Enterprise Technologies to Adopt and Avoid in 2019
Which technologies are most (and least) promising for the coming year?
By Saurabh Jha, Oracle Insight
Enterprise technology has never been better. The options for digitally modernizing your business have multiplied within the last decade with the advancement of cloud computing, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and robotic process automation—to name just a few groundbreaking technologies.
But with options comes confusion and a lack of focus. From the Oracle Insight team’s interactions with enterprises across different industry segments, it is clear that most of them have put too much on their IT plate.
Enterprises need to focus on initiatives that provide them with both the ability to grow and to be agile.”
In 2019, enterprise leaders should take a long, hard look at the technology options available and select the ones that provide maximum impact. Here are our recommendations for how to decide what to invest in, consolidate, and put on a back burner for now. We also propose a few priorities to keep in mind while deciding about technology investments.
What to Invest In
Several new technologies have proven to be winners in the enterprise. Firms should look at investing heavily in these areas, as they will create value for years to come.
Autonomous IT: It’s an IT organization’s dream come true: IT professionals work on strategic aspects of IT enablement, leaving the system maintenance and optimization to the system itself. With Oracle’s release of Oracle Autonomous Database, we expect original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and startups to provide autonomous capabilities to other areas of IT as well. This will be a game changer for CIOs by allowing them to allocate a larger portion of their budget and resources toward forward-looking aspects of their business.
Microservices and containers: Traditional firms often aren’t able to compete with disrupters because they have hard-to change legacy IT that acts as a bottleneck. With a microservices architecture, monolithic applications can be broken down into simpler business functions and then loosely coupled to provide the same functionality as one large application. Once this is done, adding or removing functionality can take just days or weeks instead of years. Containers allow these bite-sized applications to easily scale and move across different environments, whether on premises or in the cloud. Containers demonstrated their value in 2016, when the massively popular game Pokémon Go was released. The developers had planned for a 5x surge, but the demand was so high that the application scaled 50x—without a hitch. A combination of microservices and containers is potent, and it is probably the best route to scalability today.
DevOps: DevOps is the confluence of IT development and operations, creating a single team for IT development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. DevOps enables faster application and feature development. Traditionally, a siloed framework resulted in an immense loss of time and higher costs. Enterprises cannot afford to have 18- to 36-month-long development and deployment cycles anymore. Moving to DevOps is not an easy task for large organizations because it involves drastic changes to the IT organization structure by having end-to-end IT ownership for each business function. But in today’s fast-paced world, it is a necessity.
Advanced and embedded AI and machine learning: We will see increasing numbers of applications with embedded AI and machine-learning stacks that can derive trends, intelligence, and insights while the data is still in motion. When cross-application intelligence is required, insights can be derived by using loosely coupled services. For example, when bank customers use their credit cards to make a purchase, multiple systems such as credit management, customer lifecycle management, location management, and fraud management can tap into their respective intelligence by combining stream analytics with powerful AI. Customers can then receive the next best action and relevant offers within seconds instead of a few hours or days later.
Industrial IoT: Industrial IoT uses IoT technologies to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes. It incorporates complex sensors, network, processors, “intelligence at the edge,” and AI to inject intelligence across the entire gamut of the industrial value chain, including inventory management, equipment management, production, quality control, safety, and security, as well as supply chain management. The entire process becomes more automated, connected, and efficient and less expensive. Orchestrating such a wide range of dependent technology is not an overnight task. However, for any enterprise in the manufacturing or industrial space, investing in industrial IoT is necessary if it plans to remain competitive and sustainable in the future.
What to Consolidate
Enterprises have been investing in the areas of technology mentioned above for the past few years. Now, they should focus on effective consolidation and governance of the following:
API ecosystem: In the enterprise world, the number of partners is increasing at a pace higher than ever before, as businesses cross-leverage each other’s data to target customers. APIs provide a way for two-way communication between multiple partner entities. APIs carry valuable data, so it is of utmost importance that the API ecosystem be governed well. Most enterprises we have worked with have started to develop use-case-based APIs. However, not all of them have a well-defined path or program to manage these APIs. We believe API orchestration, management, and monetization will become a full-time job in the enterprise space.
