What the future holds
golden quadrilateral and other projects of its ilk are reinvigorating the domestic
market. The use of IT for business will be a key differentiator for companies
that want to capitalise on this trend. by Shekhar Dasgupta
One word that best sums up the largest IT activity of the year 2004 is consolidation.
We saw consolidation in the global software, hardware and the Indian business
process outsourcing services (BPO) industries. This consolidation will result
in better products, better service and therefore better choices for the customer
in the long run globally as well as in India. Last year, we also saw the
launch of Data Hubs. These help organisations consolidate their data and information
about customers or citizens and the financial status of a business. Moreover,
we saw the emergence of technologies such as Grid Computing that help an organisation
consolidate and optimise returns from its IT infrastructure.
2005: Information as the differentiator
In 2005, IT will need to cater to changing needs of customers. A definite reflection
of this lies in the new, evolved approach to what has traditionally been known
as Supply Chain Management (SCM). Businesses are now realising that they need
to be able to assess emerging customer needs long before the procurement of
raw material or the production cycle for sets of goods and services. Therefore,
they expect more from their IT infrastructure.
The expectation from the IT Infrastructure is to accurately assess demand and
adjust the supply chain accordingly. Therefore, traditional SCM has evolved
into DDSN or the Demand Driven Supply Network. The biggest factor in a successful
DDSN implementation is accurate and high quality information about customers,
about the market and the business. In 2005, we will see 'Information' emerging
as the differentiator for businesses. The success of a business will be directly
proportional to the amount and quality of information that organisation's business
managers have and the informed decisions that they take based upon available
That is only possible through a consolidation of existing structured and unstructured
information within an organisation. Data Hubs and Service Oriented Architectures
built with the help of the universally-accepted Business Process Execution Language
(BPEL), which essentially helps companies get a consolidated view of information,
will become important IT tools for business managers.
In 2005, we will also see IT infrastructure being used to increase business
transparency. International norms in corporate governance will be adopted through
the better use of IT infrastructure. Here again, accurate and up-to-date information
will be key. Businesses will modify and restructure their IT infrastructure
to capture and consolidate information across their operations. Furthermore,
the demand for real-time information in banking and financial services companies,
in government bodies dispensing services to citizen such as income tax and utilities,
and the services sector in general, will dictate the use of a consolidated information
architecture in a greater number of Indian organisations.
The launch of the industry associationEnterprise Grid Allianceearlier
this year, brought like-minded people in the world of grid computing together.
As a technology, grid computing has been proven and should see widespread adoption
in 2005. The Oracle Grid Index, a research study conducted by European research
agency Quocirca, to measure commitment to grid computing across 609 companies
in Europe, showed that thought leaders especially those in retail, financial
services and utility companies were committed to using grid computing. We will
see this effect trickling into the Asia Pacific region during 2005. Thought
leaders in this region, including India, will start to explore the efficiencies
and cost effectiveness offered by grid computing.
In India, one IT service that has acquired critical mass is the adoption of
hosted infrastructure services by enterprises. We saw some big decisions taken
for 'on demand' or 'IT infrastructure outsourcing' services by Bank of India
and Bharti Telecom. We will surely see more outsourcing taking place in 2005.
As India integrates further into the WTO regime, there are two emerging opportunities
opening up for the IT industry. The first involves the 7,500 small and medium
sized companies in India. These companies operate in the automotive or auto
ancillary, pharmaceutical, textile and agriculture-based or dairy products vertical
segments. Global business options are opening up for these companies. They will
be looking at IT to give them a competitive edge in the global market. The second
sector that holds a lot of promise, especially with renewed government thrust,
is the rural market. The slow and sure opening of rural markets will change
the way large companies do business in the domestic market. This reinvigorated
market will demand business changes that can be delivered by an efficient, robust
and integrated IT infrastructure.
All in all, the phase of consolidation that started in 2004
will continue in 2005. This year will also see a more integrated global marketplace.
Whether India betters its position in that market or not will depend on how
many Indian companies emerge as thought leaders by adopting cutting edge technology.
Shekhar Dasgupta is the Managing Director of Oracle India.