TeamQuest’s Jason King says the drive for better data intelligence and IT infrastructure is creating new opportunities
The use and storage of data is becoming ever more vital to business operations. Few know this better than Jason King, managing director of international operations for US-based TeamQuest, which provides strategic advice and solutions for IT capacity planning, management and operations. We talk to him about the key issues affecting the industry and what kind of roles are being created for IT workers.
What are the most obvious trends in the industry?
We are seeing an ever-increasing drive to make IT infrastructure more efficient and to create tighter connections between the IT and business-planning functions. Companies used to agree on a forward plan and then just hand it to their IT team. Now, they recognise the importance of close collaboration and understand the cost savings to be made by doing things properly and effectively. It has taken time to sink in. IT people’s inability to articulate their value has been part of the problem, but that is also changing now as they get better at showing just what they can bring to the table.
What else will be happening in 2016?
In general, this will be a pivotal year, with spending on IT infrastructure in Asia-Pacific likely to outgrow the level of investment in the United States and Europe. Cloud adoption has started for large enterprises, but they have to take account of differing parameters, as well as the financial implications and timing for how and when to make it happen. There is a whole new set of decisions to be made as the need for doing IT operations on your own premises shifts to a different, more mature model.
Crucially, businesses are also seeing that if you store and use data more intelligently, it helps to improve security management.
What usually triggers a change of strategy?
It often happens when companies realise how much they can glean from the data their IT team is sitting on. For instance, this might be used to target marketing campaigns more precisely, sharpen cost planning, or anything else which makes for greater efficiency at department level and in project assignments.
Can you give a specific example?
If a company like Verizon is releasing a new smartphone, they could have a quarter of a million customers hitting the “activate” button at around the same time. They have to figure out ways to deal with all the data coming in and how to handle it. With the help of detailed analysis and capacity management planning, they can understand all the “what ifs” and may find they need only 25 per cent of the estimated extra capacity. That means they won’t set their selling price unnecessarily high.
What is the secret to doing this well?
To provide solutions, a company like ours needs access to the right information from the customer and their predictions about future business scenarios. With a bank, for instance, sensitive commercial data is obviously out of bounds and not required. Then, we use our own software – sophisticated algorithms – to create simulations for different types and levels of information.
There are some “standard” solutions, but really no two cases are the same. It is about adapting processes, planning for “just in time” circumstances, understanding risk and compliance, and making provision for changes.
When called in, what do you look at first?
The three basic aims are to improve latency, mitigate financial risk, and reduce costs. We start by doing a comprehensive real-time performance analysis, which covers everything from applications to servers and storage capacity. When requirements are established and agreed, we then provide the right tools and skills for customers to analyse, predict, manage and measure their data more accurately in what we assume will be a highly dynamic business environment.
Within the sector, what types of roles are being created?
Overall, people tend to fall into one of two groups. First there are the solutions experts, who find ways to make better use of existing data and to automate workflows. For this area, it is possible to train anyone who has some sort of IT skills.
Then there are the business analysts who work with the customer to determine what can or should be reorganised. They assess the client’s existing infrastructure and recommend necessary changes, with a view to enhancing robustness and agility. This is more difficult. It involves shadowing someone and learning on the job, and good candidates are harder to find.
What are your company’s current objectives?
We have just established a Hong Kong office and have big plans for further expansion in the region. We also have a presence in Singapore, and partners have been lined up in India and Australia.
For us, it is the right time to come to this part of the world, bringing a value proposition which makes good sense for clients and creating job opportunities for locally based talent.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Greater connections.