"There will be no return to our old ways flexible working is here to stay and with that comes many challenges. But the industry is prepared, and we have the technology to meet these new demands."
Scott Dodds, CEO, Ultima
So, what are the tech trends we all need to be considering?
1. Hybrid workplace. Most companies have realised the bottom line and employee benefits of a more flexible working model. Tied in with a need to look after the environment better and keeping travel to a minimum while allowing staff the flexibility of working from home or wherever they wish to be based. Balanced, of course, with the mental health benefits from social interaction. To meet these complex needs, businesses need to be able to provide flexible ways of working – secure, remote access from anywhere is a must for this. Investing in suitable virtual desktop and workplace technology is key to making this new way of working viable.
2. Follow the sun. Consumers are more demanding, and we need to be able to support their desire never to be offline 24/7 globally. Most mid-market enterprises don’t have the inhouse resources to provide the level of cloud and tech support to service these needs. So, we will see a new generation of managed service partners who can ‘follow the sun’ and provide 24/7 support globally, as well as the necessary skill sets for the increasingly complex hybrid and native cloud world that we are now part of. Automation will play a huge role in helping achieve this, but you will still need people round the world who can respond to support needs in minutes not hours or days.
3. Hyperautomation. As part of the digitalisation of the workplace, RPA and automation technology will continue to help unlock productivity and improve digital experiences. It’s all about speed and fast time to value to help drive improved business outcomes.
4. Cloud acceleration. To further meet the demands of the decentralised workplace there will need to be more investment in cloud centric infrastructure, hybrid datacentres and applications for the cloud. Hybrid cloud will be a huge trend as we meet the differing demands of companies who still need some on prem facilities too. We also need to see an acceleration in the development of the skill sets around cloud – the current shortage of skills is holding businesses back. Investment in training and developing skill sets in this complex technology will be key to meeting cloud acceleration.
5. Cloud native app development. Consumers are demanding digital first experiences and connected experiences. We are moving away from lift and shift to the cloud to redesigning for the cloud in a no code, low code way.
6. Security. As we come out of the pandemic businesses are focusing once again on security and asking more questions about it. Hackers have become more subtle in their approach, hiding in corporate networks for longer, waiting for the right time to attack. Using the latest security tool sets and ensuring the right backups and disaster recovery plans are in place and tested is critical to business survival. How do you provide the right level of behind office firewall while offering flexible working outside the office? Also, we are still seeing too many businesses with simple gaps in their security, for example out of date patching, so automation of security will be key.
And woe betide those businesses who don’t have the right employee training in place to ensure all staff know how to keep their tech and business secure. Without a two-pronged approach of using the latest security tech and training businesses will remain vulnerable.
7. Rise of the business technologist. Organisations now need people who know how the business works, the processes involved right through the business, and how technology can transform those processes. Their role is to translate those processes to the technical team. They need to understand the technology at a deep level and understand how the business works to bring together business silos and technology.
8. Rise of ExOps. We’re seeing the rise of the ExOps role where they have specific skill sets to manage different aspects of the tech. For example, the DevOps team for managing the development cycles and IT operations for the development teams. SecOps, for managing security tool sets as well as keeping governance around security tight. DataOps for data management and ModelOps for machine learning will all become increasingly important.
9. Next generation managed services. Automation will continue to enable faster and quicker tech support and businesses will need partners who can provide automation skills as well as end-to-end capability for both on prem to cloud. Companies won’t want to hand off between different partners as it can become very messy. Mid-market enterprises will want to work with managed services partners who have the knowledge and expertise to migrate them to the cloud as well as provide on prem support and everything in between.
10. Sustainability. Corporate social responsibility is now a business imperative and should be leading the business agenda. Technology companies need to demonstrate that they are taking sustainability and a reduction of their impact on the environment seriously. It’s a huge subject and more and more we are seeing customers demanding to know what we are doing.
As an industry, we can’t keep taking raw materials out of the earth as they are running out and digital leaching is ruining our environment. We need to get better fast. Throughout the pandemic, the impact a company has on wider society has been brought into sharp focus. Companies are rightly being judged on their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) activity, including charitable endeavours and how they give back to the local community. In the future companies won’t be on a supplier list unless they can demonstrate their commitment to the environment.
There is a lot for us all to be focusing on in the next twelve months. The key drivers will be cloud, digital and security, and enterprises will need good partners to forge ahead smoothly all while keeping a firm eye on sustainability.