One of the advantages of being CTO for a digital services business is that I get to spend a lot of time talking to executives about technology in a wide variety of organisations, across a disparate blend of industries and scales. A consistent set of trends and challenges always emerges. Here’s some of the highlights…
Perhaps top of the list is data lakes, warehouses and marts, which have been a hot topic for years. But this year with the large uptick in adoption of cloud native data platforms such as Databricks, the scope and shape of these initiatives is changing.
Companies are starting to focus on more discrete data integrations, taking old stand-alone data and finding faster, more meaningful ways to integrate it and leverage it in decision making.
While the focus of the past few years has been backwards looking, often dealing with purely historic data for reporting purposes on slow time cycles, there’s a move towards more real time and transactional integrations – which can clearly be seen in the rapid shift in technologies and approaches in the data engineering world.
The advent of data integration has put analytics firmly at the core of the omnichannel business. The tipping point has really been passed and omnichannel expectations are no longer just for the early adopting customer. From coffee shops to tool outlets, expectations for a seamless transactional experience from digital to the real world are now the baseline.
Customers no longer want to deal with paper receipts or reward cards, instead expecting an integrated experience that doesn’t require them to manage physical artefacts, but equally doesn’t use ‘digital’ as an excuse to reduce the number of human interactions that are necessary to feel connected to a brand, product or service. Omnichannel is here to stay and is a baseline requirement for any modern retailer, driving deeper, more transactional data integrations, as well as demanding strategies for optimisation.
IoT, 5G & Digital Twins.
The promise of IoT and 5G is also nothing new, but it continues to be a hot topic in 2022. 5G coverage is just starting to reach meaningful levels, and the heady early days of IoT gadgets of questionable value are behind us. Companies are starting to look more seriously at industrial IoT, and in the consumer IoT space, the focus is moving away from flashy features to learning how to leverage IoT for operational and logistical support.
IoT platforms on the cloud are largely commoditised, and hardware costs (chip shortages aside) at an all-time low.
One of the most promising outcomes of this is the rise in Digital Twins. Creating digital clones of real-world systems is in its infancy, so this may take several years to play out. But the implications, especially for large scale operations and infrastructure, are huge.
The transition to hybrid working is an area that has been perhaps overlooked in terms of its impact on automation. Face-to-face interactions get augmented with technology, process, more structured meetings – which naturally lend themselves to enabling automation.
However, the rise of digital tooling is increasing automation and transactional-level integrations. From the most basic no-code and low-code solutions like Power Apps right through to AI driven hyperautomation, it’s clear that this is an area that is continuing to grow.
Cloud & service-oriented architectures.
There’s no longer a question about cloud. It won the battle. Huge investment in the move to cloud resulted in a lot of lift-and-shift of systems into virtual machines. As cloud services like Azure have matured, for many organisations who have already invested in cloud infrastructure, the question is ‘now what?’.
The answer is to leverage the power that cloud native services provide – to modernise and transform systems and to explore potential value. A move towards service-oriented architectures and a more coherent approach to technology across your organisation is certainly worth evaluating.
As a result of these trends, one directly correlated impact is the continued war for tech talent. Although the level of new entrants in the industry is increasing, a lack of experienced seniors who can guide and support technical decision-making around it, can inhibit organisations from moving more quickly with the confidence to drive real value from technology evolution.
Got a challenge in mind or keen to discuss the latest trends further? We’d love to hear from you.