If business operators within the Information and Communication Technology sector believed 2012 to be a competitive and challenging year, then they better prepare themselves for an even more active and vibrant time in 2013.

Advanced information systems, social networking and mobility, together, will represent the epicentre of business next year.

Data management and data services will emerge as the frontline of commercial activity as more sectors continue to invest in communications infrastructure to secure competitive advantage.

With the increase in focus on data and strategic utilisation, particularly big data analytics to promote and help position business, there will be renewed appreciation for security and more cost effective ways to secure networks.

Big data analytics will play an increasingly important role in defining and shaping the commercial landscape. This will not be the hunting ground of larger enterprises exclusively – 2013 will be the year of the small-to-medium-sized company.

Security, reliability and cost efficiency will be the trademarks of adequate service provision going forward. With the advent of advanced managed ICT services and specialist, high-tech skills sets, the decision maker has at his or her disposal a number of management options.

Today there are several options available to managers in terms of how they want to apply their technical resources, as well as maintain and sustain these resources. The traditional outsource/co-source and in-source models still hold – but the significance of cloud based service will continue to escalate.

The cloud is opening up the market on a number of levels – and there is no reason to expect the situation to change. Aside from the continued rollout of cloud-based offerings, there will be an increase in awareness of the cloud model and what this means for business.

We believe this to be constructive for the industry – the more awareness there is of technology, the more chance there is that inadequate services and ill-equipped service providers can be weeded out of the system.

In addition to the powerful role that social networks will have on business – and the growth of converged industries such as mobile payments/ mobile payment services – 2013 will be known for being the year of machine-to-machine technology and services.

This will emerge as one of the key industries, one that will attract operators and services. This will add a further dimension to an increasingly mature industry.

Technology has been – and will continue to remain a foundation sector for the country’s economy. South Africa, being one of the BRICS nations, is expected to entrench itself as a central region in Africa from an ICT and telecommunications point of view.