We are now entering a time of unpredictability and volatility for businesses, triggering the imagination when it comes to the impact of technology on private life, business and society. In many cases, the coronavirus pandemic will bring into question how we use and engage with digital technologies, which have now become intimately entwined with business change.
To this extent ‘digital transformation’ has become a pleonasm and the next twelve months will be defined by businesses’ ability to survive in a time of uncertainty and a renewed quest for simplicity. The current Covid-19 crisis comes on top of this ‘new norm’ and is a serious example of unpredictable forces that can challenge a business to rapidly detect, respond and adapt.
Simplicity is what is needed – in the form of simple messages, instant action, zero friction and a continuous stream of exciting and rewarding signature moments. But simplicity in this context isn’t so straight forward.
Businesses today are looking for solutions to handle the surge of data coming from an ever-growing number of internal and external sources; to process the most complex tech and delivery paths we have ever seen; and to deal with multi-faceted and volatile business models influenced by economic, political and socio-cultural landscapes. There are several trends shaping the future of technology adoption for business leaders to keep in mind.
Working towards de-centralised solutions
Technology infused organisations want to be business transformation companies. This involves two things – simplification of technology solutions and harnessing the power of data. Bringing these to the fore isn’t always easy, but business leaders need to find a way of regaining control of their operations and engaging with new ventures.
We are living in a cycle of constant modernisation, where the technologies of tomorrow quickly become the legacy of today. An emerging answer to this are decentralised solutions, where businesses can unlock themselves from the technology of yesteryear and radically change ways of exploiting their data. Data, and the value it brings to the enterprise, is what gives purpose to an organisation. Business leaders need to focus on data rather than technology as the enterprise asset to recognise the true value of it; only once this occurs will they be able to utilise its full potential.
We’re seeing ecosystems emerge as enterprises adapt from operating as a monolithic entity, working in peer-to-peer modes rather than as a central command and control operation. This is driving a need for decentralised technologies which can create a trusted fabric on which to transact. Additionally, businesses are seeing the consequences of their use of cloud in the form of access, functional and data lock-in that has made it difficult for them to take control of their data assets. This is motivating the creation of decentralised technologies to enable a computing platform that runs anywhere on the Internet. Through this platform decentralisation, businesses can become more independent, operating their enterprise on systems which are inherently secure and robust through the open protocols they are based on, so making them less reliant on their cloud providers.
A focus on evolving the “infostructure”
The infrastructure of the digital landscape is a crucial foundation for any organisation with business technology ambitions. The future is that it becomes truly invisible, providing fast, secure, agile and cost-effective solutions that services a highly connected, always expanding network of people. This enables businesses to use pre-defined services and workloads to support future technology business objectives. Combined with the incredible insight data holds – increasingly through sensors, mobile devices and the internet of things – businesses can start to bring both the “invisible” and “infostructural” parts of the equation together.
The key to achieving this is keeping to an “as-a-service” principle which covers both the traditional and cloud-native deployment scenarios. For an organisation, this is simply a matter of extending and enhancing their existing infrastructure-related capabilities to develop an infostructure-services catalogue, which is fully software-driven. The control of the infostructure is then fully secure, automated and orchestrated by software, entailing that businesses will no longer be exposed to complexity, as abstraction and automation will allow for a simpler way of consuming infostructure capabilities, wherever it resides, and which then is another way to avoid the cloud lock-in that they see.
An invisible infostructure delivers the speed, availability and reliability needed by technology businesses in a responsible and secure way. Through this model, large and complex environments are simplified, supercharged and accelerated through the creation of modular components to the landscape.
Delivering simplicity with the power of technology
Simplification is a crucial business tactic in a complex digital world. AI is approaching areas that were until now considered the undisputable domains for humans, and 5G is redefining the very notion of connectivity. AI is now a core capability for a cognitive enterprise, and although it hasn’t taken off in the way we thought it would, it still enables business leaders to make important decisions about the future.
The industry is continuously thinking upstream, away from the hardware problems, to look at the applications of the future and when they will become a reality. Emerging technologies like quantum computing and advanced analytics are still a way off but work has already begun due to the high-level of potential these technologies hold; they are now in the position AI was 10 years ago.
While developments in quantum technology are well underway, having a stable quantum computer that can perform at scale is still far from reality. However, business leaders can agree that this will be the next big game-changer. But the potential for these technologies often incites panic when they should be creating excitement. For quantum, concerns are focused around security, rather than the technology, as all of our secure connections are based on encrypting through hard sums, which are incredibly difficult for current computers to solve but will be extremely easy for a quantum computer to crack.
As such, there is a growing concern around how businesses can communicate securely and keep information safe. Even though it’s still a decade, if not further, away, organisations need to ensure they are protecting current data systems that could become open once quantum comes to fruition. In the context of simplicity, businesses must strike a balance between leaving their security in the hands of its technology solutions and transparency.
Technology has the power to deliver simplicity, now more than ever; but simplicity requires good judgement. Hopefully, these trends outlined can help business leaders take control of complex technologies to simplify their processes.