Top IT Trends for 2018
We at CoreMotif have compiled a list of what we believe are to be the top technology trends in 2018. To make things relevant we’ve divided the trends into three categories, the cutting edge for those who are always one step ahead, the average Joes for those who are risk averse and prefer stability and the laggards and late bloomers for those who are recovering from reduced IT investment or poor execution abilities. The classification is more for fun than anything else, and having your initiative located in one category or another does not mean we think you are a laggard or at the cutting edge. Having said that, let’s take a look at what we at CoreMotif think are going to be the trendiest topics for 2018.
The cutting edge
Expectations are running high for Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning. Everybody and their uncle are trying to incorporate artificial intelligence into their business to facilitate efficient decision making, data processing and to discover new ways to do thing. Nearing the peak of expectations, we hope to see useful everyday applications of AI, such as better credit scoring, tailored shopping recommendations and faster business processes. Investment in fundamental technology to build A.I. solutions is booming and a number of commercial A.I. solutions and assistants have been introduced to the market. A.I. however continues to be shrouded by a cloud of mystery and practical implementations regretfully will remain out of reach but for the most skilled developers. Beware, we believe that next year at least, artificial intelligence will be better suited for automation than innovation. The technology is very well suited for classification, anomaly detection and control theory and we have still to see A.I. in the real-world tackle un-charted lands and problems that are generally not well understood beforehand.
Conversational systems and platforms will be seeing a comeback in 2018, the good old telephone answering machine has gained voice recognition abilities and deep learning has rendered conversation agents artificially-intelligent. Investment in chat-bots and voice recognition technology will be driven by the need to make service and product offerings more accessible, for example, asking Siri or Alexa to order a pizza is far easier than opening the pizza ordering app, or god forbid, phoning in and ending up in the queue. As conversational systems and platforms become more of a commodity the cutting-edge will be looking into new ways to use the technology for their benefits, deploying voice enabled self-service POS systems or interactive in-store displays you don’t need to touch to search for that perfect purchase.
Digitalization of business models
The next step of digital transformation is digital business models. Reengineering entire business models to swap out physical activities and offerings for digital ones is something that the cutting-edge crowd will be looking heavily into. The benefits of digital business models are improved customer, employee and partner experience while improving profitability, customer satisfaction and speed-to-market. Reinventing a traditional physical business as a digital one is no small feat, so make sure you use proven processes and methodologies to help you find your bearings when entering these uncharted waters.
Live analytics and business insights
As the cutting-edge crowd starts to move from traditional business intelligence, looking at what happened yesterday or long before that, we will see live data being used to configure more services and product offerings. We expect to see investments in technology for businesses to feed different data sources into their service offerings, tweaking and tailoring sales and fulfillment. This will allow them to respond to real world events such as changes in weather, competitor promotions or market changes. For example, lowering the price of fuel as the currency market or fuel market changes will benefit companies competing who has the lowest price, banks running campaigns encouraging customers to save money for summer vacations in warmer countries when there is snow outside or even applying for mortgages when a competitor raises the interest rate are all things we expect to see next year to some extent.
Internet of Things
Interconnected things are starting to pop up in the real world. Smart cities where light posts talk to each other’s, smart waste bins that operate their own waste compressors and phone home when in need of being emptied are just small examples of IoT technology breaking out from within the walls of the wealthy and tech savvy. We expect to see smarter city functionality emerge as well as businesses that rely on machinery and equipment requiring regular checkups and maintenance getting with the program. We already see some of northern Europe’s cities paving the way for others, and even smaller cities like Reykjavík catching up fast.
Honorary mention: Block chain
While block chain has been around for a while now, most businesses have failed to utilize it to any real extent. Unbundling the block chain technology from the Digital currency hype has proven problematic and tends to confuse discussions. Having a cryptographically secured distributed transaction log or ledger however is something that many companies should be able to utilize, for example bank accounts that are cryptographically secured and easily load balanced, auditing and logging. Blockchain technology, while being a foundational technology enabling innovation, will probably not drive any business model disruption, rather help drive down costs and the overhead related to complying with regulations and external controls. Beware, we believe that blockchain technology is a solution looking for a problem, and as such, can easily be showed into all the wrong places.
