Digital transformation is the catchphrase of the moment, yet only few are setting out to start it. Disruption is still at play: companies are getting to envision their strategies, but nearly half of them haven't even embarked on implementation.
As many non-tech businesses now have to deal with information technologies to build up their competitive differentiation, many heads are turned to the current trends that have been shaping the tech market lately. That said, not only do brands follow the buzz, but web application development companies and platform providers also tune in to be able to meet today’s needs with state-of-the-art solutions.
The following is a snapshot of the IT disruptions that were making companies re-imagine their strategies in 2016.
Cloud computing gets mature
In 2016, more than ever, on-premises software became a thing of the past as cloud was leading among the biggest disruptive technologies (BT CIO Report, 2016). By now, though, businesses have mostly come to terms with how pervasive and more reliable it is becoming. Security is no longer the primary concern as cloud providers are learning to guarantee stronger data protection, and the cloud’s grand promise to reduce both risks and overhead costs lures in more adopters.
The stats also show that hybrid cloud was gaining ground, with 71% of the respondents utilizing both public and private clouds (RightScale 2016 the State of the Cloud report). It becomes an increasingly acceptable way of building up IT infrastructures, with various combinations of multiple clouds (6 on average) per enterprise organization.
Mobile drives digital inclusion
Enterprise mobility was on the agenda for mid-sized and large companies as over a billion of workers worldwide took to their devices to get more productive both in the office and in the field. From human resources management to operational tasks, enterprise apps were set to add another dimension to working routines by taking only the best of desktop systems.
On a consumer side, industry-specific apps for smartphones and, now, wearables are transforming how we interact with retailers, healthcare providers and banks, most notably. For B2C brands, this is the key to omni-channel, seamless customer experience that is both a challenge and an extra competitive advantage in this age of the customer, especially as it is largely represented by mobile-savvy millennials. Augmented reality and location-based, context-specific marketing are also winning their share of attention from businesses, which is not in the least encouraged by the coming of IoT.
Data transforms competition
Data is on CIOs’ minds this year, closing the top 3 disruptive technologies cited by BT. For many, it has become a source of competitiveness: depending on how well businesses understand their customers’ behavior and personas, they are able to grow their share of wallet. With this, real-time data becomes an essential requirement, where every transaction should be processed at a lightning speed: communications, billing, support, you name it.
With real-time data comes real-time data analytics, and this is where companies are still having hard time up to the point of creating the new role of Chief Data Officer to lead the strategy. It’s also about the quality of data, not only its quantity. Enterprises are looking to bring together and clean disparate data silos in massive master data management projects that span multiple corporate systems. Such strategic moves are expected to prepare for better, faultless customer relationship management and, therefore, more dynamic business development on the whole.
Internet of Things is bursting
Though many early adopters are still figuring out their IoT strategies, they have come to realize the potential of this brand new channel. This is where we will be seeing much innovation: according to IDC, the worldwide IoT marketing is estimated to hit $1.7 trillion by 2020 with 25 billion connected devices by the same year.
Businesses are looking to benefit from higher efficiency and lower production and management costs. The areas with high IoT adoption cover retail, public transportation, water and energy consumption management, remote healthcare, connected homes, field service and supply chain management, among others. At the same time, IoT platform providers, system integrators and custom software development vendors are working on their value proposition to help both B2B and B2C players go through the turbulence of IoT adoption.
Information security should extend to… everywhere
Cloud, enterprise BYOD policies, and a growing number of interconnected devices make it now an imperative to protect data at the scale unimaginable before. Threats are evolving, and there is still the question if security measures can keep up. Only last year, US companies reported over $1 bn in losses from cybercrimes (Statista).
Re-evaluation of information security becomes a must. From reimagining security infrastructures to enforcing such ‘softer’ aspects as corporate data security policies, this will become a matter of compliance for many, and of brand reputation for all. While companies are strengthening their internal security awareness, they start to rely on security outsourcing, including security-as-a-service providers that set to deliver a new level of cloud-based protection and replace traditional infrastructures that are becoming obsolete.
Line-of-business takes on a new meaning
Enterprises seem to be no longer interested in adding yet another obscure IT system to their infrastructure. What they’re really looking for is building up a solid core of line-of-business applications that can support mission-critical functions. Be it end-to-end management of customer relationships, human resources, content, or collaboration, making these applications interconnected, seamless and scalable is the challenge both for enterprises and their technology partners such as custom software development vendors.
2017 is likely to bring a greater understanding of how to put theory into practice with measurable business impact. The trends that are only starting to play out on a global scale (like IoT, virtual reality and artificial intelligence) will gain their real-life success stories. Infrastructures will increasingly move to the cloud, setting new standards for the speed and reliability of data processing. The demand will produce new talent, especially in the areas of connectivity and data analytics. And hopefully, the word disruption will come to pass along with all the frustrations it’s been causing for digital contenders for the last couple of years.
By John Barnett, Project Coordinator at Iflexion