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How digital centralisation has changed

Michael Snow
IT centralisation is a fairly straightforward idea: a company brings together the IT systems of all its departments in order to save costs, improve security, facilitate data management and make administration easier. BYOD (bring your own device to work) has also pushed some companies towards centralisation. A centralised approach can promote the sharing of best practice and streamline relationships with suppliers and clients who may have previously dealt with the different IT set-ups of two branches of the same organisation.

But it’s in the consumer sphere that we’re really seeing a rise in centralisation. We’re all used to carrying around our smartphones and opening various apps for different things (to check the weather, maybe, or find directions) but the idea of one place to manage all our daily IT needs is gaining ground. Alexa and Google Home are undoubtedly the start of this process. 

But conversely, technology now allows communities or brands to challenge the idea of centralisation – outside IT, you might see this in localised energy supply (and even human-body-powered wearables). Perhaps the biggest area of decentralisation, though, is cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology allows users to “mine” bitcoins from a public ledger, unregulated by a traditional bank or authority. Rather than ignore these developments, financial institutions will probably want to get in on the action, which could in fact simplify banking’s existing internal systems and therefore save money. If financial records become accessible in a public ledger, imagine the transformation that could occur for example in mortgage applications: instead of having to unearth three months’ worth of payslips and bank statements, your potential lender could call up your records instantly.

The Internet of Things will also benefit from blockchain tech, as small transactions in peer-to-peer systems become more easily executable. Blockchain may also prove useful in cybersecurity, offering a non-traditional approach to cyber protection.

Back in the business world, critics of centralisation suggest that it places barriers in the way of a company’s ability to be agile or indeed to respond in a timely fashion to changing business needs. In addition, if demand for certain aspects of IT rises and the centralised, streamlined team doesn’t have the capacity to meet this, then delays will become a part of daily business processes and performance across the company (and perhaps reputation) will be compromised. 

Perhaps the canny organisation will succeed by adopting certain aspects of centralisation while keeping an eye on the benefits and rise of decentralisation-enabling technology.

Read our related blog:
Blockchain – is it the future?
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