The Internet of Things, unrelenting expansion of big data and increasing ability to analyse and act on data are likely to be hallmarks of key technology trends in 2015 and beyond, according to Max McLaren, regional vice president and general manager at Red Hat.
McLaren said: “In 2015, I expect to see continued change and challenges for the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Information technology has an essential role in virtually every organisation today, so it has become critically important to break free from set behaviours and relationships in order to establish IT as a full business partner.
“Organisations that embrace change and adopt new ways of working can be more successful, gaining a competitive advantage over those that are not willing to move forward.”
McLaren has outlined six key business and technology trends that he anticipates for 2015:
1. The CIO becomes a Chief Innovation Officer
While CIOs have traditionally worked to bridge the divide between IT and business, and have made significant progress in their efforts to align IT activities with business unit requirements, the need to proactively supply the business with “platforms of innovation” are now a necessity and not a luxury or a side project.
McLaren said: “In 1958, the average tenure of a Fortune 500 company was 61 years, today it is 18. Of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955, 87% of them are now extinct . Companies that innovate, encourage experiments and trial and error are more likely to create shareholder wealth and greater returns on equity .”
The role of the CIO has moved beyond the traditional IT manager. He or she is front and centre of almost every organisation either as an enabler or inhibitor to future success.
Successful CIOs must look to break free from set behaviours and relationships to establish themselves as business strategy leaders and disentangle themselves from the impression that their role is simply to keep the organisation’s IT function operating.
2. Businesses leaders need to look beyond instinct or previous experience to make decisions
Businesses looking to sharpen their competitive edge need to be able to predict customers’ behaviour and make smart decisions accordingly.
CRO’s (Customer Relationship Officers) and CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) are looking at customer intimacy, inference based decision making and real-time event tracking to engage customers, create ongoing dialogue and relationship with the brand, their products and services.
The challenge is making the IT systems work for the end customer.
Complex event processing (CEP) is one of the pragmatic and evolutionary steps in predictive and inference based decision making for the business. CEP works in real-time. It enables companies to analyse data from a number of different sources, from big data, data warehouses, data lakes and CRM systems to draw more accurate conclusions and therefore make smarter business decisions that deliver better customer experience.
CEP removes the guesswork for a customer-facing person (e.g. customer call agent) or system (e.g. online chat) to suggest, offer or package products, services and decisions that drive brand loyalty and greater wallet-share.
3. IT Departments need to get out of craftwork and become lean manufacturers
High-performing IT organisations are realising they are not craftsmen building unique IT artefacts. They are manufacturers, using the lessons learnt from the manufacturing industry and their lean methodologies.
If businesses are to remain competitive, agile and responsive, the CIO and his/her team need to manage the pipeline of work like a car manufacturer, through automation, standardisation, continuous improvement and with clear visibility of the organisation’s capacity for new work.
The Infrastructure Operations division has made good strides over the last five years by providing levels of standardisation and automation at an infrastructure level. However, greater value can be gained through the automation, testing, deployment and rollback of application development, deployment and lifecycle processes. Today, the “app is king” because it drives revenue, reduces costs and meets compliance requirements.
DevOps combined with an Agile development methodology introduces lean characteristics.
McLaren said: “DevOps is becoming the default “modus operandi” of high performing IT organisations. These teams drive higher market capitalisation and revenue growth because they can release new application changes 30 times more frequently.”
4. Elastic systems integration is a must
Elastic systems integration gives businesses flexibility in the way they use applications across different clouds. The elasticity means that apps can be used together and separately without having to make changes to the overall IT architecture.
Elastic systems integration loosely couples apps so they are not rigidly defined by cloud location and app compatibility. It gives companies the flexibility to use the lowest-cost providers. This can save businesses time and money and increase their responsiveness to market needs and conditions.
This ‘any app on any cloud’ integration is likely to become more prevalent as companies realise cost savings and increased efficiency.
Larger organisations have taken advantage of cross-business integration for some time, creating apps to drive processes and automate where possible. Until now the cost and complexity of doing so has been a barrier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to achieve the same kind of automation and productivity improvements. The app economy has driven this trend among SMEs, who can now easily collaborate with other businesses.
McLaren said: “This style of working was pioneered by enterprise organisations with many divisions and departments to help them work more closely together. It has now trickled down to SMEs, with larger SMEs like law firms being the first to adopt it. In time, cross-business integration will become a standard way of working for companies of all sizes.”
6. Cloud management platforms (CMP) will be vital to cope with today’s complex IT environments
As more organisations implement cloud-based strategies, effectively managing cloud platforms will become vital. With many organisations adopting a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds, the IT environment becomes more complex. Organisations may struggle to effectively manage their cloud deployments.
Cloud management platforms (CMP) provide a simplified architecture and allow the company’s systems to co-exist and interact. CMPs create an additional layer on top of existing cloud systems to provide an integrated view and set of tools to control and manage an IT environment.
For a CMP to work consistently and coherently within a business, companies should integrate all business strategies and policies into this platform. CMPs require a strong strategy and vision to contribute successfully to the IT environment.