There are 10 primary trends small business owners need to consider when evaluating long-term strategies.
Outside of the U.S., which will be experiencing strong economic growth due to the incoming Trump administration, the global economic and geopolitical headwinds in 2017 will constrain IT budgets.
Nonetheless, the rapidly changing business climate continues to push IT executives to do much more with tight budgets. Once again new waves of next-generation technologies are emerging and challenging the status quo and deserve IT executive attention.
These technologies will improve business outcomes as well as spark innovation and drive down the cost of IT services and solutions. IT executives must strategize with business executives to select and fund the appropriate next-generation technologies or find self-funding approaches to implementing them.
Simultaneously, executives will have to address the data and service level concerns that impact business outcomes, productivity and revenues so that there is more confidence in IT. Lastly, executives will need to increase their focus on automation, operations simplicity, orchestration, and security so that IT can deliver more at a lower cost while better protecting the organization from cybersecurity attacks and vulnerabilities.
There are a number of major technology trends bombarding the market, exciting business executives, and putting pressure on IT executives to deliver.
For the small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) there are 10 primary trends that executives should consider when evaluating long-term strategies and 2017 initiatives.
The 10 Disruptive Technology Trends
1. Analytics, AI and Machine Learning
Analytics not only is gaining momentum but is bifurcating into two additional subgroups – artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The former will pick up speed as the Amazons, Facebooks and Googles of the world push their AI offerings and inspire others to follow. Users are rapidly adopting the voice-first systems (such as Amazon's Alexa and Echo, Apple's Siri, and Google's Home) and smart agents.
Machine learning will remain experimental and a leading edge technology as firms learn how to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, the merger of analytics with real-time transaction processing is instrumental to mass personalization (discussed below), which large enterprises and digital startups are using to acquire and maintain customers. SMBs will need to keep pace with the innovators to protect market share and keep customers loyal.
2. API economy
The ability to utilize cloud applications and microservices through standard APIs is the next step in corporate virtualization.
It will quicken the pace of delivery of new, innovative applications by new digital disruptors across multiple industry sectors. Existing industry players are following suit and it is becoming the expected norm.
This methodology is already shaking up more than IT – it is lowering the barriers to entry and enabling entrants to provide services at lower costs. Look for 2017 to be another big year of disruption in all sectors.
While blockchain has been around since the arrival of Bitcoin, 2016 saw its emergence as a separate, sought-after technology.
It has already forked into different offerings – the most widely known are Etherium and the Hyperledger Project. Although each offering has different characteristics, the driving thrust behind its usage is a common, transparent, tamper-proof distributed ledger that is accessible to all parties of a transaction.
A significant number of large enterprises and FinTechs are already piloting solutions. 2017 will see the emergence of different blockchain offerings, some of which will disrupt their addressable markets and significantly reduce the cost of doing business.
4. Hybrid Cloud
Businesses will have to deal with a hybrid cloud market and its impacts.
SMBs (and others) will not be using a single cloud provider but multiple providers, all of which needs to be integrated into a cohesive business strategy and executed judiciously.
The reason: implementing a hybrid cloud environment integrated with one's existing solutions is complex, can be expensive, and has security exposures that must be mitigated. For business executives the key questions are which clouds does one build or buy; how to expense (CapEx or OpEx); what type of provider (public or private); and where should they be located (in-house or external).
DevOps, which takes agile programming to the next level, will dramatically change the way expectations of IT and IT operations.
The ability to deliver code changes in less than a day, a day or a week will impact business and IT processes. The full implementation of DevOps will represent a true cultural change to an organization.
However, this "nirvana" will take years to implement and flow through decent sized SMB or a large organization and executives should be prepared for the active, and passive, resistance to the change. DevOps will be a hot topic in 2017 but progress will be slow and it is possible that 2017 is the year it falls into the trough of disillusionment.
Next- The Disruptive Technology Trends 6 through 10
About the author
Mr. Braunstein serves as Chairman/CEO and Executive Director of Research at the Robert Frances Group (RFG). In addition to his corporate role, he helps his clients wrestle with a range of business, management, regulatory, and technology issues.
He has deep and broad experience in business strategy management, business process management, enterprise systems architecture, financing, mission-critical systems, project and portfolio management, procurement, risk management, sustainability, and vendor management. Cal also chaired a Business Operational Risk Council whose membership consisted of a number of top global financial institutions.