For the past ten years, the major IT initiative within Chinese organizations has been service oriented and/or process driven architecture. The pace of change has been slow for two reasons: 1) From an end user perspective, related business requirements are not clear or of high priority; 2) more importantly, solutions providers have not been ready to embrace technology innovation and meet emerging technology requirements through new business models.
Times are changing. IBM and other major ISV/SI in China (as well as end users) are driving momentum around emerging technology, such as cloud and enterprise mobility. I recently attended the IBM Technical Summit 2013 in Beijing from July 11 to 12. Here’s what I learned:
Telecom carriers supported by technology vendors will accelerate cloud adoption by SME. Contributing to more than 60% of total GDP in China, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have always sought to simplify their IT operation as much as possible, and at the same time scale it up when business expands as quickly as possible. IaaS solutions appear to be a perfect match for SMEs; however IT professionals have concerns about the security and data privacy over the operations by other companies.
I recently took some holiday leave and saw two small, but clear examples of where mobility changes the economics of IT. The first was in a restaurant where the wait staff used their own smartphones and a simple order taking app. There was no expensive mobile platform for the restaurant to purchase in order to use this system. There was no expensive training program in place to teach the employees how to use the software. They simply bring along their own phone, download a free app to their device and start working.
The software is intuitive enough that any training required is done by their fellow staff members during shifts. What’s interesting about this example is that using mobile devices for taking restaurant orders isn’t new – but using employees own devices is. Previously, the expense incurred by restaurants having to purchase proprietary devices meant that only high margin operations could afford to use mobile order taking systems. And loss, theft or damage of the devices was not only expensive but also proved to be a sticking point for employer/employee relations.
The second example provides a sharp contrast. It involved a trip to a museum and the use of the audio commentary service. Though almost every visitor to the museum now has a smart phone device, an old proprietary hand held device was still in use there. This is an expensive option to operate for a low-margin business like a museum. There are now museums that have recognised this and offer apps on smart phones with capabilities well beyond what the previous dedicated hardware could provide. One such museum is the American Museum of Natural History. It not only uses the rich visual interface of the smart phone, along with the required basic audio commentary services, but it also reportedly helps the user navigate the complex campus using sophisticated wi-fi triangulation.