IT

Fast tracking business growth

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The next wave of enterprise IT will see technology becoming more than simply an enabler of business, but something truly transformative that allows organisations to achieve ever-faster growth.

At the heart of this lies the concept of IT automation – a broad term describing next-generation systems that speed up the delivery of goods and services to customers, and reduce the need for human involvement across various value chains.

Automation represents a paradigm shift in business, where an organisation can achieve rapid growth in areas like customer numbers, revenue, and net profits – but without necessarily having to grow in headcount.

New automated services in the areas of IT infrastructure, applications and business process management mean companies can “do more with less”, and transform their operations to stay ahead in today’s ultra-competitive markets.

In fact, organisations across many different vertical industries can learn from examples like Amazon and Google – who made good use of automated IT solutions to achieve massive growth at a rapid pace.

Finding automated solutions to simplify clients’ operations is one of the cornerstones of Wipro’s strategy within Africa, and around the world. By leaning on its global resources and experience, the intention is to provide customised, valuable solutions at the front-end, supported by standardised environments at the back-end.

For instance, an insurance company might look to automate processes where claims are submitted by customers – including photographs or other evidence. These are uploaded securely from the customer’s mobile device, processed by the insurance company, automatically validated, and then sent as a payment instruction to the bank.

In this way, the entire process, from submitting the claim to having the funds paid into the customer’s account can be completed faster – providing the least possible disruption to a customer’s life, and creating a competitive advantage to the insurer.

Within these kinds of automated systems are principles such as remote diagnostics and self-healing – which allow applications to resolve any technical issues without human intervention.

In fact, from the very beginning of a system’s development, modules will be embedded in an application to allow for ‘self-testing’, again helping to reduce the need for manual intervention as far as possible.

The field of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications is a big area of opportunity to automate processes and generate efficiencies. M2M allows for information to be transmitted and interpreted seamlessly between different devices and systems, using (for instance) the ever-present cellular networks.

Using SIM cards similar to the ones in everyday consumer handsets, M2M can literally ‘bring to life’ an array of different types of devices and other systems – creating what is becoming known as ‘The Internet of Everything’.

Worldwide, analyst groups are expecting the M2M market to explode. Juniper Research predicts the installed base of cellular M2M devices will hit 500 million modules by 2018. Analysys Mason is predicting 2.1 billion devices by 2022.

Perhaps the boldest analyst view on the table at the moment is IDC’s forecast of an $8.9 trillion M2M market by 2020 (an astonishing 212 billion connected ‘things’).

Whichever forecast turns out to be true, it is clear that ‘The Internet of Everything’ is a reality that is already making inroads in our lives. To follow the analogy of the insurance industry, M2M has many applications in things like usage-based vehicle insurance. It allows the insurer to track driver behaviour like speeding, harsh braking and cornering, total distances covered, night-time driving, urban driving, and international driving – in order to give safer and more conservative drivers preferential premiums.

Automated technology will over time start permeating many aspects of our lives. The idea of ‘connected homes’ will link everyday appliances like fridges and dishwashers to the network via M2M technology. It allows devices to be monitored and controlled remotely. Things like smoke alarms, thermostats, sound systems, and energy efficiency systems will all converge across one network.

So in this regard, automation in corporate technology infrastructure will become increasingly natural for users to manage and interact with. IT managers that may previously have been concerned with low-level operational details can now invest their energy in the higher-value, visionary business strategies.

In fact, ‘knowledge worker automation’ tools and advanced robotics will start becoming practical realities across the organisation. Painstaking tasks involving, for instance, sifting through reams of information and synthesising the relevant aspects becomes the domain of computers rather than humans.

Taken to the next level, one can imagine dashboards where the entire business can be automatically monitored and adjusted in real-time – everything from the health of internal systems, to the changing nature of a fickle customer base, for example.

Imagine a more fluid organisation where every facet of the business is dynamically modified as real-time data feeds are analysed and predictions are made. With knowledge worker automation, this kind of predictive analysis becomes possible.

This shift also requires an organisation’s IT service provider to think differently about their role, and migrate from being simple developers and providers of IT resources, to consultative business partners.

At Wipro, for instance, we are corralling our masses of experience in various technologies across the world, to provide clients with valuable consultancy services. The roadmaps emerging from this are designed to capitalise on all available innovations – to truly transform the client’s business.

Wipro’s support framework is multi-dimensional: spanning across the application, infrastructure and security operations of an organisation. The ultimate goal is transforming the entire IT estate to leverage the benefits of innovations like knowledge worker automation and the Internet of Everything.

With automation as the cornerstone philosophy informing every aspect, this support framework can be deployed through a combination of on-premise, on-site, offshore or cloud models.

The emerging landscape of automation is broad and confusing, but with the right strategies and the right technologies, unprecedented opportunities for growth start to emerge.

Rajat Mathur

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