That’s pretty much it. In literally what feels like the blink of an eye, we’re closing the books on 2018 and gearing up for what promises to be an incredible 2019.
As always, at this time of year, we like to take stock of our achievements and celebrate with our amazing colleagues, partners and customers all around the globe – but, just like our Innovation Partner Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, the end of the year doesn’t mean that we take our foot off the gas – we’re already busy thinking about what comes next and preparing ourselves for another year packed full of opportunity.
As we dust off our crystal ball and prepare to peer into it, instead of delivering the standard “Top 10”, here’s my take on the “9 for 19” – nine key thoughts, trends and technologies that I believe will be of significant importance and impact in 2019.
1. A new CIO – the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer – as the hype around Digital Transformation subsides and gives way to practical and measurable initiatives across different industries, a new breed of CIO will continue to emerge. Technology and business savvy, combined with a relentless capability to challenge status quo, will define this new genre of role. A change agent by definition, they will tear down the remaining barriers between “IT and the business” and focus on the “why” of technology, rather than the “how.”
2. Transformation will fail without new business models – today, global business, is a constant state of change and evolution – and as Darwin’s theories have taught us over the years, it’s not the strongest or fittest of the species that survive, but the ones who are most adaptable to change. We’ve all heard over the last couple of years how “Digital Transformation” promises so much to so many different industries – and although it’s very common for us to hear about how “technology” is part of the strategy, but far less common to hear a cohesive story of how the new business models benefit from and is supported by that technology. So, for many enterprises today, whether they are a financial organisation concerned about disruption from challenger banks or they are an automotive maker being disrupted by ride-sharing companies – new technologies applied can’t be applied just for the sake of technology, or, as we’ve seen from so many failed projects in the past – they simply won’t deliver the outcomes the business requires.
3. The Gig Economy – we are beginning to see the evolution of different kinds of expectations for how to “do work” also play out in one of the most disruptive business models – the gig economy. In many cases, organizations today are still struggling to provide a comprehensive and enabling “user experience” for their existing full-time employees and contract workers. Prepare for new kinds of emerging challenges with the tectonic shift in how the “work” for companies gets re-imagined, re-packaged, distributed and executed within this new paradigm – for an even more widespread user base, some of whom will be gig workers and may never enter an office or meet co-workers in person.
4. People-centric Computing – the long-sought-after balance between the user demand and the IT needs finally becomes struck by delivering an adaptive digital workspace that focuses on the intent of the user and learns how they prefer to work using the transactional information gathered from each individual. This constantly adapting “Workspace” context is aimed at driving better individual productivity and more proactive security. The people-centric computing approach will provide the best user possible experience while getting technology “out of the way” and will allow IT to define and enforce dynamic policies to ensure compliance via visibility into user actions.
5. AI becomes less Sci-Fi – although AI is not new, it is certainly one of the most misunderstood trends. The arguments raging around “the dangers of AI” are interesting (Artificial General Intelligence), but it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to be wiped out by mal-intentioned robots anytime soon. Conversely, what we’re seeing is the rapid commoditization of Artificial Narrow Intelligence – in the context of Machine Learning, applied in ways that augment the human worker. Perhaps the real questions we ought to be asking is how much more productive can we make work in the short term by embracing “AI” and how many more jobs will it create in 2019?
6. Bots take over the menial tasks – we are, and will continue to be, richer than ever in terms of the capability of technology and yet, in many cases, even executing the simplest of tasks still requires significant understanding of how any given application works Again, we see the convergence of enabling technologies – NLP, NLU, ML – being leveraged to help drive simplicity and therefore, better productivity by removing these traditional barriers and allowing the consumer-like experience to prevail. The bots are everywhere – delivering better customer service than ever, delivering intelligent search and even working on our behalf to eliminate the tedious everyday tasks such as making appointments or paying bills.
7. New Human Compute Interface – our physical relationship with “the machines” changes in 2019. Most of us have grown up with the keyboard and mouse being the most familiar input devices – a paradigm that has spanned at least two generations. Rapidly, we are moving into a world where the real and virtual worlds are becoming one, and the way we interact with machines is becoming our own personal choice – whether we touch the screen, whether we talk to the device or whether we fully immerse ourselves in a different experience where gesture control, as well as physical movement, becomes the way we explore, learn, create and engage.
8. Applications evolve, DevOps doesn’t – the rapid adoption of SaaS applications continues at pace – driven by emerging requirements within various Lines of Business – primarily to replace or augment existing “traditional” on-premises applications as business processes are thinned out and re-imagined and organizations look to apply standard solutions to help attract and retain talent. In addition, organisations will see a huge growth in the “homegrown” development of new applications and these will use new architectures and deployment models – both on-premises and in public clouds – but DevOps will continue to be out of reach of most organisations as the gaps in existing siloes between traditional departments and sub-departments fail to close.
9. Hybrid Cloud is crowned King (for now) – for at least a decade, the purists have argued the case on both sides of the public & private cloud divide as to which will prevail. The reality is that both have valid reasons for being considered by organizations across every industry. The hybrid cloud model reigns in 2019, taking into account the placement of “workloads, applications and services” across a variety of different on-premises and public clouds to best suit the needs of the customer. In addition, multi-cloud strategies, for reasons of cost, performance, compliance, reliability and risk reduction of vendor lock-in will also become part of the standard enterprise architecture and deployment.
Whether I’m right with my predictions for 2019, only time will tell. However, I see a future where creators, curators and consumers will be equally important – with some of the skills we take for granted today being augmented or replaced by the application of new technology and in some cases, the core technology rapidly becoming democratized to pave the way for an entirely new set of empowered workers – not all of whom will be human.
By Brendan McAravey, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa