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CIOs fear they aren’t ready

New research announced this week by EMC reveals a concern among CIOs that their current IT infrastructure and the skills of their IT professionals may not be enough to meet long-term needs as technology becomes embedded across the business.

The findings indicate that three-quarters of CIOs believe that five years from now they will need to be able to launch new products, services and applications in half the time it takes them today. 41 percent say that extracting value from ever greater volumes of data is the top IT challenge facing the business, with 37 percent expecting this to still be the top challenge in 2019.  Ranked second in 2016 is the need to accommodate business unpredictability and the associated demands for rapid scaling.  By 2019 this is expected to be replaced by the challenge – and opportunity – of enabling real-time business operations.

However, the study reveals that many CIOs are concerned that their company will struggle to overcome these challenges and harness these opportunities. Two-thirds (69 percent) worry that business growth will reveal weaknesses in traditional IT operations and infrastructure and could lead to IT inhibiting rather than enabling innovation in the organisation if they do not have the right infrastructure or tools.

This point is not lost on CIOs and their business colleagues and many are taking active steps to address the situation. For example, 80 percent of the leaders surveyed feel that implementing a more advanced and agile IT infrastructure would reduce risk and complexity and provide a solid platform for future growth. Further, nearly half are already training IT professionals in skills including converged infrastructure, cloud computing and business skills.

The research, which surveyed over 2700 business and IT professionals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, suggests that in many organisations CIOs are at risk of isolation. They can find it hard to manage the challenges of steadily rising expectations for IT, interference from colleagues in other roles and a lack of common ground with the rest of the C-suite.

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Recognition of the value and potential of IT increases measurably with company size: companies with 1,000 or more employees demonstrate few of these concerns, and are also far more likely to have introduced a modern IT infrastructure and invested in skills.

The study also reveals that in many smaller organisations the power over technology decision-making is left in the hands of other parts of the business. According to 39 percent of the professionals surveyed, in their company the IT agenda is set by functions other than IT and business, for example marketing (11 percent) and sales (10 percent).  This disconnect is seen in the boardroom, with 58 percent of CIOs convinced they have overall control over IT, while just 14 percent of business CxOs agree with them.

Nigel Moulton, EMEA CTO at VCE, the Converged Platforms Division of EMC commented: “The research casts new light on current attitudes towards IT within businesses of all sizes. To reclaim full control, CIOs and their IT teams need to stop spending so much time building and managing different infrastructure components.  Instead they need to transform IT into an efficient business-focused engine that can scale rapidly in response to changing business needs. This demands a modern data center.  One way of achieving is by implementing a robust, software-defined, converged infrastructure.  Convergence can power more agile development and increased speed to market, addressing directly some of the top IT challenges identified.”

Barry Cashman, Vice President, EMEA, VCE, the Converged Platform Division of EMC, adds: “A powerful infrastructure will deliver the high performance, scalability and agility the business needs. Too much effort is still spent simply keeping the operational lights on, when the business needs to focus on developing and releasing new, value-added products and services.   IT needs to be free to focus on meeting business goals. A converged infrastructure will enable it to do so.”

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3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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