It's been well-chronicled that analysts, IoT vendors and other big-vision people expect that we'll see anywhere from 25 billion to 75 billion connected devices in operation on the planet by the year 2020. That works out to about four devices per person.
Likewise, the ascent in the number of interconnected enterprises is also jetting quickly up and to the right. Makes sense; we're going to need a heck of a lot more tech infrastructure to support all those gadgets, and the Internet of things (IoT) is going to play even heavier into all of this.
Equinix Inc., a global interconnection and data center company that is deeply interested in metrics like these, unveiled on Oct. 13 the findings of its "Enterprise of the Future" survey, which uncovered a rapidly accelerating global demand for interconnection that will make IT decision-makers rethink strategies over the next two years.
Interconnection in this context is defined as direct, secure physical or virtual connections between a company and its partners, customers and employees—as what takes place in a private or hybrid cloud infrastructure plus an external Website or sites. It also would include cloud-to-cloud interconnections among these entities.
'Everything is Shifting Toward the User'
"This was really looking at where do firms need to go, based on digital disruption," Tony Bishop, vice president of global vertical strategy and marketing at Equinix, told eWEEK. "And based on digital disruption, what's setting their business drivers? It also looks at where the gaps are in their digital technology, so they can plug them and succeed in the digital world.
"Everything has shifted toward the user, toward real time and toward the ubiquitous cloud; so we wanted to know how this all converges and what does it force businesses to do."
In processing the priorities and perspectives of more than 1,000 IT decision-makers in 14 countries, the survey revealed noteworthy movement toward the adoption of interconnection-dependent IT strategies by enterprises seeking to drive revenue growth. For example, 84 percent of IT leaders surveyed said that by 2017 they will deploy IT infrastructure where interconnection is at the core. Only 38 percent are doing this now.
Business models now are increasingly interdependent, and both consumers and employees consider anytime, anywhere, any device connectivity the standard. Organizational expansion, ubiquitous user access and the sourcing of external business and IT services to cloud-based providers are forcing enterprises to maintain more points of engagement with more end users and business partners.
Existing IT architectures were not built to support this level of dynamic engagement and distributed coverage. The "Enterprise of the Future" survey indicates that enterprises are in the midst of a strategic and behavioral shift away from centralized corporate environments to distributed, interconnection-centric IT infrastructures.
About 60 percent of respondents told researchers that interconnection with employees, partners and customers is "very important" to their company's ability to compete. Nearly half of the companies surveyed are currently pursuing direct connections to cloud platforms, with the vast majority (about 80 percent) seeing this as a critical need to address within five years.
Interconnected Enterprises Seeing Good Value
Notably, of the enterprises already deploying interconnection strategies, more than one-third are reaping a total value of more than $10 million from revenue gains and cost savings, Equinix said.
--The No. 1 revenue growth strategy, cited by nearly 69 percent of respondents, is deploying infrastructures to support new product offerings.
--Other essential interconnection-driven strategies include creating new channels or systems of engagement between the enterprise and its customers, partners and employees; deploying infrastructures in new geographies; and embedding or distributing intelligence (analytics, data, content) across locations.
--Multi-cloud interconnectivity is a prominent worldwide business strategy, with 86 percent of the companies planning to interconnect to multiple clouds across multiple locations over the next five years.
--Security, as it nearly always does, topped the list of enterprise IT concerns, with 64 percent of respondents reporting that security worries could drive them to consider re-architecting their IT infrastructure over the next 12 months.
The full report, "The Enterprise of the Future: Unleashing the Interconnected Enterprise," is available for download here.