As the late, great baseball coach Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
It’s especially difficult in the IT industry, where the pace of technology is so fast, things can change almost overnight.
But, if you ask the right questions, you can get pretty close.
Equinix has been doing just that with a brand new Enterprise of the Future survey (EOF), designed to get a picture of the key factors that will transform IT strategies over the next two years. Studying the priorities and perspectives of more than 1,000 IT decision makers across 14 countries, including 300 from APAC, the survey was especially revealing when it comes to interconnectivity.
That’s important because interconnection has always been the key to the success of any technology and the people that use it. Take the telephone for example. One device is an engineering curiosity. But interconnect a few thousand of them, and you have the start of a communications revolution and an infinity of new business opportunities.
For Equinix, Interconnection means the ability to establish direct, secure, physical or virtual connections between an enterprise and its partners, customers and employees. And, in our increasingly connected world – where businesses rely on each other to create value – interconnection is becoming a critical driver of revenue growth.
According to the EOF survey, globally, the number of interconnected enterprises is expected to more than double by 2017 – up from 38% to 84%. In Australia, Hong Kong and Japan it will triple, as businesses embrace interconnection-dependent IT strategies to accelerate growth.
That data is all the more exciting because it echoes something Equinix has been saying for years. Interconnection is one of the fastest ways for businesses and entire economies to generate value. More than one-third of survey respondents reported creating more than US$10 million in new value through interconnection initiatives.
An Asia Pacific Perspective
The EOF survey also highlighted global and regional priorities. Globally, revenue growth was the top IT priority, with more than 40% of respondents putting at the head of their lists.
Looking specifically at interconnection, an encouraging fact is the majority of APAC respondents were very familiar with the concept, but the uptake of implementing interconnection tells a different story.
The global average for firms that have implemented an interconnection strategy already stands at 15%, although a larger number (23%) are in the process of doing so by working with a partner.
The picture in Asia Pacific is far from uniform, with the level of maturity varying considerably from country to country. The usually tech-savvy Hong Kong sits at the bottom of the enterprise interconnection table with only 4% of firms having implemented it and just 20% in the process. Australia ranks slightly higher, with 5% implemented, but lower terms of ongoing projects (18%). In Japan, the numbers are dead even, with 14% having implemented and the same amount on the way.
The most surprising result may well be Mainland China, where a hefty 24% of firms surveyed reported having rolled out interconnection initiatives, and even more (28%) are in the process of doing so, reflecting our rapidly-expanding work with companies such as Tencent, ChinaCache and Alibaba. However, it could soon be overtaken by Singapore, where 14% of surveyed firms reported implementing interconnection, but a whopping 32% are presently in the process of making it happen.
Focussed on the future
One thing is clear. The future is going to be an interesting place, and in many ways fundamentally different from today.
While much of the current interconnection strategy is aimed at connecting to “a cloud,” the EOF survey shows that in the next five years the real opportunities will lie in establishing full interconnections to “multiple clouds.” In Asia-Pacific, 24% of Hong Kong firms, 30% in Japan, 37% in Australia, 40% in Mainland China and 42% in Singapore expect to enjoy multi-cloud capability.
In fact, connecting to multi-cloud is already happening, especially among companies located in Equinix IBX data centers, where the process of connecting to multiple clouds is straightforward thanks to the recently launched Equinix Cloud Exchange.
Of course there are also hurdles and technology barriers that could hinder the proliferation of interconnection. Some 61% of firms globally reported concerns over system uptime, although this was lower for most Asian locations, and lowest of all in Hong Kong (40%). The cost of scaling worried just over half of firms globally (56%), with Singapore showing the most concern in Asia (66%) and Australia appearing a little more laid back at 48%.
To address these issues, enterprises need to upgrade their existing IT architectures from corporate-centric to interconnection-centric. And the good thing is majority of enterprises surveyed have expressed intention to work with a partner in order to build an Interconnection-Oriented Architecture where they can securely connect people to multiple clouds and deliver data in real-time across ever-widening locations worldwide.
In the long run, it looks like Yogi got it right when he said “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
It will definitely be different. It will be interconnected!