Digitalization of business processes
Automating business processes in its entirety, or parts of them at least, will be something that will be of interests to most average Joes. The promise of lower operating costs, higher customer satisfaction and better quality controls are very alluring. Today, tools and methods are available to everyone. Off the shelf API Gateways, Business Analytics automation, Workflow engines and integration tools are but a small part of the large tool economy available to the tech savvy. We expect to see an increase in investments related to Digitalization of business processes, but beware! Like any lean initiative, the promise of lower costs can quickly become a clear message to employees that the company does not care for them. Prepare your messaging carefully and take your cost cutting through employee turnover.
Virtualization and infrastructure modernization
Virtual machines are easier to manage, cheaper to run and provide better availability than the competition if configured correctly. The average joe has figured this out and has discovered the benefits to outsourcing. Nobody would run their own data center today if it weren’t for these custom COTS solutions that can’t easily be outsourced. But with virtualization you can migrate your datacenter to anywhere in the world, with a click of a button (not really but the potential is there).
Cloud based solutions
Cloud based solutions and SaaS have been considered a great way of reducing operational costs. The average Joes are beginning to figure out the benefits of of API’s and the economies of scale benefits to security, operations and self-service to business users.
Micro services and Service Oriented Architecture
The cutting edge has invested heavily in micro services and service oriented architectures as an enabler for their digitalization efforts. Orchestrating services and automating areas of their business that previously required a lot of manual labor has been tackled with strategic vision and plans for growth. The average Joes are drafting plans to get started with Digitalization and have discovered the necessity for service orchestration. Some investment will be spent on technical pilots, but beware, don’t neglect the architecture or governance and configuration management aspect of SOA. Without it, you may be diving head first into a bottomless pool of technical dept.
Having Development teams collaborate with Ops teams will make your technology value streams run smoother and shorten the feedback loop from the customer to the development team. We suspect we will see more investment in this area but beware of the tech-head DevOps guy, with only the technology investment and not robust processes, communication plans and accounting for the human element most DevOps initiatives are destined to fail.
Implementing lean means that the organization becomes more customer focused, a prerequisite for all of the initiative that the companies in the cutting edge are striving for. Identifying and eliminating waste will lower costs and make your employees more productive. While Lean is strictly not an IT trend, we wanted to include it here because the improvements identified by lean will drive investment in other technology initiatives.
Laggards and late bloomers
Core system upgrades
Laggards and late bloomers have neglected the necessary investment in their core system, locking in high operating costs due to maintenance as well as slow responses to changes. This will have driven a wedge between the business and IT which requires considerable resources. By investing in core system upgrades and paying back the technical debt will be an enabler to fix the IT-Business gap, helping secure investment for more ambitious initiatives.
Paying back technical debt
Technical debt is where your team’s time is spent on maintaining code or infrastructure they once installed. Running IT systems is like building a house, if all you do is build new rooms all day, eventually your employees will be fully committed to maintaining those rooms, fixing leaking roofs and cleaning. The same goes for IT systems. By paying back technical debt, either by core system modernization, upgrading technology platforms or migrating to newer applications and infrastructure, IT will gain back its speed to execute. Beware though, huge projects have a huge tendency to fail, so make sure to make smaller and more frequent installments on that technical debt. Paying it all back at the same time might drain the balance on the Karma account.
Implementing ITSM processes
Discipline and goal setting are the core of any successful enterprise. By investing in IT Service Management processes, such as ITIL your company will be able to stabilize operations and lay a solid foundation for future plans. Implementing ITSM is pretty straight forward, but the pitfalls are that in order to make it work, you need to make it part of your DNA.
The trends we have mentioned here are trends that we at CoreMotif believe will make an impact in 2018, either positive or negative depending on execution abilities, technical prowess and business acumen. What will happen in reality, time will only have to tell.
What do you think 2018 will bring with it, send us an email and tell us about it.