2018 IT Trends for South Africa
Every year sees the introduction and predictions of new and emerging technology trends for the coming year. This year is no different. From the creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) foundations which will undoubtedly impact global business, to intelligent applications, analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and, of course, Blockchain, 2018 is poised for the value of these technologies and developments to be fully realised.
For South Africa, adoption and immersion of these self-same technologies looks positive, however there is a risk that the uptake may fall a little behind the rest of the globe.
South African tech trends
AI is sweeping the globe and South Africa is caught up in its thrall. Many organisations are taking notice of AI and are leveraging it to improve customer service, automate interactions, streamline business processes and more. Combined with other key technology trends such as analytics and application development, AI will certainly impact the success of sales and marketing initiatives, as well as user interface development.
IoT adoption will also be fueled by AI, becoming more immersive as people seek to bring collaborative intelligence into the workplace. There will be an increased interest in the roll out of connected devices that leverage AI (intelligent things) to gain better insights and improved interactions between people and their technological environment.
Adoption of Digital Twin technology in South Africa is likely to be slow, however we will see it gaining momentum over the next few years, especially in conjunction with IoT. A digital twin is the virtual embodiment of a real-world system which, linked to that system, promotes improved understanding of its relevance and connection to the overall picture, improving response times and decision making.
A ‘tech trend’ that is of interest to the South African market, highlighted against the backdrop of the pending Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act, is Adaptive Security. Security threats and cyber-attacks have gained momentum over the past year, and the looming of PoPI makes security a concern for the entire business, and not just the IT security and risk departments.
There will certainly be a greater interest in new adaptive security technologies and methods. Having the right security technology mix, alongside and integrated with DevOps and infrastructure architecture, will enable businesses to respond quicker, be more proactive and fend against threats. This becomes especially critical as more and more South African organisations move larger parts of their operations to the cloud.
The Blockchain dominated many conversations throughout last year, as organisations explored the ways in which it can integrate with existing technology, discussed compliancy concerns, and investigated business use cases. Together with AI, this will be the year in which adoption will start having a large impact.
Exploratory projects around the Blockchain will develop into Proof of Concepts, ultimately becoming a real, tangible and integrated part of our technology landscape. The impact is set to be quick and serious, with the Blockchain evolving from buzzword to familiar component of business technology strategies and deployments.
Taking technology forward
Digital disruption is not new, however organisations will be looking for safer, more value-inducing ways to digitally transcend competition. We will see increased and improved collaboration and the rollout of technology across the entire value chain of business, with an emphasis on the integration of IT and IoT.
These trends will surpass their jargon status as we familiarise ourselves with their relevancy, impact and many uses. Organisations who have already worked them into strategies and are actively exploring or even deploying them will have a head start. However, the time for businesses who have yet to investigate how these technologies can improve and streamline operations, and maximise the profitability of their business, is now.
Quick adoption of technology and the right use case goes hand-in-hand, and South Africa may undergo a learning curve before these technologies are wholly adopted. It will be essential for businesses to assess which use cases will ensure long term, successful technology adoption, and picking the right technology partner will form a critical part of this exercise.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”