Tag: enterprise technology

Gazing into Everest Group’s Crystal Ball: Enterprise Technology in 2017 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

It is that time of the year again when we channel our inner psychic about enterprise technology trends. We expect these secular technology trends to play out over 2017 and into early 2018.

  1. The beginning of scary AI democratization
    2016 seemed like the year Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its subset machine learning, turned the corner. A lot of this has been due to the cloud-enabled ease in advancing computing resources, a pre-requisite for AI/machine learning. Self-learning and “intelligent systems” give rise to a multitude of applications. Technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are leading the way through dedicated groups and high-profile hires for advancing the AI mandate. As the technology looks for sizable scale, we are going see the “democratization of AI” help broaden access to its immense potential. For example, Elon Musk’s Open AI alliance released Universe, a software platform for measuring and training an AI’s general intelligence across games, websites, and other applications. Google’s parent Alphabet is putting its entire DeepMind Lab training environment codebase on GitHub. Microsoft is also taking a multi-pronged approach to help make its AI resources available to anyone via the cloud. Although these moves are aimed at catalyzing innovation, only vendors with real skin in the game and an inherent understanding of AI’s potential stand to benefit, limiting the impact system integrators can have via the typical operating model (which is focused on incorporating the latest buzz words in pitch decks and sales collateral). While this democratization will help people accelerate the time-to-value of their AI-enabled initiatives by avoiding the heavy lifting, it will lead to a certain level of commoditization as well. Since every solution will bear the AI tag, enterprises will find it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. The AI market resembles the cloud wave from some years ago where there was a clot of “cloud-washing” versus “true cloud” implementations. Although the buzz around AI and machine learning is visible from the profile of its varied use cases – whether it is a hedge fund streamlining most of its operational tasks using algorithmic model from its employees’ brains or a law firm hiring an AI lawyer for its bankruptcy practice. Even outgoing U.S. president Barack Obama weighed in, reflecting the importance of AI in shaping our future.
  2. Conversational analytics to focus on engagement
    While conventional analytics – which sounds quite like an oxymoron – will still be viewed through the lens of reporting-descriptive-predictive-prescriptive, conversational analytics and engagement solutions will continue to receive a tremendous fillip. We have analytics engines where one can almost talk or query in human language. At an overall level, this theme represents an amalgamation of product design, natural language processing (NLP), AI, and the platform economy for the right user experience. In the consumer world, Amazon has made it a reality with the Alexa-powered Echo speaker/personal assistant, while Google is trying to replicate that through its assistant-enabled speakers. One particular use case – chat bot – is increasing exponentially, and is now beyond the realm of fancy to tangible use cases across multiple industries. While Facebook Messenger is the most mainstream (consumer-facing) example of these phenomena, there are various interesting experiments across Google (Allo), Microsoft (Tay, Xiaoice), Salesforce (NLUI Server Demo), etc. New conversational analytics offerings will take inspiration from chat bots, and also try to become context-aware for greater value tasks.
  3. SaaS mess becomes messier
    The enterprise applications market is going to witness more bloodshed as legacy and SaaS natives continue to battle it out for supremacy, further stepping on each others’ toes. While Workday leads its surge beyond the HCM domain to financial management, SAP and Oracle will put their considerable resources behind their cloud push. As these players (and others) continue to eat into each others’ pie, there will be an increase blurring of lines between segments and dilution of a unique value proposition. Also, large independent software vendors have confused the market by masking their hosted offerings as SaaS (read: more cloud-washing), which has increased the competitive intensity. Additionally, the SaaS-ification of everything has left the enterprise application landscape looking very messy. CIOs have a considerable governance and management issue when it comes to their app portfolio, upgrades, patches, visibility, usage, etc. You get a feeling that something’s gotta give, and there will be more consolidation among SaaS vendors in the race for market dominance and scale.
  4. Workplaces to move the needle on productivity versus just engagement
    The emergence of Facebook at Work and Slack, (among others), represents the true vision of what is often called the “consumerization of IT.” This refers to the confluence of consumer imperatives such as seamless user experience (UX), BYOD/CYOD convenience, and boundary-less communication within an enterprise IT framework. Digital technologies are reshaping the workplace of the future, while enterprise applications tend to be stuck in a bygone era. Slack/Facebook and their ilk aim to redefine this paradigm. Microsoft has also bought the bait, and launched Teams aka “Slack-killer” in November 2016 (selling it as a part of the Office 365 subscription suite). The focus of these changes has largely been on improving employee engagement, while focus on productivity has been diluted. We expect enterprises to focus more on productivity through differential strategies. Buyers tend to approach these policies in wide variance depending on their business and culture. Think Amazon, which abhors meetings and has a ruthless focus on execution, or Apple, which actively encourages meetings as ideation pods, coming from a culture which is obsessed with making the best products. Bringing machine learning into the mix can help coalesce people, organizational resources, and data. True that workplace collaboration and productivity seems almost unrecognizable.
  5. The automation tsunami will begin to gather speed
    Automation dominated headlines (and earnings calls) in 2016, as enterprises and their service partners alike realized the widespread implications of this technology wave. We believe that the impact on the jobs market is just starting as automation takes roots in mature people-intensive processes/functions. The short-medium kerfuffle will be focused on job losses and pricing pressures, with more pertinent questions around the fundamental nature of employment going forward. 2017 will continue to see similar headwinds, with the bulk of the bloodshed still a couple of years away. Beyond the immediate hullabaloo, the automation narrative is much more profound. While machines can already perform many forms of manual labor, the workforce needs to be reskilled/upskilled to remain relevant as the machines move toward more cognitive tasks. Contrary to popular belief, any wave of industrialization such as automation almost invariably leads to a redistribution in the profile of work, with employees focusing on higher value processes/functions. We are just getting started with the immediate pain that precedes an upward shift in the workforce. Unlike others waves of hyper industrialization, e.g., when cars were invented, there are less systemic problems for technology to solve. Riding this wave will require massive social changes in terms of organizational design, training programs, incentive structures, STEM education, demographic policies, etc.

While most of these themes are already playing out in certain shades, they will gather more wind beneath their sails as we dive into 2017. Although Niels Bohr presciently remarked that “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” we would love to hear what you have to say about enterprise technology in 2017 and beyond.

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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