Hybrid IT environment: A mix of on-premises solutions, private cloud, and public cloud is the future of IT infrastructure. Large enterprises have realized the value of the public cloud as well as the fact that not everything can be placed there due to regulatory constraints, latency issues, or just the complexity of the system. OEMs will be under tremendous pressure to deliver on seamless experiences across on-premises and cloud setups.
Intelligent automation: Almost every large enterprise is working on initiatives involving automation due to its strong value proposition of not wasting human resources on tasks that can be performed by a machine instead. 2019 will see a lot of robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation, with AI and cognitive computing being built across functions such as supply chain, finance, customer management, and human resources. For RPA to derive maximum benefits, enterprises need to put in place a formal framework. This includes ensuring that the RPA bots are easy to use, modify, manage, and integrate with other core platforms. Similarly, on the AI and cognitive computing fronts, enterprises need to clearly define their use case—and whether they need human replacement (AI) or human assistance (cognitive computing)—before deploying the appropriate technology.
What to Put on a Back Burner
The following technologies have been surrounded with a lot of hype, but either the use cases are half-baked or the ecosystem is not ready. At this time, we believe enterprises should put these on a back burner unless there is a compelling case for not doing so.
Blockchain: It’s cliché now, but blockchain is a classic case of a hammer in search of a nail. Blockchain is a great technology unto itself, as demonstrated by bitcoin. However, it addressed one specific use case: transacting in a trustless environment. Most industries already have well-established partner ecosystems and chains of information as well as ownership, where the primary use case of blockchain does not apply. However, one area where blockchain can play an important role is the public sector, where trust between the citizens and government entities can be massively bolstered by using this technology. Some of the practical use cases include citizen identity services, procurement, and asset ownership.
Consumer IoT: Consumer IoT involves intelligent devices that are in direct touch with the consumer. Examples include smart watches, autonomous cars, and smart consumer appliances such as refrigerators and microwaves. This is a very promising technology. However, in its current state, there are several challenges that need to be overcome. The devices and product ecosystems are not ready. Security and privacy with these devices at edge is a big concern. Networks are not yet geared up to carry the data back and forth. However, this technology is here to stay given its potential, and it may well be a good area in which to invest in the near future.
How Should Enterprises Prepare Themselves for 2019?
When enterprises are deciding where to invest their time, energy, and resources for the coming year, they should keep the following considerations in mind:
Scalability and agility: There are benefits to being large and there are benefits to being nimble—most firms need both. Scalability of the business has a direct dependency on the scalability of the IT infrastructure, which should not become a bottleneck. At the same time, the rate of change in customer requirements and, hence, in the business requirements, is faster today than ever before, which requires agility. Enterprises need to focus on initiatives that provide them with both the ability to grow and to be agile.
Seamless ecosystems: As consumers and businesses get more connected, every enterprise needs to be a part of the larger ecosystem. For example, our cars are no longer just a means of travel; they can provide inputs that could directly determine our insurance premiums. This means that the car manufacturer, car insurer, health insurer, and life insurer need to be a part of this ecosystem. Enterprises must keenly look out for the ecosystems they need to be a part of and take proactive steps toward integration. Organizations that try standing alone will die.
Deep investments with high impact: Invest deeply in chosen initiatives rather than making half-hearted attempts. For example, if developing and maintaining a hybrid IT environment is your chosen strategy, ensure that the entire IT architecture is reviewed and reworked. This includes a new security strategy, a new governance model, and a new orchestration layer that allows the company to easily manage the systems across on-premises, private cloud, and public multicloud environments in a secure and efficient manner.
Sustainability: Focus on initiatives that allow for business sustainability and longevity. For example, financial services companies should focus on initiatives that allow them to collaborate with financial technology companies while at the same time managing costs and scalability issues. Similarly, manufacturing companies should focus on industrial IoT initiatives that help them save time and money on machinery maintenance.
2019 is an exciting year for enterprises. Innovations are happening all over the technology landscape. Successfully using these developments rests squarely on taking time to prioritize your initiatives by keeping an eye on the core principles.