This article was originally published on Intellyx.com
Once again, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new year.
And many would say, not a moment too soon. With a series of tumultuous elections around the world and an unusual number of celebrity passings, it’s been a rough year.
But there is at least one bright spot from 2016: Intellyx’s digital transformation prognostications were close to spot on!
As is our tradition, each year we review last year’s predictions and make all new fresh ones! This year, it is my turn to review Jason’s 2016 predictions and let you know what I see happening in the coming year.
A Look Back on a Year of Inflection Points
Our predictions for 2016 centered on one thing: inflection points.
We predicted that blockchain, IoT security and open source web scale technology would all turn the corner, move beyond hype and gain real traction in the enterprise. And overall, that’s what happened.
Our first prediction was that blockchain would surpass the buzz around Bitcoin, which it supports. From a buzz perspective, this prediction was right on the money. While Bitcoin engendered little conversation in enterprise circles in 2016, blockchain was on the tip of executive tongues at virtually every conference we attended.
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On the other hand, it is still early days for blockchain. There is a lot of talk about its promise, but for the most part, it is still just that — talk. Nevertheless, IBM’s series of blockchain announcements and the Federal Reserve’s new study on the impacts of the technology are sure indications that blockchain is moving past mere buzz.
The second prediction was that IoT security would both emerge as a full-fledged enterprise risk, and that enterprise sentiment would shift to a full-speed-ahead attitude. Attackers using the Mirai Botnet of IoT devices proved the first part of the prediction undeniably correct with their October 21st DDoS attack on Dyn.
On the other hand, the vendor community continues to roll out new products that address both IoT security as well as which bring greater compute power to these increasingly powerful edge devices. But overall, while IoT is moving beyond just buzz, the full-scale adoption of IoT at a strategic level is still in the early, exploratory stages.
The final prediction for 2016 was that open source web scale technology would gain meaningful traction within enterprise organizations. The verdict on this one: we nailed it.
Enterprise organizations have rushed to adopt an entire array of open source web scale tools, driven by what I call the “What Would Netflix Do Movement,” in which enterprise organizations strive to follow the lead of cloud-native, web scale companies.
In addition, a new batch of software vendors is emerging to help these enterprise organizations tame the complexity and harness the power of these open source tools, likely opening the door to even broader enterprise adoption.
The Year Ahead for Digital Transformation
As we look forward to 2017, here’s what we can expect as enterprise organizations continue on their digital transformation journey:
DevOps Loses its Religion, but Gets Real
The enterprise technology industry is notorious for near incessant talk and hype about new technologies and approaches, long before they get any real traction. Bucking this trend, however, DevOps has enjoyed substantial adoption within enterprise organizations — particularly in those that see themselves as progressive and forward-thinking.
Along the way, however, it has developed a near-religious fervor that has risked oversetting expectations and overshadowing its actual underlying value. As organizations move toward full-scale enterprise adoption, they are realizing the challenges of overcoming organizational inertia and are struggling to integrate DevOps into the full legacy lifecycle.
Our prediction for 2017 is that as DevOps continues the march toward enterprise scale adoption, the religious fervor around it will falter. Simply saying “DevOps” three times while clicking your heels will no longer be sufficient to get funding or project approval. As it goes mainstream, organizations will see it as just one part of the enterprise IT transformational operating model.
AI & Machine Learning Become Strategic
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been the subject of stories and sci-fi movies for decades. But is has been the advent of IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa that have stirred the imagination of enterprise organizations.
In addition, the rapid evolution of machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, deep neural networks, and other AI approaches have led to a veritable gold rush of new AI-based technologies targeted at the enterprise. It is to the point that embedding some form of machine learning or other AI-approach is now the price of admission for technology companies.
Despite capturing the attention of technology companies and the imagination of executives, however, AI has remained a strategic novelty. Our prediction for 2017 is that this will change.
There will be a fundamental shift within the C-Suite as they recognize the strategic imperative to embrace AI as a key driver of competitive advantage. They will, therefore, begin reshaping their organizations around AI-driven or AI-enabled business processes.
While the strategic adoption and the reshaping of organizations around AI will take years, 2017 will be the year that it went from novelty to strategic driver.
The Edge Comes Back into Vogue
For the past five years or so, the buzz around cloud has been all encompassing. It crossed the tipping point as IT executives began adopting a cloud-first strategy for all new technology deployments. The momentum has only continued to increase.
While the buzz might lead you to believe that the future is all about cloud, there has been a recent shift to increasing compute at the edge. The continued evolution of IoT strategies, edge analytics, and software-defined WANs allow more and more high-value activities to occur at the edge of the cloud.
Our prediction for 2017 is that this evolution will cause a disruption to the traditional cloud market as the battle ensues over who will control, manage and orchestrate this edge compute capability. Moreover, the evolution of edge computing will confuse enterprise cloud strategy just as IT executives were beginning to get their arms around the new world order.
The Intellyx Take
The big message for 2017 is evolution and maturity.
As we’ve written about before, digital transformation is an on-going process rather than a destination — and organizations are finally beginning to recognize this fact. As a result, enterprise executives will begin, in earnest, the hard work of reshaping the foundations of their businesses for the digital era — with all of the challenges that implies.
Underpinning this transformational work will be the macroevolution of digital business models, the continued reshaping of privacy expectations and ever-changing and ever-expanding customer expectations.
The result will be a year that is equal parts excitement and sobriety as the continuous stream of breakthrough technologies continues to wow executives, but in which they also come to terms with the very difficult challenges they face in reshaping their organizations around them.
Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Mike Licht.