10 Technologies That CIOs Must Watch in 2018
10 Technologies That CIOs Must Watch in 2018
Introduction “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Leon C. Megginson
In a recent report, Forrester states, “There has not been a time when technology has had a more profound impact on customer experience and revenue performance. By the sheer force of nature, this places CIOs and technology front and center.” It’s true. We’re going through a time of rapid technological change. Many of these changes are poised to signifi cantly impact the business world. The question facing modern CIOs: What side of history will your organization be on? Will you be the disruptor or the disrupted? We’ve seen it time and time again. New companies take advantage of modern technology and disrupt entire industries. Just think of Netfl ix and Blockbuster. Or Amazon and bookstores. Or Uber and the taxi industry.
The list could go on. The fact is, these technological changes create opportunities for those who look for them. The most successful CIOs and IT leaders are those who recognize and capitalize on these changing technologies. This begs the question: What technologies will have the biggest impact on business in 2018? What technologies must CIOs closely monitor in the near future? In this paper, we’ll explore 10 technologies poised to play a huge role in the business world in 2018 (and beyond).
1. Artificial Intelligence
“The most important technology that CIOs won’t be able to ignore (not even if they try to) in 2018 is artifi cial intelligence. AI will dominate the tech scene with its software revolution,” says Nick Chandi, the CEO of SlickPie Accounting Software. “A considerable chunk of the workload performed on computers will be delegated to bots. This will bring direct impact on all sorts of industries such as accounting, bookkeeping, legal, and even writing. This will affect companies of all sizes and the access to such technology will become rather affordable. If AI-driven vehicles are still a few years away, software bots will hit the mainstream big time in 2018 and will change many landscapes.” AI isn’t a new technology by any means, but we’re fi nally seeing widespread business applications. From marketing to IT to HR and everything in between, AI will impact all aspects of your organization.
How can AI change your business? While the list could be much longer, Artifi cial Intelligence can help with:
–Cybersecurity: It will help companies predict and prevent cybersecurity attacks before they happen. –
-Analytics: It can take your analytics past historical reporting, and into the predictive realm.
– Marketing: AI will take marketing personalization to a whole new level. Those are just examples, but the potential uses of AI are too many to even list. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. AI is a technology you can’t afford to ignore in 2018.
With the rise of container technology, we’re seeing the growth of container orchestration engines. While there are a few to choose from, Kubernetes is separating itself from the pack.
What is Kubernetes? As defi ned on their site: “Kubernetes is an open-source platform for automating deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts, providing container-centric infrastructure.” Why is this technology so important? As explained on the right, Kubernetes makes it easier to adopt microservices and move applications between on-premise and the cloud. “The adoption of Microservices and Containers is currently hitting mainstream IT,” says Nic Grange, CTO at Retriever Communications. “For most of these companies, the biggest challenge they will face in order to benefi t from these technologies will be to actually run these services in production at any sort of scale. The last couple of years has seen a large amount of fl ux in this space with a clear winner now emerging in the shape of Google’s Kubernetes project. The project comes out of Google’s own extensive experience running containers in production at scale. While most companies are moving workloads to the cloud, there are still currently far more workloads being run on-premise than in the cloud. Kubernetes allows companies to adopt Microservices and containers now without requiring them to also make the jump to the cloud at the same time. It then provides a simple future path to move applications to the cloud with little change or even move them back to on-premise. Most IT departments are used to deploying applications directly to the operating systems, but technologies like Kubernetes move up the level of abstraction which makes it easier to move applications between on-premise and the cloud. IT departments will have to adapt to this to allow their business to be competitive and responsive to market changes by reducing the cost of changing directions.”
