Cloud Services Adoption in Asia-Pacific

It's the time of year when most business technology market research and consulting companies release their predictions for the new year. In its annual outlook for 2010, IDC predicts the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) spending and growth in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) region will reach $184 billion -- with a 7.7% growth over this year.

IDC predicts most growth will come from India and China, although all countries are expected to experience varying degrees of growth.

"While budgets are still tight, and the buying patterns may have changed irrevocably from what the ICT industry has been accustomed to, the fact remains that there is cautious optimism in the market with some interesting pockets of surprising growth," said Simon Piff, Head of IDC's Asia-Pacific Predictions Committee for 2010.

The net result of the economic slowdown has been an overarching change in how and why companies make new business technology investments.

Proven Technologies Ready for Adoption
IDC foresees projects that generate immediate ROI and tangible improvements in managerial and operational efficiencies will continue to be the ones that garner quick executive buy-in.

The key enabling technologies for 2010 are not necessarily new, as much as they are a more mature and robust implementation of proven solutions that have been available for a while.

Cloud Computing, last year's emerging focus area, will move from being merely a buzzword to a deployment reality -- as service providers address the challenges of providing managed cloud services and organizations realize the flexibility that these solutions can provide.

In fact, cloud services ranks number one on the “Top Ten key IDC predictions that will shape the ICT industry in APEJ in 2010.”

The Maturing of Cloud Services
According to IDC's assessment, service level agreement (SLA) options will improve. They believe that the combination of five-nines performance guarantees -- plus robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) capabilities -- will be the compelling new adoption momentum that accelerates cloud service growth.

In 2010, the large organizations that are ready to deploy managed cloud services will do so, demanding the same SLAs with BCDR capabilities.

IDC's annual predictions for ICT includes the latest research results from their 1000+ analysts. This insight was followed by an extensive regional review to weigh in on key industry events, typical user characteristics, vendor strategies and economic measures, that help define the technology trends which would impact and drive the ICT market in the Asia-Pacific region for 2010.

Better Way for SMBs to Collaborate Online

Do you know, is there a better way for businesses to meet online, present projects, and share calendars and ideas anytime, from anywhere? Are you ready to share your experience?

Small- and medium-sized business owners can compete for a chance to win up to $2,000 in a reward card and a free consultation with marketing expert Guy Kawasaki -- by entering The Better Way Challenge.

The challenge, a video contest presented by Verizon and Cisco, is designed to encourage businesses to use new collaborative tools to maintain their competitive edge in a fast-changing environment.

"Innovation and technology will power us out of this recession," said Kawasaki. "The Better Way Challenge enables entrepreneurs to share their victories and defeats, tips and tricks, joys and pains of running a business. Online collaboration and social media can generate business, and these videos will accelerate the learning process for entrepreneurs and business owners."

Entering the Contest is Easy
Just submit a video of less than three minutes that describes "the most challenging part of getting your whole team on the same page."

Contest participants must either be subscribers to the Verizon Collaboration Center, located at the Verizon Small Business Center, or they may sign up for a free 30-day trial. Entrants whose videos are accepted for judging in the contest will also receive additional free six-month subscriptions.

In addition, any business that signs up for the free 30-day trial subscription will automatically be entered into a monthly drawing for a chance to win a Flip Mino HD Camcorder. As many as 90 camcorders will be given away during the six-month promotion.

Profiling Advanced Collaboration in Action
A panel of judges will select three contest finalists, based on the originality and relevance of their videos. The grand-prize winner will receive their free consultation with Kawasaki via Cisco TelePresence.

The second-and third-prize winners will each receive a reward card for $1,000 and one-on-one consultations with industry experts from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group -- which designs innovative processes and strategic plans for businesses.

All three consultations will be tailored to the specific business needs of the winners and focus on ways in which collaboration and online resources can make their businesses more efficient and competitive.

Monte Beck, Verizon's vice president for small-business product strategy, said, "Small businesses need a lot more than e-mail and Internet access to stay competitive. They need to move fast and utilize tools like the Verizon Collaboration Center that can help them grow their businesses, run them more efficiently and, reduce the cost of doing business."

The Verizon Collaboration Center, powered by Cisco WebEx, offers voice and Web conferencing. It enables users to instantly and effectively collaborate with colleagues, clients and vendors in a virtual environment that is accessible from any web browser.

Business Technology Leader Maturity Framework

As 2009 comes to a close, a recent editorial in CIO magazine sums-up a nagging issue -- "Despite the emergence of improved IT management tools over the past decade, CIOs continue to grapple with the same IT challenges they dealt with five and even 10 years ago. Which can make a CEO wonder: when are we going to get there?"

Forrester Research believes that CIOs have typically run "the tech factory" for their firms -- responding to business needs with solutions and operations from both internal and external sources. These IT leaders have pursued operational maturity to optimize solution delivery.

Forrester says that CIOs won't ever get away from delivering on operational maturity. But as technology becomes pervasive -- more stable, standardized, and available as a business-centric service -- it's inevitable that business executives will take greater direct control over technology investment decisions.

Forrester calls this evolutionary transition the shift from Information Technology (IT) to Business Technology (BT). Let's review the key drivers of this transition once more. It's the essential "there" destination that many CEOs eagerly anticipate for their organization.

Greater Response to Business Demand
Traditional IT establishes prioritization criteria and IT governance processes. Weighed down by growing legacy maintenance, typically a third of IT spending is reserved for new projects. IT therefore creates conflict among business organizations -- who must lobby for those limited IT resources.

Broader Focus on Business Value
IT should help deliver business results, yet it's often consumed by technical issues -- re-educating staff, deciding what to re-architect, and debating whether to build or out-task. Meanwhile, new capabilities are increasingly available through managed cloud services -- and purchased directly by business groups via software-as-a-service.

Significantly Faster Pace of Change
The rate of business change continues to accelerate, forcing CIOs to be reactive -- while attempting to increase agility. The CIO's dilemma: either their business organizations will move ahead without internal IT, or, their business executives will fail to take full advantage of new technologies in time to use them effectively.

Framework for the Required Transformation
To help CIOs understand best practices, Forrester has developed a BT Leadership Maturity framework in the form of a self-assessment. This tool is designed to provide a candid benchmark of how well they are performing -- highlighting specific areas where additional work needs to be done.

Forrester concludes that CIOs who fail to move quickly will find their firm falling behind more agile competition. Those who assess and improve their organization's BT leadership maturity are responding to changing market realities -- as well as reducing the likely chaos that would result from allowing the business to move forward on its own with BT, without the CIO's close involvement.