Organizations get more focused on the application of disruptive technologies

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Twenty years ago, pundits predicted that by 2020 huge transformations in organizations and technology would fundamentally change business as we know it. Twenty years on, the year has arrived – but has the change?

Looking back over the last decade alone, one can surmise that things have indeed changed. We have seen the notion of cloud evolve from a concept into a mainstream infrastructure alternative. The Internet of Things (IoT) has developed from a blue-sky concept focused on industrial production to a ubiquitous approach in digital assistants, smart homes and the emergence of autonomous driving. Just ask Alexa.

Then there is data. Data, data everywhere, and so much to be done with it. Although the trend was predicted, the volume was dramatically underestimated.

It is an exciting time for IT. But also an exceptionally unsettled one, as rapid evolution is the norm and change that will shape a business's destiny is coming from all directions.

Digital Not Negotiable

We have only just started digital transformation. Like cloud in its infancy, it's an over-used term, yet its definition and adoption is still evolving. Many have led with a digital-first approach to customer interaction, as well as encouraging mobility and flexibility in their workforces with digital solutions, but digital transformation is an ongoing, expanding effort for most organizations.

While consumer-led digital transformation is transforming their lives, businesses are just beginning to materially improve the working lives of employees through digital means. Consumer technology has raised the bar on what employees expect from their employers, and failing to meet these expectations, in an era of near-full employment (especially for knowledge workers), could have grave business consequences and will fuel competitive challenges and employee attrition. Digital empowerment will therefore become table stakes during 2020.

Facelift for Fintech

We are welcoming the era of “botalytics." This is a mash-up of bots and robotic process automation (RPA) and analytics. Smarter bots will start to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in everyday tasks. They will move aggressively to automate tasks, especially in Fintech. And, the evolution will allow them to take on important processes such as underwriting loans, adjudicating insurance claims, implementing actuarial and rate pricing decisions, and manage interest rate hedging programs.

This new “smart” Fintech will help firms to streamline business processes, allocating more time to allow employees to focus on creating value, rather than doing the mundane legwork that supports it.

AI and ML Fuels Cloud

These technologies will be strongly embraced by cloud vendors. Why? Because as AI fuels ML and IoT becomes more ubiquitous for consumer and business applications, the most significant challenges will be processing performance.

The vast amount of data that will be generated by these data-hungry technologies needs to be analyzed in real time. However, few organizations currently possess the IT capacity on-premise to meet this rising demand. The only organizations that have the capacity and capability will be the top cloud vendors – fueling their growth in services.

Software development for SaaS

Applications are the doorways to users, and developers are the key. But developers aren't cheap or plentiful, applications are resource-hungry and businesses want to move at the speed of now. To combat this, SaaS vendors are going to have to provide no-code, low-code integrated development environments (IDE) to complement their offerings. Failure to do so will increase the odds of falling behind.

Companies will want to avoid hiring more programmers to customize various SaaS solutions to their specific needs. Instead of developers, they will want to hire 'configurators’ to meeting the demands for real-time application development at lower cost.

Cybersecurity Evolves

Hacking is everywhere. PII, corporate espionage, municipal ransomware and even elections. Yet approaches to cybersecurity haven’t changed much, with siloed applications that are slow and unable to handle exploding data volumes from multiple sources without huge financial investments. Proprietary platforms that lock-in customers and are slow to evolve will increasingly buckle and fail.

Modern cybersecurity will incorporate more open source technology that is easily integrated, extremely dynamic and scalable, and lower cost. It will become the cornerstone to keeping ahead of the bad guys.

Ultimately, companies that do not update their approach to cybersecurity will face an increasingly existential threat. It’s that serious and will be a prime battleground of this decade.

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