While it hasn’t reached widespread adoption yet, experts predict Blockchain will transform everything from digital currency to voting processes to entire economies. How disruptive is it? This article explains how blockchain will impact the fi nancial system like the internet did to media. But, what is Blockchain? Popularized through the use of cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records (called blocks). Blockchain makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. If that’s confusing, here’s an article that explains the concept in simpler terms. However, while many are still wrapping their head around Blockchain, one thing is certain: Blockchain will impact your business in the very near future. It’s a technology you must keep your eyes on in the coming year and beyond. “I feel like 2018 is going to be the year of the blockchain,” says David Cox, CEO at LiquidVPN. “We are seeing some fascinating things being created with blockchain. Most of the exciting projects are currently in development, but we are starting to see the fi nancial and security sectors adopt the blockchain for voting, authentication, investing, and crowdfunding.”
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
Like AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t a new trend. But, it has picked up steam over the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner estimates that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. While the consumer segment accounts for 63% of IoT usage, business usage is on the rise. Businesses are on pace to employ 3.1 billion connected things in 2017, with the number expected to rise substantially in 2018. How can IoT help your business? It will impact: Data volumes: As more devices connect to the web (and generate data), data volumes will skyrocket. The question is, what will you do with this data? Inventory tracking and management: In the near future, smart devices will keep track of your inventory automatically, freeing up employees for more important tasks. Business monitoring: IoT devices will help you monitor all aspects of your business, from energy consumption to productivity. Now, this is just scratching the surface, and will vary by company. But, one thing is clear: IoT holds amazing potential for the business world, and cannot be ignored moving forward. “Every CIO should be thinking about how the adoption of IoT could improve their business and drive new revenue streams and Smart Applications,” says Mighael Botha, CTO for North America for Software AG. “IoT should not just be thought of as an initiative for CIOs in manufacturing, retail and transportation, but also as a discipline that really spans all industries. For example, in Healthcare, if I run a 24-Hour Emergency center with an MRI machine that is only utilized 60% of the time, I could create a service (through APIs and a mobile app) in which Physicians can ‘book’ time for their own patients to use the MRI so I get better utilization rates and a new income stream. But adopting IoT has many challenges. Creating an IoT Framework tailored to an organization and its unique infrastructure is a critical fi rst step. Adopting IoT should really be part of the overall strategy to become a Data Driven Enterprise and a stepping stone to further enhance an organization’s AI capabilities.
5. Real-time Stream Data Processing
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a data explosion. Businesses now have access to more data than ever before… and it isn’t slowing down. As IoT continues to grow, so will the data avalanche. The big question: How will you use this data to your advantage? As Gartner reports in their 2017 CIO Agenda, “Analytics underpin the mediation and value exchange occurring in digital ecosystems, and although top performers have a higher investment target than others, this capability is clearly seen by all as the key to digital value.” In the coming years, real-time BI and analytics will become essential. Businesses must focus on technologies that turn their steady fl ow of data into meaningful information. “Businesses are collecting more and more data, yet many still don’t have the capabilities to do much with it, at least not in realtime,” says Nic Grange, CTO at Retriever Communications. “For years, businesses have relied on reports generated on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. Nowadays this isn’t good enough. Businesses need the information as soon as it is available and need to make fast decisions that allow them to adapt to the changing needs of their customers. The impact of IoT will only accelerate the amount of data a business collects and then need to be able to process in real-time to make everyday business decisions. All the major Cloud Providers are now offering stream processing services and companies like Confl uent who is behind Apache Kafka are leading the way in offering capabilities required for the IoT era. Many people still view these types of platforms as a luxury and only required for companies operating on a large scale. This is slowly changing as adoption becomes easier. The introduction of all these managed services from cloud providers reduce some of the traditional barriers. Developers within IT Departments will need to adapt to this programming paradigm.”
