The role of IT is more important than ever in a world that’s increasingly dependent on digital. Organisations are under pressure to digitise and scale to create new revenue channels and meet rising customer demand for a safe, secure and sustainable digital experience. We look at the tech trends driving digital transformation and the opportunities for the channel in 2021.
Our dependence on mobile devices and the adoption of IoT will ensure 5G (finally) goes mainstream. Businesses recognised the importance of seamless connectivity during the pandemic, and this will drive substantial investment in bandwidth to support the explosion in hybrid working, video conferencing and digital collaboration. With 5G pushing the boundaries of the network and computing capabilities in the cloud, it’s also bringing edge computing to the fore, with over 5 billion IoT devices already in operation in enterprise and government environments using edge computing for data collection.
Platforms and ecosystems
According to IDC, by 2025, driven by volatile global conditions, 75% of business leaders will leverage digital platforms and ecosystem capabilities to adapt their value chains to new markets, industries and ecosystems. An integrated digital ecosystem enables organisations to create end-to-end business flows from the ‘outside-in’ by combining B2B, application and data integrations to the entire business network, allowing them to leverage new and legacy technologies – and build automated processes around them – to grow their business.
Businesses need to digitise at scale to meet rising customer demand and create new revenue channels. To thrive in today’s digital economy, 50% of enterprises will implement an organisational culture optimised for digital transformation by 2022, and businesses will have to accelerate the use of digital technologies to transform existing business processes and drive customer engagement, employee productivity and business resiliency. Partners need to drive this change by empowering customers to deliver solutions quicker.
Organisations will increasingly use automation to drive operational efficiency, improve business processes and allow team members to focus on innovation. Salesforce believes 80% of IT organisations will automate more tasks to allow team members to focus on innovation over the next 12 months, while McKinsey estimates that automation could raise productivity in the global economy by up to 1.4% annually. All industries are experimenting with automation, but complexities continue to be a hurdle with an inability to connect systems, applications and data hindering automation initiatives.
One solution to this complexity is better use of APIs to driving automation and scaling. With many companies adopting a multi-cloud strategy, APIs are now vital to build economies of scale, and are becoming essential to minimise data silos and improve collaboration when moving from legacy infrastructure to microservices. But the adoption of APIs brings security concerns; the average enterprise has 900 apps and the proliferation of endpoints creates new opportunities for intrusion, requiring robust security. According to Gartner, by 2022 API abuses will be the most frequent attack vector for web application data breaches.
As enterprises look to become more agile and move towards DevOps and continuous testing, businesses will turn to microservices to rapidly build software, applications and new customer experiences. Microservices help build an application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and are independently deployable, so organisations can quickly adapt to changing customer requests and demands as well as offer services that create a competitive edge.
Businesses face app proliferation – there are around 8,000 in the marketing technology landscape alone – and many are shifting to a composable enterprise to become more agile. This is where digital capabilities can be composed of existing applications using APIs, rather than being built from scratch every time. In Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, it’s a key technology for business resilience and operating at scale with speed: “This modular business model enables organisations to move from rigid, traditional planning to active agility. Composable enterprise thinking creates more innovation and reduced costs.”
To keep pace with evolving customer needs, organisations will need to look for faster ways to unlock data and gain insights. 2021 will be the year that data separates organisations from their competitors and customers – the ability to unlock, analyse and act on data will become foundational to growth. Businesses must invest in data analytics themselves or trust a digital-first, data-driven partner to identify opportunities, generate demand and transform their customer experiences.
Companies are realising they can create value by combining digital and sustainability, leading to digitally driven and sustainably enabled projects as the de-facto standard. Sustainability can serve as a catalyst for many companies to integrate digital technologies into all areas of their business. As the pressure for environmental responsibility mounts, digital technologies such as AI, predictive analytics, machine learning and IoT can help businesses effectively achieve sustainability goals such as predictive maintenance, reducing air pollution, monitoring production processes and increasing energy efficiency.
An important lesson from 2020 was that every business must now be a digital business and in the next normal they must be able to create value at the speed of need. The future of business will be digitised, automated and autonomous.
To learn more about the biggest changes affecting the channel in 2021, download our industry trends eBook now.