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In many ways 2013 has been a pivotal year for businesses: the UK economy entered its first truly stable period of growth in over five years and organisations are now becoming far more optimistic about the future. Technology trends such as cloud computing, big data and mobility have become mainstream, with businesses realising that investment in IT infrastructure is no longer a necessary evil but an effective tool for growth.
As organisations begin to see the benefits of All -Time™ availability – both in improving staff effectiveness and in offering the highest level of service for customers, 2013 was an important year for us here at SunGard Availability Services. Before we get too deep into 2014, we wanted to reflect on some of the highlights of 2013.
Bringing Availability to All Areas of the Market
No matter what market sector, business availability now plays a key role. Of the numerous customer wins we’ve had last year we felt that one stood out in particular: Serco, an international services provider, signed an agreement with us last year as it sought to refresh its IT estate and take advantage of the benefits that our cloud-based managed services can provide. Partnering with SunGard Availability Services has allowed the company to focus its time and resources on improving its range of products and applications instead of merely running IT systems, ensuring that availability is always at the forefront.
This win also reflected SunGard’s deeper portfolio beyond our recovery heritage, with Analyst Dr Katy Ring at the 451 Group commenting, "This contract win illustrates the extent to which SunGard has become an outcome-driven IT infrastructure service provider, managing contracts via a number of KPIs tied to the customer organization's business goals." Thus positioning our work with Serco as a way of clearly forging ahead, not only with our identity around availability services, but in broadening market understanding as to what availability in the wider sense entails
Speaking of our five year agreement with Serco, Keith Tilley, EVP EMEA & APAC, commented, “This agreement reinforces our belief at SunGard that giving customers a tailored approach is key to gaining trust as a technology partner. As the partner of choice, we understand the flexibility required and the approach organisations like Serco need to take in order to ensure they are entrusting their IT assets to someone they know will invest in the partnership”.
Increasing Our Understanding of Business Priorities
In 2013 we carried out two pieces of enlightening research. In July we revealed that UK businesses were putting plans for IT transformation at the top of their list in a bid to increase competitiveness and offer greater capacity for business growth. After spending the last five years in a state of uncertainty, the findings showed that the majority of organisations are now looking to refresh their technology estates within the next 36 months, with 49 per cent of respondents stating demands for flexible and mobile working policies were pushing the need for a change in IT requirements.
Six months on and our latest research campaign seems to echo this sentiment. 97 per cent of UK business decision makers believe closer alignment between individual business departments and the IT function will yield a competitive advantage. In addition, nearly 70 per cent felt it could offer greater efficiency, and over half believe it would provide improved organisational flexibility.
The need to deliver All-time™ availability to the enterprise is not only driving technology investment in business but is shaping the boardroom strategy.
Developing Business Solutions to Enable All-Time Availability
We introduced our cloud-based business continuity management tool, SunGard AssuranceCM, to the European market, with roll-out set to occur across 2014. The tool offers businesses a real-time overview of their entire organisation to help identify possible issues and weaknesses. The software interface has been made as intuitive as possible (‘Facebook easy’, no less) to offer a full visualisation of the plans helping to encourage a wide user base and allow inputs from all areas of the company. Taking advantage of its cloud platform, the programme can be accessed from any device and any location, customised for individual businesses and doesn’t require any level of specialist training.
Strengthening our Core Team
As part of our commitment to offering the best possible service across the continent we appointed John Stevenson to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer in Europe. John brings invaluable experience in working with global organisations and will undoubtedly play a vital role as we help businesses remain competitive, resilient and available all year round.
Finally, it was a great year for Keith Tilley. Not only did he celebrate his 35th year with the company, but his role as Executive Vice President for EMEA has now been extended into the APAC region. Keith is now responsible for over 3,000 customers as well as the strategic development within these emerging markets. This is a rapidly growing geography for SunGard, and we now offer over 1,000 dedicated recovery positions and 230 shared recovery positions across India, located in the regions of Noida, Mumbai and Chennai. We’re also looking at Pune and Bangalore for future locations. Keith has also been tasked with ensuring the continued development of our Managed Infrastructure and Hosting Services, Managed Recovery Programme and global Enterprise Cloud products.
As we look ahead to the rest of 2014, let’s keep in mind the key trends Keith Tilley identified in our earlier blog post. In particular, watch this space for how we examine the changing role of the CIO as businesses call for grater collaboration across the C-suite.