2017 uses technology to reimagine business in a more efficient, innovative and agile way

Digital transformation reshapes every aspect of a business, and over recent years this has evolved to become a central component of modern business strategy. There are three fundamental effects of digital innovation: experience and engagement, business innovation, and the secondary effects that result from increased digital capabilities.  

Over the coming months, as digital technology continues to evolve, I believe organisations will be forced to explore the secondary effects of digital disruption and use technology to reimagine their business and embrace new ways of working in a more efficient, innovative and agile way. With this in mind, here are my predictions for the top ten technology trends for 2017:

Existing digital technology platforms will evolve
Digital platforms, interoperable sets of services brought together to create applications, provide the basic building blocks for a [digital] business. There will be growth in each of the five major digital technology platform types to enable the new capabilities and models that characterise today’s digital business. 

The information system platform, which supports the core business and back office; the customer experience and engagement platform; the analytics and intelligence platform; the integration and real world [IoT] platform, which connects physical assets for monitoring; and the business process automation and orchestration platform, which facilitates inter and intra business operations.  

Organisations (companies and public bodies) will become increasingly able to deliver their business using an ever more mature ecosystem of loosely coupled [software and data] services. 

Big data will get even bigger
Data is the lifeblood of every business, and 2017 will see it truly recognised as a dominant force. Services will be increasingly subsidised by the value of the data and venture capital will continue to attract data rich sticky start-ups. Existing investments in software (and hardware) will be an ever-increasing challenge and could risk becoming an anchor rather than an asset. 

Transforming these assets so that the systems and data within them can be freed to maximise value will be an increasing challenge – and opportunity. Innovation will continue with developments in data pipelines and intelligent analytics creating sources of new value. As the platforms become more capable, the options increase and legacy application modernisation will gain importance.  

Intelligent apps will be introduced into the workplace
I expect most of the world’s largest companies to begin to exploit intelligent apps, which are able to perform some of the tasks a human assistant would typically complete, for example, virtual personal assistants (VPAs). 

By combining advances in AI technology, with the full toolkit of big data and analytics tools, companies will refine their offers and improve customer experience. These intelligent apps therefore have the potential to transform the structure of the workplace by making everyday tasks streamlined and more effective.  

The Internet of Things will develop into Intelligent Things
For years, there has been much talk of the revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology and now that bigger companies such as Google, Amazon, Samsung, Apple… are getting involved, I expect to see major advancements in the coming year. 

Existing IoT devices will evolve and support a new phase of digital business; they will start to become smart by default and companies will battle to be the hub (central controlling service) to which everything else connects (becoming very sticky and aggregating all the valuable data in the process).   

Intelligent things, seamlessly controlling and optimising our environment and systems, gathering data at every stage will come together with digital platforms, augmented reality, process automation and artificial/augmented intelligence to power the next wave of innovation. 

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology will move beyond gaming
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology has made major gains in 2016. Oculus Rift was released and Pokémon Go had over 100 million downloads. 2017 will see VR and AR become more mainstream as the technology matures and early adopter Beta developer-only hardware turns into useable consumer products with an increasingly viable software ecosystem. Businesses will start to use VR and AR in areas going beyond the demos and pilots that exist today, such as training scenarios and remote experiences.  While Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also become increasingly credible, it won’t yet deliver on what will be over hyped in the short term. Proof points, whilst being real and delivering value, will be exaggerated and relatively primitive in nature. 

Cloud services will gain momentum
Cloud services, already well established, will gain momentum and start to dominate discussions – leaving DIY infrastructures increasingly the choice of die-hard industries/teams. It is certainly not the end of on-premise, but the arguments will become increasingly balanced in favour of hyper-scale cloud providers for those in the market for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The public sector will be encouraged to share services e.g. with schools turning into academies and multi-academy trusts and consuming student information systems (like Progresso) as a service in the cloud. 

There will be an increase in serverless architectures
Serverless architectures, which allow you to build and run applications and services without having to manage infrastructure, will grow in popularity in 2017. Independent software vendors will move away from using IaaS, increasingly moving to self-scaling services with application containers. This will be led by cloud providers creating increasingly rich (and sticky) platform ecosystems. 

Intelligent process optimisation
Public services including healthcare, education and local services provision will be further challenged over the coming year as demand stretches already pressured budgets. Technology in the form of Robotic Process Automaton, as well as intelligent process optimisation, will start to make an impression as early pilots prove successful. An example of this in operation is Odyssey triaging 111 service needs for the ambulance service in East Midlands – itself saving £40m in one year, enabling the trust to deliver a better service for all.  

Wearables and employee health will gain traction
Wearable technologies and IOT are gaining significant traction. The next 12 months will see them move from early adopter and open source hobbies, to consumer ecosystems for the next wave of smart home/office enthusiasts and businesses looking to leverage existing infrastructure investments. While battery life will improve, it will still hold back the ability to fully deliver on its eventual ubiquity. In the meantime, apps will continue to provide the mainstream movement towards seamless enrichment and augmentation of our real world. Wearable devices will continue to mesh with healthcare and big data, too. By 2020 it’s estimated that 40 per cent of employees could cut their healthcare costs by wearing a fitness tracker. Additionally, using gamification can help inspire employees to stay fit and relaying the data to a health and fitness analytics platform will allow enterprises to make more informed choices among healthcare benefits and insurance packages, potentially reducing expenses, while providing value to employees. So the coming year will see organisations taking big steps to make healthy lifestyle a part of company culture. 

Adaptive security architecture will become a requirement
Last, but not least, technology companies will be forced to focus more on security platforms and layers. The evolution of intelligent digital mesh, digital technology platforms, and application architectures, combined with the addition of the IoT frontier, means the threat landscape is expanding exponentially. Consequently, multi-layered security and use of user and entity behaviour analytics will become a requirement for virtually every enterprise. Security teams will need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects to be more fluid, agile and adaptive, and consider security early in the design of every facet of the business.

Jon Wrennall, CTO, Advanced
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa