In economics, it’s called the supply-demand equation. And from experience, we know that when that equation gets out of balance, one way or another, bad things tend to happen sooner or later.
Now there’s new evidence that the supply-demand equation in the world of networked applications for businesses is tipping dangerously in the direction of demand greatly exceeding supply. Thus, end users’ frustration with business applications is rising rapidly too.
That’s the picture painted by a recent study done by independent research firm Vanson Bourne. The “Killer Apps 2013” study showed that companies this year are spending far more on upgrading their networks and systems than at any time since the 2008 financial markets collapse. Yet more than half – 54 percent – are reporting that performance issues continue to rise despite the network and systems upgrades. Most of those growing number of issues fall into the categories of “slower response times” and “non-responsiveness.”
Business-Critical Apps Are Suffering
Unfortunately, according to the study, the apps most impacted by slowing response times and non-responsiveness are those most critical to business, apps such as Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Resource Planning. Sophisticated Unified Communications programs also are being increasingly handicapped by slow response times and outright unresponsiveness. That’s based on the survey responses of 650 chief information officers and IT decision makers at companies in the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
So the trend is clear. Despite significantly increased spending on corporate IT infrastructure and applications, a majority of companies are experiencing more, not less, application performance degradation. In economic terms, that means demand for the highly specific data that can be drawn out of those networks by the newest and best applications available now is exceeding those networks’ and applications’ abilities to produce such data in a timely and cost-efficient way.
In more blunt terms, it means that the fast growth in demand for so-called “Big Data” is beginning to swamp business networks’ and applications’ ability to meet that demand.
How IT Managed Services Can Help
So what can be done about it?
Obviously, lots of companies are already on the IT spending bandwagon. That’s a good thing, and a necessary one. Indeed, most companies will need to continue making hearty investments in their networks, systems and applications for the foreseeable future.
But simply throwing money at the issue won’t necessarily produce the most optimum result, as the recent surge in IT spending at a majority of companies already is showing.
Thus, not only is it important for most companies to continue spending more on IT in the coming years, they must also spend that money wisely to get the best short- and mid-term performance gains from all that additional spending. And since most small and midsize businesses lack both the numbers of technologists and the broad expertise needed to make such decisions on their own, that means most will need to rely on managed IT services vendors and IT consultants for guidance.
Getting such wise counsel is important because, at most businesses, data capacity or bandwidth requirements are growing by at least 10 percent annually. (Some are reporting bandwidth growth demands as high as 40 percent a year.) Even for large companies with well-staffed and sophisticated IT departments, it’s difficult to accurately forecast what such unprecedented growth in bandwidth demand will require just two years out, let alone five or 10 years down the road. So it’s nearly impossible for most small and midsize companies to make such predictions with any degree of accuracy.
Thus, the core message of the Killer Apps 2013 study is that the job of IT capacity and capability planning is getting more, not less, difficult. As companies big and small scramble to glean Big Data from their IT systems, networks and applications, they increasingly will need to rely on the counsel of experts who understand how the data supply/demand equation has gotten out of balance and, more importantly, how to get it back in balance – even as data demands grow bigger and more sophisticated.