According to a recent roundtable event, hosted by SunGard Availability Services, it is a ‘generational change’ that is impacting how information is accessed, used and needed within organisations. The roundtable panel*, including representatives from Imperial College London, Intellect, BDO LLP and Ascencus, found that today’s young, technology-savvy and mobile-ready workforce is bringing with it new expectations for 24/7 access to core data and applications, regardless of time, location and resources.
From a business perspective, there’s now demand for more holistic approaches to availability**. Organisations today now look for complete availability solutions with a view to eliminating downtime and related exposures. It’s a significant difference; no longer relying solely upon responding to a disruption effectively, but ensuring key resources are available, all the time, regardless of the challenges.
According to Nelson Phillips, professor of strategy and organisational behaviour, Imperial College London, “The challenge comes when you consider the generational divide in many companies today. More often than not, those that hold the purse strings are also often the oldest ones, the ‘digital immigrants’ who don’t fully understand emerging technologies and the changes to business practices these bring. Research has shown that customers require increased availability from the firms they do business with. This pressure is being compounded by employee demands too. Ignorance of both the technologies and changes they bring is not an option: the question remains as to who inside each organisation should take responsibility for resolving this.”
“Consumers are not wedded to any company anymore. If one business cannot supply what they’re after, for whatever reason, they simply take custom elsewhere,” says Keith Tilley, UK&I managing director and executive vice president for Europe, SunGard Availability Services. “Information can no longer be talked about in terms of IT. For retailers it can mean having the correct stock in place, for hospitals it ensures the delivery of the right medicine. Information and data are the lifeblood of modern organisations, and this connection needs to be made to deliver the best service possible. Getting the right availability in place is essential.”
“We want to promote the UK as a technology hub for Europe. Building an infrastructure where enterprise availability can flourish will be key to driving this agenda”, comments Charles Ward, chief operating officer of Intellect. “In an era of near instant communication, a business’ reputation that could have taken decades to build is at severe risk if the importance of availability isn’t fully understood.”
“Availability is a ‘hygiene factor’; it constantly has to be maintained”, comments John Turner, IT director at accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO LLP. “The pressure to deliver continuous resources and access has always been there, but it’s increased hugely over the past 12 months. We’re now at a point where it’s not even a competitive advantage, customers expect it and you simply have to have it – especially when you’re in an industry handling sensitive data.”
Rowan Carr, head of operations at Ascensus, concludes: “Delivering availability rarely concerns your company in isolation. When relevant, don’t just think about your customers – consider your customers’ customers. If they’re happy, then this moves up the chain. Also, look closely at your network of partners, half the battle is in choosing an appropriate partner you can trust, the other half is managing that partner to get the most from the relationship.”
The roundtable discussion was inspired by ‘Delivering the Available Enterprise’ a new report by Nelson Phillips and SunGard Availability Services. With foreword by the CBI, ‘Delivering the Available Enterprise’ uncovers what availability means in the real world, sources of pressure and challenges to be overcome, and delivers a roadmap to assist any organisation in its journey towards enterprise availability.
The report draws from in-depth discussions with C-level and senior management IT decision makers across the UK, France and Nordics. Further insight was drawn from research of 450 senior IT decision-makers across the UK (250), France (100) and Nordics (100) conducted in July 2012 by Vansen Bourne: http://www.sungard.co.uk/Knowledge-Centre/White-Papers/Pages/Availability-and-the-Bottom-Line.aspx
*The roundtable panelists were:
- Keith Tilley, UK&I managing director and executive vice president for Europe, SunGard Availability Services
- Professor Nelson Phillips, professor of strategy and organisational behaviour, Imperial College London
- Charles Ward, chief operating officer, Intellect
- John Turner, IT director, BDO LLP
- Rowan Carr, head of operations, Ascensus.
** Availability is defined here as: Enterprise availability for any organisation means that its people, data and processes, and the infrastructure that connects them, are all accessible as required to support the business. It is about keeping people and information connected.
 When asked:
How have your demands for availability and accessibility to information changed in the last 5 years? 60% of customers & 55% employees answered ‘significantly increased/increased’
Do you expect to demand more or less availability and accessibility to information changed in the next 5 years? 68% of customers & 61% employees answered ‘demand significantly more/demand more’