For a provocative look into the near future of technology applications in business, we asked leading members of the SAP ecosystem to share their prophecies. For CIOs, who are rapidly evolving into an advisory role, the demands increasingly call for tough decisions on where to invest: what technologies, what skills, what new business models? Here’s what our gurus have to say.
Mala Anand, SAP, President, SAP Leonardo and Analytics
2018 will be the tipping point for cloud analytics with the growth of cloud data and applications. This trend will fuel demand for end-to-end cloud analytic platforms that deliver a rich set of analytic capabilities to discover, plan, predict, visualize, prepare, collaborate, model, simulate, and manage while leveraging common data logic. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model offers business a way to take advantage of continual product innovations in a seamless experience with a common user experience, and will address analytical requirements throughout the organization at a lower TCO vs. fragmented solutions that cause inconsistencies and distorted data views.
Christine Ashton, SAP, Digital Office ERP Cloud, Global Chief Digital Officer
2018 will see a fundamental shift in the role of the CIO in businesses that recognize the value of instant, limitless scalability and immediate access to innovation. Postmodern CIOs will become innovation leaders with a seat – and a key voice – among the C-suite. This will mean:
• Moving from operating IT to innovating business operations
• Swapping owning software for leveraging interlocking cloud ERP solutions across an ecosystem
• Shifting from managing teams to growing an inclusive, confident workforce
• Changing the focus from keeping the lights on to delivering differentiation
The driver behind each will be to equip successful, business-wide digital transformation.
Mark Barrenechea, OpenText, CEO and Chief Technology Officer
As IoT-connected devices push the limits of the cloud, a new paradigm where the cloud and edge computing meet will emerge. Edge computing moves processing power closer to the source of data, sending only data worth keeping to the cloud. Reducing costs and stored volumes of IoT-related data, the device itself will process time-sensitive data, quicker and with reduced network latency. As the number of devices continues to increase, edge computing will push the cloud into a supporting role. Together, the cloud and edge computing will provide the infrastructure needed to support the ever-expanding IoT universe. @markbarrenechea, @opentext
Brian Berns, Knoa Software, CEO
Most companies have little to no insight into how their employees are interacting with their ERP software. This lack of visibility is very costly, as it directly leads to a decrease in employee productivity. In 2018, businesses will increasingly adopt user analytics to gain insight into employee engagement with their software suites. This trend will be accelerated by the move to cloud and mobile enterprise solutions, as well as by the increased importance of user experience for a new generation of knowledge workers. User analytics are bound to become a key technology for IT organizations, which will enable them to measure application usage and identify inhibitors to adoption such as clunky user interfaces, process complexity, and heavy customization.
Orlando Cintra, SAP, SVP, SAP Cloud Platform, Latin America & Caribbean
Companies and C levels will realize that IT is the solved part of the equation. That said, they will turn a lot of attention to proving real business cases with high value so they can innovate with real purpose. Companies in an on-premise model will start to see their costs increasing dramatically compared with the cloud, since all the major players’ investments are going to cloud. Finally, innovation experts, data scientists, tech gurus, and specialists with good track records with success innovation projects will be in demand. The market will not produce talent to meet the expected demand. Companies In the niche to prepare new professionals will have big growth.
Ratnang D. Desai, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Managing Director
2018 will be the year when rapid evolution of technology will force organizations to “Reimagine Everything.” It is not enough to simply reengineer a business process. IT will play a critical role in helping organizations reimagine how disruptive technologies such as cognitive, cloud, and blockchain will fundamentally transform all functions. IT will take the next big step in its transformation, as well. IT and the business will work as true partners and collaborate seamlessly to quickly harness the power of disruptive technologies and turn it into a sustained competitive advantage. @ratnangdesai, @DeloitteSAP
Archana Deskus, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Global Chief Information Officer
We live in a hybrid data and compute world, requiring flexibility and new architectures with sophistication to span edge to core, enabling distributed machine learning systems to distill end-to-end data insights. Increasingly, we will see the use of machine learning to turn that insight into action, in real time, enabling the hypercompetitive enterprise to disrupt business models and industries to create new experiences and revenue models. None of this will be possible without powerful, future-proof software-defined and memory-driven infrastructure that is consumed in novel, flexible ways. Outcomes as a Service will be the ideal IT delivery model going forward.
