I recently shared my thoughts on the Top 5 business changing IT trends from 2017. Now, much like data analytics, I will pivot from reactive to predictive mode and make some forecasts for 2018.
There is so much change going on, the one thing that I can predict with the utmost confidence is that digital transformation will continue.
If I had asked my Magic 8 Ball® ten years ago if Amazon would be in the grocery business, it would have said something like, “Hazy, please ask again.” If I had asked if Netflix would be creating original content, it would have said, “Outlook not good.” But the mesh of available technology is breaking down business models everywhere—from how we develop applications, to how we deliver services, to how we process orders. Those companies looking across industries, and are agile enough to pivot, are breaking new ground and doing so at faster speeds.
Here are a few other trend predictions for 2018:
- It is decidedly so … blockchain will continue with its hype. Projects will progress in all industries (from finance to utilities to pharma) in the hope that old processes are replaced with a technology that allows a digital footprint on all transactions, and provides a better way to ensure that compromises are limited. Enthusiasts will continue to think that blockchain is the answer to everything, but the people applying blockchain to something that provides tangible business benefits—whether that’s increased quality assurance or faster and cheaper operational processes—will trigger another major disruption in at least one industry.
- You may rely on it … DevOps will rise ahead of just agile software design and development. Why? It just makes sense to be more efficient in not just the design and development of new software applications, but also the ongoing performance. This is a natural evolution. DevOps lets organizations skip ahead quickly and does not require the use of agile methods first. The expanse of technology coupled with speed and cost containment needs will make this a requirement. Agile and DevOps require good coaching and a keen understanding of business needs and processes which challenge traditional IT roles.
- Without a doubt … automated Intelligence surges. Routine tasks can be isolated and mimicked by technology and then handed over to perform instead of humans. This can be things such as inputting customer orders or accounting logs. So, the good news here is that those who hate routine and repetitive tasks can now be replaced by computers. The bad news is that some people like routine. Regardless, automated intelligence will continue to expand to new areas. Given this prediction, it should be a business imperative to reinvest in new skills, not only for the commitment to the workforce, but also for the natively human innovation and creativity that automated intelligence cannot provide.
- Signs point to yes … data is not for dummies. As more and more data becomes available for consumption, those who know how best to leverage it will gain the most advantages. While technology will unleash the data, and some tools like artificial intelligence will consume the data and spit out responses or actions, subject matter experts and analysts should be respected once again. Accessing and consuming is an important step, but doing something with this data holds all the value that will transform business process and models.
- Outlook not good ... for industry lanes. Technology and innovation is everywhere. Organizations that are looking for best practices or innovation in their own industry lane will be left in the back of the pack. A modern C-suite executive is looking across all industries, as silos are breaking down everywhere. In other words, an oil and gas company may be able to find more long-term opportunities by looking at operations and innovation in the financial services industry than at their nearest competitor.
- Very doubtful … workforce gaps close. Technology can no longer be something done in the basement or as a separate department. Business and technology continue to get woven together. As I mentioned in my previous blog, there are brand new jobs in technology, and some traditional jobs are pivoting to have more of a technology bent. While universities are setting up programs to help prepare the new working class, business is changing faster than the education system can keep up. As such, workforce gaps will continue.
Traditional technology companies are trying to pivot. For example, instead of looking for programmers in just Java or HTML, they are also looking for expertise in areas such as Raspberry Pi and blockchain. On the non-technical track of an organization, business analysts are not just looking for market trends in their industry, but they are looking at data from other industries. They are also looking for ideas about how they can work with their technology partners to automate and change their business. Hybrid business/technology analysts are a key to moving forward for any organization. Those who excel at this will be a hot commodity.
Predictions wrap up
If I were to summarize where things are going in 2018, it’s about business and technology melding closer together and across industry lines. Organizations will use technology to become more agile and quicker to respond to market needs. But the common theme throughout my predictions is that it won’t be the technology that transforms business; it will be the transformation of the people. That’s where the magic happens.
Read more about empowering the digital workforce in my colleague Craig Wallace’s new blog.