Enterprise Technology 2016: What Will and Won’t Happen| Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Now that the dust has settled from the New Year frenzy, it is a good time to channel our inner psychic and do some crystal ball gazing about enterprise technology trends. Following are the technology trends that we see playing out in 2016 and into early 2017.

  1. Customer centricity and UX are king

The fundamental disruption being caused by consumerization of the enterprise IT has profound implications on how organizations approach the user experience (UX). As consumers’ expectations and benchmarks for next-generation channels evolve, UX is key in enabling the digital mandate. This translates into an enhanced focus on superior design, collecting data (user behavior, regional preferences, A/B testing, and demographic information), and personalizing content. Design coupled with the appropriate tracking/monitoring will be crucial in driving meaningful engagement through a personalized UX. While global technology providers have generally lagged in bringing UX and design thinking into solutions, this is changing. Whether it is Accenture (per its 2013 acquisition of Fjord), Infosys (with AiKiDo, its next generation services in Design Thinking), or Wipro (via its 2015 acquisition of Designit,) service providers have started looking outside their organizational set ups to develop these capabilities through M&As, acqui-hiring and setting up separate business units, often outside their P&L play.

  1. Open APIs to catalyze innovation

 Numerous examples of unlocking barriers to provide open access to APIs to catalyze innovation, gain developer trust, and accelerate the pace of use-case creation emerged in 2015. For instance, in September IBM acquired StrongLoop, a provider of popular application development software (enterprise Node.js) that enables software developers to build applications using APIs. In November, IBM launched API Harmony with cloud-based API matchmaking technology for developers. It also opened up access to IBM Watson’s cloud-based API. In an attempt to woo developers, Salesforce announced App Cloud, which integrates its existing Force, Heroku Enterprise, and Lightning services to create an interactive learning environment for “citizen developers” creating Salesforce apps. Apigee, a company that helps organizations build and manage API connectors, went public in April 2015, and its revenues and margins are performing well. It has also witnessed traction with large enterprises such as AT&T, Bechtel, Sears, and Walgreens, to name a few. Given how crucial APIs are to advancing innovation and enhancing the digital experience, we’ll see many more technology companies jump on the open API bandwagon.

  1. DevOps, ITOps, NoOps, and ShadowOps, will continue to slug it out

The emergence of new operating paradigms continues to transform IT operations. DevOps, the latest, promises quick and reliable unified development and operations to meet business needs. Then there’s conventional ITOps, and NoOps, an extension of DevOps wherein developers take over all responsibility for processes such as architecture design, capacity planning, performance optimization, etc. In the absence of a clear winner in 2016, there will continue to be various shades of these methodologies in place across various industries/organizations, depending on maturity of IT set up, specific needs, business constraints, regulatory requirement, etc. DevOps adoption will continue to struggle to move beyond lip service as organizations grapple with challenges related to change management, restructuring, talent, and governance to manage complex IT environments.

Read our previous take on DevOps

  1. IoT – Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

The conversation about the Internet of Things (IoT) will move beyond just sensors and connected devices. We have already begun to see the emergence of new business models such as Printing-as-a-Service, Home Automation-as-a-Service, Blood Tests-as-a-Service, Transport-as-a-Service, etc. IoT and the connected world have made these individual products into continuously evolving prototypes that can be enhanced through over the air updates, thereby introducing new features. Connecting various disparate products will lead to improved analytics and, therefore, better forecasting and customer experience, highlighting new possibilities for IoT-based value creation.

  1. Security: CISOs step up to the plate

It is time for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to take their place in the sun. After years of CIOs treating security as a hygiene checklist item, recent high-profile data breaches and global cyber warfare have placed the spotlight firmly on cybersecurity. Our digital services research indicates that 70 percent of enterprises believe cybersecurity is a major concern in their digital journey. Cybersecurity initiatives also rank as the second most important among digital enablement priorities. In the single biggest affirmation of this change, the White House announced on 9 February, 2016, that it is seeking to hire its first Federal Chief Information Security Officer as a part of a new Cybersecurity National Action Plan. As security takes a seat on the board, enterprises will start treating cyber risk at par with financial risks. CISOs should see budget approvals getting easier as they look to revamp cybersecurity preparedness, enhance audit and governance controls, and shift the focus from prevention to mitigation. Security will gain a more prominent place in public discourse in the context of 2016 U.S. presidential elections (you may recall that attackers targeted both presidential candidates’ websites and emails during the 2008 and 2012 elections.)

Enterprises need to take a hard-nosed look at their technology spend and realize that the walls between business and IT need to break down. All aspects of IT – application development, maintenance, testing/QA, infrastructure – are getting aligned to specific business outcomes for greater visibility, predictable demand, enhanced governance, risk mitigation, and audit control.

These themes are already sweeping the global technology landscape, and will only gather steam as the year progresses. We would love to hear what you have to say about enterprise technology in 2016, and beyond.

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