Testing the accuracy of our crystal ball


IDC analyses it’s 2017 ICT predictions


South Africa’s economy continues to feel the pressure of recent credit rating downgrades and further potential downgrades looming in the future. “We spoke about how tough this year was going to be at the 2017 IDC Predictions event we hosted at the end of 2016, looking back this has definitely become a reality for South Africa. With the low expected growth rate, recent credit rating downgrades and the fall of the Rand against the Dollar, we can expect hardware and imported equipment to become more expensive going forward,” Says Mark Walker, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC). He adds that this could, however, result in interesting market dynamics. “We should see an acceleration into cloud-based computing because of the increased hardware prices, as this allows companies to offset their CAPEX cost,” he says.

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In 2017, at least one major cloud provider will establish local data centre infrastructure to service the region

“We now have two,” says Jon Tullett, Research Manager of IT Services at IDC Africa. “Microsoft was the first to break cover, announcing that they will build out infrastructure in Johannesburg and Cape Town to establish a new Africa region, which is due to go live next year.  Amazon has subsequently announced that they will deploy infrastructure in the Middle East to service MEA and that will include South Africa. So, we now have two of the top-tier cloud providers actively investing in the region,” he says.

There will be a massive migration of workloads to the cloud

“We predicted that in three specific areas we would see nett new revenue being higher in the cloud than on-premise. We somewhat understated that prediction and we are now tracking about half of the software categories seeing higher nett revenue in the cloud. So, we were correct, but we could have been a little more ambitious about it,” says Tullett.

Organisations should re-evaluate their contracts and relationships with software providers

“This is definitely happening already, mostly in outsourcing, we are seeing a tremendous amount of renegotiation and a lot of pressure on service providers to change how they come to the party. It looks like a trend that’s going to settle in for the long term,” he says.

In 2017 there will be at least one high-profile breach in South Africa, most likely within the public, health or retail sectors

“Unfortunately, this is one we got right. In October this year, we saw an enormous data breach with something in the order of 60-million South African personal records leaked. It appears to have been from the Deeds Register and the data was leaked through a real estate service provider. It’s probably one of the largest breaches of its kind in the world, never mind South Africa. It was tremendously damaging, very high profile,” says Tullett. The leak took place in March, but it only came to light towards the end of the year.

Behavioural analysis and prediction will become mainstream

“This has been very interesting because it’s one we got absolutely right. There has been a tremendous number of things happening in analytics, cognitive computing and machine learning in specific vertical markets, but we’re also seeing it happening just as a commodity now. All the major cloud providers are offering cognitive capabilities baked into the platform. We’re seeing a lot of infrastructural stuff as well. So, network management, security and similar things with behavioural analytics and cognitive computing just built in as part of the product is just becoming a mainstream value.”

In 2017, non-mobile operators will start deploying low power WAN (LPWAN) IoT networks

During 2017 two major LPWAN’s were launched. One was Comsol, which is a LoRA based LPWAN that is partly funded by Convergence Partners,” says George Kalebaila,Research Director for telecommunications, media & Internet of Things at IDC. “The second one was SqwidNet, by Dark Fibre Africa, which is a SigFox LPWAN. Both networks were launched by non-mobile operators.” Vula Telematix, which is an RPMA-based IoT network was also launched, resulting in three new local IoT networks. In addition, Vodacom announced their NB-IOT network and MTN their dedicated IoT network. IDC expected most of these implementations to be LoRA based, rather than SIgFox and in the broader African context this was the case, but in South Africa, it is too early to tell.

There will be an increase in localised IoT solutions

Kalebaila says that while they were correct in the prediction it is sometimes difficult to quantify. “We’ve seen some native IoT applications from local developer communities, such as WhereIsMyTransport in Cape Town and the parking management apps available at some malls. We are also seeing a similar trend in Kenya. The only problem here is that most of these are still in pilot phase. So, while the development of localised IoT solutions is gaining momentum, it hasn’t yet reached a crescendo. That said, I am confident that next year and in 2019 we will see an increase in locally developed IoT solutions becoming commercially available.”

5G will become part of enterprise executive discussions

“Here we have to provide a bit of context. While we underestimated the interest in and hype around 5G from the mobile operators, enterprise interest has not gained as much momentum as we expected,” he says. In 2017 there were three major announcements around 5G. Comsol lead the charge, announcing the launch of a commercial pilot for 5G, followed by the announcement that Vodacom has signed a 5G memorandum of understanding with Nokia. MTN has also made a similar announcement. “Although these are not live yet, they are already stimulating conversation around 5G, more particularly around how it will affect the enterprise and IoT space. So, while we were correct about the interest and hype growing from a mobile operator perspective, we were perhaps a bit bullish about the interest and preparedness in the enterprise community,” says Kalebaila. “They’re thinking about 5G, but it’s only exploratory and has not become part of the executives’ strategic agenda. The challenges that we have around spectrum could, of course, be contributing towards this because the enterprise community is questioning why they should start talking about 5G when the spectrum issues for 4G have not yet been resolved.”

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