For IT decision makers, last year instilled a renewed sense of urgency when it comes to technology adoption. Only businesses with clear long-term strategies and the will to execute can thrive amid a highly competitive landscape.

In 2020, don’t expect that sense of urgency to die down. Instead, the path industry blazed to get here indicates more investment, introspection and aggressive transformation strategies are in store. 

Over the next 12 months CIO Dive expects data insights will shape C-suite agendas, as leaders spend their days fending off cyberattacks and maximizing the efficiency of their workforce. In the vendor market, leading players will integrate and connect where they can, but continue to compete tirelessly to expand their cloud market presence.

What do you expect to see in 2020? Email us at [email protected]. In the meantime, here are 6 predictions for business technology in 2020:

#1. Data will enter the C-suite

Data is the new oil. Data is currency. Data makes the world go round. 

Industry is buzzing about the merits of data, but workloads are difficult to manage and databases are chock full of data stuck in legacy settings. 

It appears data is everywhere, but companies don’t know what to do with it, how to manage it, or how to strategically collect it. 

That is why data needs to take a role in the C-suite. Rather than appointing a chief data officer, though some companies will go that route, more organizations will weave data into business operation decision making. 

To effectively do so requires appointing IT leaders with backgrounds in data and crafting realistic strategies for collecting and capitalizing on data. 

Increasing the role of data-based decisions will lead to more successful digital transformation efforts and allow companies to avoid modernization pitfalls.

#2. Slack, Microsoft will have to play nice with collaboration vendors 

With saturated markets in technology, vendors will further adopt the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mindset. 

Last year, Slack built “bridges” for email users who are not on its platform. By inviting email users to Slack, the company is able to introduce, and encourage, further platform adoption.

Slack also launched Microsoft 365 integrations, as it did with other competitors, including Google. But Microsoft and Google have something Slack fundamentally lacks: bundling capabilities. 

Microsoft and Google are conglomerates. By default with bundled services users don’t have to leave their cocoon. 

The vendors that thrive on niche customers are working to expand their reach in different ways. ServiceMax acquired Zinc in February and RingCentral bought Glip several years ago to become an alternative to market leaders Microsoft Teams and Slack. 

How employees collaborate will influence what platform companies adopt. Vendors know this, and they will try to market themselves as API-friendly as possible. 

#3. Microsoft will eat away at AWS’s public cloud market share

As the cloud pioneer, AWS has held on to the cloud leadership mantle for a decade, outranking enterprise specialists — in 2018 its public cloud market share more than tripled the next closest competitor, Microsoft.​

But times, they are a changing. Microsoft boasts a robust sales force and is making inroads in converting long-term clients to move mission-critical workloads to the cloud. 

As the cloud market leaders AWS, Azure and Google Cloud reach market parity, Amazon’s stranglehold will loosen. Think too about how many workloads are still not in the cloud — Forrester says one-fifth of enterprise applications are in the cloud; recent Goldman Sachs research puts that number at around 23%.  

For vendors, it’s a chance to encourage existing customers to move more applications to the cloud, expanding commitments with vendors. With enough progress, Microsoft could jump significantly, as much as 10 percentage points, and capture 25% of the public cloud market. 

That doesn’t mean AWS will lose its lead. With almost half of the overall public cloud market share, per Gartner’s numbers, it will likely stay ahead of other vendors but drop a few percentage points each year.

#4. Data breaches will be more expensive and more dangerous

Consumers have little sympathy for companies who mishandle data, whether it was intentional or negligent and breaches hit 2019 hard. It was dubbed the “worst year on record” for breaches, usurping 2016. 

But this year things will get trickier because the stakes are higher. 

California’s privacy law went into effect on Jan. 1, compelling companies with California customers to adjust, if not, overhaul their policies. The financial implications of the California Consumer Privacy Act could be much graver than fines (up to $7,500 per individual) previously handed down by the Federal Trade Commission

On top of new fines, organizations are facing a particularly cruel blend of ransomware and data breaches. 

Last year ransomware operators began threatening data exposure or solicitation if a ransom went unpaid. Now, entities targeted by ransomware could also have a data breach. Security and data privacy have never been more tightly woven.

#5. To Google Cloud’s advantage, ‘explainable AI’ will become key weapon in the cloud wars

In 2020 and beyond, the use of artificial intelligence is practically expected of companies in every field. Leaving development in this field up to the competition means giving up market share, efficiency and profitability advantages.

But as oversight from governments and consumer interest in ethics rise, a higher number of companies will showcase their AI’s explainability as a competitive factor. Given the number of workloads taking place in the cloud, this will especially benefit providers who lean into the concept, with Google Cloud at the head.

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The concept of explainable AI dictates that every machine-made decision must be supported by logic that a human expert can understand. This framework adds a layer of transparency to the process, removing the “black box” component from the equation and helping people understand which data inputs prompt specific outcomes.

Companies in search of increased customer engagement and improved public perception will aim to showcase this aspect of their technology as consumers become more aware of their privacy rights.

This, in turn, will impact vendors. At the end of 2019, Google announced the availability of an explainable AI capability as part of Google Cloud. In the coming year, expect the company to lean harder into this feature as it executes its plans for expansion.

Interest will also spread to pure-play AI vendors, who will invest in the development and marketing of similar features within their platforms.

#6. Software development duties will expand to non-technologists at Fortune 100 companies

Given its presence in the realm of business software, watch Microsoft’s moves closely.

The company ended 2019 by doubling down on the concept of tech intensity, a way for companies to solve problems through building tech solutions internally, instead of adopting software. 

Low-code platforms fit in closely with that philosophy. Tools in this space range in scope and complexity, but most share a common purpose: to allow non-software developers to build software using visual interfaces.

At industry-leading companies, the duties of non-technologist roles will expand to include some software development, by way of low-code platforms that enable simple iteration.  

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Though low-code tools have long served technologists in search of quick iteration and prototyping methods, in 2020 and beyond expect these platforms to expand their reach, finding their way to more sides of the business. Sales executives or account managers could build simple software solutions to address the pain points of their daily work. 

As thirst for tech talent grows, low-code solutions also stand to ease the pressure on developer teams, by streamlining routine work and increasing productivity.



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