Brave new world
By 2020, we are expected to have 30 billion electronic devices serving a planet of 8 billion people.
Cloud computing, Big Data and the consumerisation of technology have created a new generation of digital natives with enhanced expectations of IT. These expectations are now permeating the world of enterprise technology and creating a "New Style of IT," one which pushes organisations to find fresh ways of advancing their business and improving customer loyalty.
This "New Style of IT" is potentially both a boon and a burden to the business sector.
In theory the commercial benefits are astronomical. The proliferation of mobile devices is allowing brands to reach their customers anywhere and at any time from the convenience of their pockets and handbags. Big Data enables companies to better understand what their clients want and create the ... intuitive, individualised and instantly accessible services which will ensure long-term loyalty to those brands. And finally, the advent of cloud computing is providing the raw processing power to both make sense of this deluge of data and absorb the boom in digital demand encouraged by the proliferation of cheap consumer devices. Phew!
So what's the catch? The inconvenient truth is that the billions of users and devices all around the world accessing, downloading and using applications require a server infrastructure working behind the scenes which is capable of delivering the speedy and seamless service levels users expect. And these servers won't build or power themselves. Indeed last month a statistic emerged that if data centres continue at today's rate of power consumption (i.e. without expanding), by 2020 the world will be unable to meet their electricity demands l. If businesses had a fiscal and regulatory carte blanche (and the planet boasted an inexhaustible trove of natural resources), then all would be well, but the fact is that in today's environment, businesses are being squeezed from all angles. The global recession, out of which only certain parts of Europe are now gradually emerging, has placed a hefty premium on any kind of operating or capital expense. CFOs are under enormous pressure to demonstrate the ROI of any significant outlay and augmenting a company's IT infrastructure or R&D budget is not always the easiest sell to an increasingly risk-averse board.
With great power comes great responsibility
Add to that what some have dubbed the "energy crisis" and you begin to get an inkling of the dilemma. As costs have risen and shortages have loomed, the size of organisations' energy footprints have become the province of regulators. UK companies, for instance, are now subject to the 2008 Climate Change Act, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020. On 1st October 2013, all UK-quoted companies will also be required to report on their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their annual Directors' Report.
Despite these constraints, consumer expectations of the digital services they receive have, if anything, increased. They want timely, tailored and...