Mark Dudgeon, IBM, Global SAP Chief Technology Officer
I expect to see adoption of SAP S/4HANA ramp up significantly in 2018, with SAP S/4HANA Cloud providing an increasingly relevant option for organizations. Blockchain will be an increasingly hot topic, with a number of cross-industry and line-of-business use cases starting to come into mainstream – resolving issues with fractured ecosystem networks, providing transparency and single version of the truth across enterprises. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (AR) are niche technologies in the world of business IT, but I expect to see the use cases expanding beyond training and education into areas such as service and maintenance.
Mike Golz, SAP, Senior Vice President and Regional Chief Information Officer, Americas
As digital transformation takes hold and disrupts more industries, companies need to move from declaring it as critical (78% according to a recent Oxford Economics study) to truly committing to a digital strategy (currently at a dismal 3% in the same study). Whether the change primarily affects a company’s business model, its business processes, or the way people work, the underlying technologies, like machine learning, human/digital interfaces, IoT, or blockchain, are fairly well understood by now. Look no further than your phone. Chances are that you are using them as a consumer today. 3-D printing might look like an exception to consumerization; however, my insoles are based on iPhone pictures uploaded to an app.
Paul Lewis, Hitachi Vantara, Chief Technology Officer, Americas
During 2018, the nature of the CIO’s job will change from the role of “delivery executive” to that of “IT business executive,” realigning the focus from project status and infrastructure uptime to delivering on the three business imperatives. These are: operational efficiency, new customer experiences, and diversified business models of the corporations’ digital transformation strategy. People development will also become the primary consideration for innovation in IoT, AI, and cloud, which are creating a necessity to upskill, re-skill, and replace expertise and experience across disciplines by utilizing platforms to access partner ecosystems of talent, technology, and information.
Greg McStravick, SAP, President of Database and Data Management
Data will continue to explode in 2018. Gartner predicts that 95% of new products will contain IoT capabilities, and that means companies will have to contend with a deluge of information even more voluminous than we see today. Organizations that have taken a wait-and-see approach to data management will be bulldozed over by those that made the early investments to make sense of it. Systems that enable data sharing, pipelining and governance along with intelligent machine learning and artificial intelligence in one connected landscape will be a game changer for every organization that wants to remain competitive. @McStravickGreg
Nathan Pearce, Capgemini UK, SAP Practice, Business Development and Innovation Lead
In 2018, we will witness another year of disruptive technologies. In particular, machine learning, combined with AI and data, will change the game in consumer engagement and personalization to help drive loyalty and advocacy. There will also be further developments upon VR and AR across many sectors. @npearce111
Manik Narayan Saha, SAP, Regional Chief Information Officer, APJ
Customers’ digital experience will continue to drive prioritization for companies around engagement, purchase decisions, and brand loyalty. I expect to see higher polarization between companies offering a great digital experience. AI will start to have an impact on traditional business processes – especially relating to back-office, shared services, and mid-office functions. Cloud will become the de facto standard to run the digital enterprise. Except in regulated industries, there is now even less of a compelling argument not to move to cloud-based services, and benefit from scale, agility, and speed. And I will be closely watching to see how the tech industry responds to EU GDPR, and helps customers make a successful transition. @maniksaha
Thomas Saueressig, SAP, Chief Information Officer, Global Head of IT Services
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will grow out of its experimental, early-adopter stage and hit the tipping point to broad adoption. Intelligent services will expand from consumer focus and supporting processes into the core of the enterprise and will become mainstream by 2019. The most underestimated theme I see will be the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It will gain momentum in 2018 and eat up a fair amount of enterprises’ innovation capacities. Finally, advances in technology will not only shift our focus to other aspects of the services we offer, but will drastically change the way we work. New innovations are disrupting the status quo with exponential speed, requiring us to continuously adapt and learn.
Ronald van Loon, Simplilearn, Advisory Board Member & Big Data and Analytics Course Advisor
In 2018, machine learning applications will continue to mature, with each vendor featuring a domain-specific solution. Organizations need fully integrated, end-to-end data management platforms to handle increases in different data streams, including deep learning applications, while having the ability to transform this data into actionable insights. AI and deep learning applications in voice recognition and video analytics will also accelerate. Edge analytics will progress, corresponding with the massive increase in connected devices. It provides real-time analytic solutions at any point where data is generated, addressing data management challenges related to large amounts of data that can’t be centrally analyzed.
We invite you to stay tuned to the Digitalist Magazine to see where 2018 takes us. Best wishes for a productive and prosperous New Year.
Where will technology take finance in the coming year? See How Finance Is Thriving In A Digital World: 17 Experts Share Their 2018 Predictions.