6. Fog/Edge Computing
Cloud computing has changed how we store and access data. It has changed the way many businesses operate, and will continue to play an important role in the coming years. However, cloud computing has some limitations. Namely, it relies on a fast internet connection. This becomes even more important as more data moves to the cloud, and businesses demand faster access. Sooner or later, this limitation will cap the cloud’s capabilities. This is driving a new technology that aims to bypass the speed hurdle: Fog computing. Also called “edge computing”, it aims to solve the problem by keeping data closer to the ground. Essentially, it keeps data on local computers and devices rather than routing everything through the cloud. For instance, suppose your laptop could download software updates and share them with phones and tablets? Rather than every device downloading updates separately (and chewing up bandwidth), they use the computing power that’s already around them. Essentially, Fog/Edge computing reduces the amount of data traveling to and from the cloud, and increases access speed. With these benefi ts, it’s quickly becoming a technology that you can’t afford to ignore. “No list of technologies to watch in 2018 would be complete without citing Fog Computing, also known as Edge computing – a new computing architecture in which data, compute services, storage services, data and applications are distributed in the most logical, effi cient place between the data source and the cloud, instead of simply having one or two massive cloud locations around the world,” says Kevin Liebl, VP of Marketing, Zadara Storage. “As IoT, autonomous devices, data capture and sensing use cases explode, there’s growing recognition that neither of today’s dominant enterprise IT architectures –on-premises and cloud computing – are a fi t for applications that require low-latency processing and storage, which simply can’t be done across vast distances. Edge computing keeps data closer to the devices that act on it, and so it’s perfect for IoT driven applications such as smart cities, autonomous factories, smart retail and so forth, where IoT devices will inject data continuously to the cloud, and software will need to make decisions or take action on the data at low latency.” “While this may seem like an “everything old is new again” development, just another architectural ebb and fl ow between centralized and decentralized computing, fog computing actually complements the cloud and relies on it, not replaces it. It’s like having a lot of small, local private clouds with their processing and storage resources located near devices to improve effi ciency and reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent to far-away cloud locations for centralized, aggregated processing.”
7. Machine Learning
By now, you’re probably familiar with the concept of machine learning. In short, it gives computers the ability to learn without being programmed. In theory, the benefi ts of this technology are staggering. Machines can perform complex tasks and predict future results. This will change how businesses operate and revolutionize entire industries. However, the technology has been around for awhile now. Why is it included on this list? Up until recently, the barrier to entry was too high for most. You needed the best talent and technology to even scratch the surface. But, recent advancements are making machine learning more accessible. As access improves, its impact will grow dramatically. “Machine Learning (ML) and the wider Artifi cial Intelligence (AI) fi eld have been talked about for many years, but until now they have largely only been used by elite companies with large R&D teams, full of PhDs, and with access to large amounts of computing power,” says Nic Grange, CTO at Retriever Communications. “While the cloud has largely leveled the playing fi eld in terms of computing power, the skills and knowledge required are still beyond most companies. Recent efforts by some of the biggest technology providers like Amazon, Google, IBM have made some of these capabilities available to the mainstream. I see this trend accelerating into 2018 when businesses of any size can more easily adopt ML/ AI. Most of the services are quite raw at the moment but in time they will become much more robust and easier to integrate. Businesses can start incorporating these services into their applications for their specifi c use cases and really start to differentiate themselves from their competitors. While ML/ AI is available to all, adoption is still likely to be slow so the businesses that take advantage of them fi rst will have the biggest impact on their industries.”
8. Risk Quantification Technologies
We didn’t include a “security” section in this paper, as it’s been a can’t-ignore issue for a few years now. After all, security breaches are on the rise. In 2016, reported data breaches increased by 40%. That number is expected to grow in the near future. However, there is one aspect of security technology that’s gaining steam recently: Risk quantifi cation technologies. Think about it. The implications of a data breach are massive. From negative publicity to fi nancial losses, a cyber breach can disrupt a business. One study found that the average cost of cyber breach is $3.6 million. Does every incident reach that mark? Of course not. Some may have little to no impact at all. Others can bankrupt a business. That’s why risk quantifi cation is becoming so important. As explained below, you need to understand the risks of a security breach for your company, and take appropriate steps to mitigate those risks. “With #WannaCry and other forms or advanced malware, every enterprise is under attack and defenses are porous,” says Ashwin Krishnan, Senior Vice President of Products and Strategy at HyTrust. “Which means that enterprises really have to invest in understanding the risk – both from external and internal sources – and be able to quantify that under three categories – risk of a compliance breach, risk of a cyber security incident, cost of cyber insurance. And choose the appropriate solution based on the risk appetite and ignoring the fear vendors are spreading – doing nothing may be a perfectly valid response if the cost of cyber insurance is too high and my comparison a compliance breach or cyber security incident exposure and cost is deemed low!”
