The new year typically brings out the pundits and prognosticators – and 2017 has been no different! Look at what any one of them has to say, and you’ll get one individual’s view. Look at several, and you may come away with a better sense of where the real trends are. At least that is our hypothesis, so here’s our view of the commonalities – what’s started to emerge, what’s going to evolve and what will be gaining importance in 2017.
What’s the point? This analysis might help CIOs identify where to adjust plans, shift focus, learn more, or respond to emerging trends in their own business plans. Or maybe you won’t change a thing -- and just feel good knowing you’ve got it all covered.
Let’s discuss eight trends we foresee as being essential to navigating 2017:
Business Alignment and Specialization: A Must Have
Working with business units, meeting their needs, and responding to their priorities – in other words “business alignment” - has been a top priority for four years running, according to Peter High in “CIOs’ Top Three Concerns for 2017.” Others concur and we’ve seen that as well at Worksoft, as enterprises snap up technology that helps business teams and IT collaborate and communicate more efficiently on enterprise IT projects.
Then there’s the continued growth in business-driven IT initiatives. In “A CIO Perspective: Looking Ahead at Market and Technology Trends for 2017,” Bask Iyer at VMware reports “Companies will do well to wholeheartedly embrace and incubate them.” That’s because business-driven IT projects are areas of specialization that can also be important areas of differentiation for the business. “We must identify the few things we do better than anyone else, and innovate just those things,” advises Tech Target in “2017 CIO priorities: If you do anything next year, do this” by Niel Nickolaisen.
There’s an IT Skill Shortage and Talent Gap. Really.
Information management and analytics talent is hard to find, at least according to the IBM BP Network blog “The CIO Budget Checklist for 2017.” This means you really need to make the most of the talent you already have on hand and in-house. It’s also a place where automation can play a huge role – and allow businesses and IT staff to focus on the higher value parts of their jobs.
Lianna Brinded at Business Insider recently published an attention-grabbing piece - “Automation killed 17,000 roles at a huge tech and services firm — but no one actually lost their job.” In the article, one leading IT executive said, “To be honest, automation eliminated a lot of boring and repetitive tasks for workers. Since we take the approach of augmenting [human staff] with automation, it actually has eliminated more menial work and boosted productivity for staff.”
For example, who wants to sit down at a keyboard to test the same purchase order for the sixth time during an upgrade? No one does - and we’re at the point where it’s almost embarrassing to ask people to do so. Automation helps give people their time back by liberating staff members through the elimination of manual labor and tedious high volume repetitive tasks.
Everyone Wants a Superior Customer Experience
This may seem obvious, but it’s the truth. The trick for a business is delivering it. Enterprises want every business process and customer interaction to be quick, secure, and flawless. On top of that, the level of continuous quality needs to be available at enterprise scale, which means that IT needs to bring enormous innovation to the table to enable it, a point also made in the VMware report.
It’s not a simple thing. A certain sophistication in processes, people, and platforms is required, and in 2016/2017 we’re seeing many of the world’s largest global brands take concrete steps to lock-in a superior customer experience for their businesses.
Adaptive IT and Agile: Needed Now More Than Ever
Tech Target also talks about the need for IT “to be nimble and adaptable – which usually means constantly fighting against complexity.” That’s in their article mentioned above.
Problem is, in that battle complexity always wins. Business IT is fragmenting today and complexity is growing. Business needs are driving the use of technology in many different ways on a multitude of platforms. IT needs to be able to service multiple groups of stakeholders and make their experience as seamless as possible - so that they don’t even notice the constant technology evolution going on around them.
Call it handling complexity, managing it, or coping with it. Whatever you call it, automation software will be a key infrastructure component to ensuring that business processes (and the enterprise apps to make them work) are seamlessly updated and maintained within enterprises, despite all the changes. That way you’re not fighting complexity. You’re riding it.
Analytics: A Next Big Thing Finally Arrives
In CIO.com’s “Tech Forecast 2017” Beth Stackpole writes “as companies double down on their efforts to get closer to customers, data has taken on critical importance, with analytics serving as a springboard for success.”
What’s different is that in 2017 and 2018, large enterprises will finally be making platform enhancements en masse that give those analytics a place to live and the internet-of-things (IOT) a place to go. SAP’s HANA and S/4HANA platforms, as well as those from Oracle and others, provide the in-memory real-time access that will make game changing analytics possible. Or so they’ve been saying, but this year it sounds believable. That’s based on the significantly increased number of technology upgrade/migration projects the Worksoft team has been supporting for large enterprises.
Data handling and analytics will become an important differentiator, and the way data is analyzed will be a new key to success for some companies. But firms need to move to the new enabling platforms first and quickly – just to gain a temporary advantage. And speaking of a skills shortage, skilled data analysts will be in high demand.
Cloud, Cloud, Mobile, Cloud
The CIO.com article also asserts “there’s no stopping the cloud computing juggernaut, especially as companies retool IT infrastructure for digital transformation.” We’ve observed this in the marketplace as well, and we’re glad to report that Worksoft platforms are fully cloud enabled today.
Not only that, but it’s gotten very cloudy out there. One report asks, “How many clouds does your team work on?” According to a VMblog survey, the average is 8! That’s surprising, but should it be?
The shift toward mobile and cloud computing is not slowing down. The innovation challenge is to keep every light on while making updates faster for the businesses you serve. That means managing the interconnected on-premise and hybrid cloud network of business applications in a unified, efficient way.
Influence and Innovation: Growing
In 2016 Gartner reported, “Compared to two years ago, the majority [of CIOs] feel that their power and influence are increasing.” Why? It can only be because many are hearing this from their CEOs and the rest of the C-Suite, who see the stronger-than-ever connection between business success and IT innovation.
But it’s not innovation at any cost. There are still enormous budget pressures in place. In 2017, CEOs are still asking IT to do more with less, and looking for innovation, quality, agility, and cost control – all at the same time.
Ideally, an innovative technology helps increase business agility in a highly quantifiable and specific way, while reducing costs. Automation software is a great example of this. In fact, it’s the poster child. First, it’s quantifiable and specific. Teams shorten project timelines by 40% or more since testing makes up a big chunk of IT projects. Second, its universal and big impact. Automation can be applied to nearly every project for enterprise apps. Third, test coverage expands dramatically with automation – which eliminates your team’s fear and risk in deploying frequent updates and new apps. You’ll be able to deploy more changes more frequently with greater confidence and lower cost – because you’ve replaced manual labor with digital labor.
Digital Ecosystems: Plan to Expand
The digital ecosystem is on the rise. According to Infotech’s “CIO Trends Report 2017,” companies can expect “new cost reduction strategies, ways for users to self-manage, and opportunities for collaboration on the horizon as a result of the insight gleaned from the ability not just to understand what we are doing, but how we are doing it.”
Automation and discovery platforms help here too, and we’ll talk more about new technologies for harnessing business process insight in a later article.
These are just a few of the technology changes and trends that CIOs can expect to see over the next year. What other trends have you been seeing that CIOs should take notice of in 2017? Let us know.