Software-defined products, the Internet of Things and a comprehensive digital customer experience are right at the top of the 2016 task list.
Crisp Research, the Kassel-based research and consulting company, has identified ten key trends for the coming year. Dr Carlo Velten, who together with Steve Janata founded the company and is today its Managing Director, personally discusses these trends in an essay.
Software takes over hardware functions
Velten sees software-defined products and the Internet of Things as the first major trend. According to Velten, the benefit of future products is increasingly determined by their software, built-in sensors and their networking with other devices to form a comprehensive IoT solution; hardware and material properties, in contrast, will play a secondary role. The increasing importance of software makes it necessary for product and corporate IT to grow together within companies.
Customer experience is becoming a KO criterion
Number 2 on the list is a universal digital customer experience. To increase customer loyalty and sales, customers must have consistently positive experiences when contacting the company. To achieve this, companies firstly have to coordinate CRM, customer portals, e-commerce, marketing automation, social media presence and mobile apps; secondly, in many cases they also have to renew service, support and maintenance processes.
Functioning interfaces for cloud services
Thirdly, the increasing number of interfaces, which are becoming increasingly important with the continuing trend towards the cloud, will have to be managed. Only functioning APIs will make it possible to let the growing data streams flow while evaluating them in real time. This task will become increasingly difficult in future. Around 15,000 APIs are already used on the Internet today, and the growth trend continues.
Intelligent machines for data evaluation
Trend number 4 is the growing importance of machine learning. The rapidly increasing amount of data from preventative healthcare (for example: fitness bracelets), surveillance cameras and driverless cars equipped with sensors make it increasingly necessary for machines to take over evaluation. Machine-learning processes and self-learning systems need to be developed for this purpose. The required computing power, however, is already available from the cloud providers.
From IaaS to infrastructure as code
There is also the trend toward infrastructure as code. The increasing use of ready-made Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings implies that administrators in companies need to adjust these cloud offerings to their own needs using scripts. As smaller and medium-sized companies in particular lack the necessary resources, there will be an increasing demand for managed public cloud services.
From applications to micro services
Another trend identified by Crisp Research is micro service architectures. The advent of container technologies such as Docker in interaction with APIs and scalable cloud infrastructures has created the conditions favourable to breaking applications down into individual processes and functions. These are easier to maintain and renew, enable faster product development, and shorten time to market.
Making business processes mobile
Crisp Research presents the seventh trend under the unwieldy name of Mobile Business Process Management. With this term, analysts play on the growing importance of the mobile Web. For companies, this means that they have to adapt their online presence accordingly. In addition, business processes have to be made mobile and integrated into the existing IT backend.
From business intelligence to self-service evaluations
The eighth trend for the coming year concerns the development away from the business intelligence solutions and toward self-service, cloud-based and mobile analysis tools. Companies must enable their employees to make decisions based on corporate data and data from external sources. The visualisation of data and data streams is particularly important here.
New security concepts from the cloud
Security concepts must be adapted to the changed conditions. The scene is increasingly dominated by organised crime, which is blackmailing companies with DDoS attacks and the like. In addition, the increase in mobility means that many of a company’s employees are on the road and not at the company’s headquarters or at a branch office. IT security services will thus have to come increasingly from the cloud, according to analysts at Crisp Research.
Agility: faster, more flexible and more customer-specific
The tenth and final trend that Carlo Velten identifies is the need for CIOs to develop new skills or revive old ones. They must be able to quickly convert new applications and processes into a Proof of Concept (PoC) or a prototype. They need to be able to scale applications to cloud platforms but also discontinue them. Finally, a company’s success will also increasingly depend on the CIO developing new IT applications strictly in accordance with the needs of users and customers, thereby giving priority to user experience. (rf)