What's in store for IT outsourcing in 2012?

The global economy is creating an atmosphere of uncertainty in the IT outsourcing sector, but what should we expect in 2012?

This time last year there was a little more confidence about growth in the economy following the carnage left by the credit crunch. But hope has quickly changed into despair and the Euro crisis could push parts of the world back into recession.

Even the Chinese economy is growing at a much slower rate as European customers of its manufactured products tighten the belt.

So it is now time for your predictions.

Do you think there will be an increase as businesses outsource to cut costs?

Could more innovative outsourcing plans be put on hold until the economic outlook becomes clearer?

Will 2012 be the year that cloud computing finds its place in the outsourcing sector?

Please send me your predictions by leaving a comment.

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If 2011 was the year of the cloud, with increasing adoption across the market, then 2012 will see the technology move into its awkward adolescent years - and like any growing solution, it will be difficult to keep under control. Critical for 2012 is that cloud services can operate within a hybrid architectural environment, and deliver truly enterprise-class services. To realise this, the outsourcing industry will begin to adopt a cloud orchestration approach.

Cloud orchestration requires the deployment of tools and processes which can operate across the multiple methods of provision – and providers – in a typical hybrid environment. At the heart of an orchestration approach is an automated service which can affect the actions required in cloud management. For example, monitoring usage, scaling and provisioning; managing events and triggering actions such as approval processes. To be an effective orchestrator, the service needs to be able to operate in a consistent fashion across the myriad of cloud providers and traditional fixed architectures which exist – and therefore must be a service disaggregated from the underlying provision of cloud infrastructure in order to manage services consistently across multiple cloud and physical environments.

As we enter 2012 I believe there are four market trends which our customers have to consider to ensure they’re ready for the rapidly changing working environment — mobility; social computing; cloud computing; and big data/advanced analytics.

All four of these technologies are being harnessed to greatly improve business opportunities. For example, taking a retailer’s perspective, almost all customers now have mobile devices that they take everywhere and use to browse and buy products, as well as keeping an eye out for special offers. Cloud computing will enable closer connections to these customers, and as a result a retailer will be constantly collecting information about customer behaviour. In order to effectively make use of these high volumes of data (big data) organisations will need storage and business intelligence tools to manage it properly. It is crucial for IT departments to change their “delivery and operations” mindset to be a sustainable agent for innovation and change, particularly around the way big data about customers is captured and analysed.

Collaboration and adoption of virtualisation technologies will be key this year in allowing organisations to create competitive differentia¬tion and establish more innovative ways of working. Employees of the millennial generation need to have the same experience at work that they enjoy at home. Until now, the technology they experience at home on a Sunday night has often been more advanced than what they use at work on a Monday morning, meaning they have actually had to take a step back when entering the workplace. The combination of millennial workers and new technologies means that the virtualised and globalised enterprise is now a reality. While globalisation is not a new phenomenon, it is now reaching into almost every aspect of business and businesses need to be ready to embrace it.

Sanjiv Gossain

Head of UK & Ireland