quest for value, favouring solutions that will improve efficiencies without large upfront costs.
With cost efficiency high on the agenda, I foresee three technologies that will continue to gain ground in 2009.
Unified Communications and Collaboration
The need for anytime-anywhere connectivity will remain, despite prevailing economic conditions. Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) gives enterprises the ability to enhance internal and external communications by consolidating voice and other services onto standard data networks, thereby providing IT managers with an innovative way to reduce operating expenses. We will also see the demand for UCC continue after the recession lifts, not only because businesses will be convinced of its benefits after trying it out, but because it is also a more environmentally friendly way of communicating.
People are no longer interested in operating systems and hardware platforms for computing and networking, but rather in how they can get simple, reliable and secure access anytime and anywhere to the services that drive their business. The biggest draw of UCC in these uncertain times is its ability to help enterprises realise significant savings on travel, IDD and dedicated point-to-point connectivity costs through secure, cost-effective, IP-based connectivity. By removing barriers in communication and collaboration between teams and individuals, UCC will ultimately increase business agility and response times, and facilitate business innovation – traits enterprises need in both good and bad times.
Asia’s demand for multimedia services will continue to increase in 2009 as users in emerging broadband markets such as India and China begin demanding faster access to the internet. Elsewhere in Asia, new property developments in both commercial and residential sectors will continue to make provision for speedier broadband access in order to support the need of well-heeled and IT-savvy professionals. The hive of building activity means that the demand for fibre optic technologies that can reach homes and offices to deliver scalable, high-bandwidth, interactive multimedia services can only go up in line with government-based nationwide fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.
In the service provider sector, new battle lines will be drawn as commercial and residential development managers start to lease wholesale bandwidth and content, creating new real estate revenue streams by offering interactive multimedia services themselves.
All these will drive the demand for simple reliable and cost-effective ways of enabling large-scale interactive multimedia content delivery using point-to-multipoint passive optical networks based on Ethernet.
Faster, more secure wireless
With mobile devices becoming more pervasive, these technologies will enable high user-volumes, increased bandwidth voice services and seamless roaming. Additionally, industry-specific services, like RFID asset tracking, will become important for businesses and consumers.
The 802.11n wi-fi protocol expected to be finalised in 2009 will be instrumental in enabling all these capabilities, and I expect technologies based on the protocol that are already available to be explored and deployed liberally throughout Asia Pacific in the coming year. Uptake is likely to be especially fast in verticals like logistics, manufacturing and retail, which can immediately leverage advanced 802.11n wireless connectivity to provide high-performance and reliable wireless control and tracking solutions. Because the growth and survival of these industries depend on service efficiency, solutions that will help them continue to deliver good value despite prevailing economic conditions will be high on their priority list.
Without a doubt, 2009 will be a challenging year for enterprises of all sizes. The good news is, there are technologies that can be leveraged to help drive unprecedented efficiencies without creating a significant dent in operational budgets. This will help organisations create market differentiation and tide themselves over until the global economy recovers.
Grant Howe is the Country Manager of 3Com Australia & New Zealand. In previous roles he has been National Sales Manager for GlobalConnect and Channel Director for Avaya. His career includes several sales and management appointments across the technology industry.
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