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The future of IT services: building a better nation through innovation?

The IT service industry continues to evolve at pace
The IT service industry continues to evolve at pace
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As the IT services industry stands at the crossroads of change, what are the key trends and innovations that will drive this sector over the coming months and years? Who will be the biggest winners and losers, and what is the role that innovation has to play in helping society at large? We spoke to Steve Mitchener, UK CEO of NTT DATA, to discover the answers to these questions and more.

TechRadar Pro: What are the main technological trends and innovations that are driving the IT outsourcing market in the UK today?

Steve Mitchener: Cloud technology offers companies the ability to develop new business models and fundamentally change the way they consume technology services. Companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft have disrupted the market, creating increased competition and forcing the traditional players, such as IBM and HP, to reinvent themselves in order to compete effectively.

The multiple different delivery models, such as Paas and Saas, whether public, private or hybrid cloud scenarios, can all be combined, competitively priced and packaged as an alternative to running their own expensive and less flexible data centres or to committing to long-term, typically less flexible outsourcing contracts.

Despite this, the adoption of cloud by some big companies has been slower than first heralded and concerns about data security have been exacerbated by the Snowden affair, and the likes of the iCloud spillage. However, the impact of cloud computing on the outsourcing market can't be ignored. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all slashing prices and improving data encryption, which will undoubtedly drive increased market penetration.

TRP: Which vertical sectors will be particularly key to driving growth in the IT services industry in the coming months and years?

SM: I'd expect to see continued growth across the board in the IT services industry moving forward. However, I have no doubt that some sectors will benefit more than others, with the banking, insurance, telecommunications and public sectors likely to benefit more than most.

Growth in these sectors will be driven by a number of factors. In the banking and insurance sectors, growth in IT services will largely be driven by governance and regulatory compliance. Growth in telecommunications, meanwhile, will largely come from customer acquisition and retention, as well as operational streamlining, while digital transformation and operational efficiencies will aid growth in the public sector.

TRP: How important is the role innovation has to play beyond the realm of business, and how can it be used to create a 'greater good' in society?

SM: Innovation has a pivotal role to play in tackling some of the issues faced by society head-on. I've seen first-hand examples of how it can change social infrastructure and act as a real force for good in society. For example, advanced 3D mapping techniques are now able to provide unprecedented detail of the world's landmass, capturing undulations in the ground with a height accuracy of 5 metres. This could play a critical role in helping to tackle some of the issues created by rising seas and climate change.

Innovation can also be used to tackle the problem of a rapidly ageing population and the rise of dementia. Sensors have been developed that can be used to monitor the health and independent living of elderly people within their home or residence, and which can alert carers or medical authorities to emergency situations. At both local and global level, there's no doubt that innovation can be viewed as an important tool for helping to create a 'greater good'.

TRP: As the age of the so-called 'mega-deal' in UK IT outsourcing fades, to what extent do you think that building long-term relationships is becoming more of a key consideration than total contract value?

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.