Do you remember back when business applications were built using a monolithic approach? In those days, every feature was baked into the application. These days, that’s no longer the case. Over the past few years, microservices have quickly turned into the preferred method for software development. What does it mean? As explained in this article, “the microservice architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.” In other words, rather than building every feature directly into the application (the monolithic approach), the microservice approach creates applications from many smaller services. Now, this isn’t a new trend. But, it’s becoming even more important, and cannot be ignored in 2018. Why? As explained on the right, microservices are absolutely essential for those companies who hope to capitalize on new technology, like AI and IoT. “Microservices has been a constant topic of conversation since the term was fi rst coined in 2011,” says Mighael Botha, CTO for North America for Software AG. “There has been a slow adoption, but microservices have now gone mainstream and no CIO should think about creating new Smart Applications or modernizing their existing applications without exploring a microservices architecture fi rst. With microservices, large monolithic applications are broken into independent highly scalable services that run as separate processes. A microservices architecture is absolutely essential for creating agile scalable applications for the 21st Century. I don’t think organizations exploring areas like IoT, AI and Smart Applications can adopt those disciplines without a solid microservices architecture driven with APIs and enterprise grade messaging. Microservices help drive reduced TCO and improved ROI across the entire enterprise especially if organizations embrace a DevOps culture to advance their CI and CD capabilities.”
10. Productivity-Enhancing Technologies
The modern IT department is under more pressure than ever before. They must move quickly. They must shift from a backoffi ce role into a technology driver. They must become a true business partner. The problem: Most IT departments are already overworked and understaffed. They’d love to move quickly, but they’re constantly putting out fi res. They’d love to become a technology driver, but maintaining existing technology and supporting the business keeps them busy already. What’s worse, many have developed a slow-moving reputation. As IT plays a larger role in the business, they must break free of this stigma. They must take advantage of technologies that drive speed and agility. “I believe that in 2018 IT Leaders, globally, will have to take a closer look on technologies that speed up their day to day department operations,” says Rodrigo Montagner, an IT Executive. “Regardless the cloud, the actual speed of a typical IT Departments (and typical businesses) is used to defi nitely needs to change for better and faster.” “In this verge I would like to mention two types of technologies: the mobile based collaboration ones and the messaging/chatting ones. Without making any advertisement or mentioning products, the collaboration tools, the ones that really allows an instantaneous, fast and light communication, in order to expedite and enhance the IT Operations’ capabilities, will be the ones the CIO’s must have on the searchlight for testing with their teams. It can expedite the overall global support from hours to seconds, without losing traceability and quality.” Now, these technologies help the IT department improve communication and operate more effi ciently. But, modern CIOs must take it a step further and include self-service technologies that help IT teams offl oad some of their tasks. While this applies to many areas of the business, here’s one example: In many businesses, the IT department is still in charge of reporting. All reporting requests run through them, and users often wait days for the reports they need. However, these days, there’s no need for this bottleneck. Selfservice analytics technology has improved to the point where end users can easily use it on their own. Businesses that aren’t capitalizing on this technology are only hurting their productivity. That’s just one example, but the point is this: Going forward, CIOs must fi nd ways to offl oad whatever tasks they can to end users. This not only improves productivity, it frees up the IT department for mission-critical tasks.
Published as a paper in the USA