If 2017 was “talk the talk”, 2018 will definitely be “walk the walk”. Last year, the idea of digital transformation was a vague, new promise that was both appreciated and distrusted by the business world. Sure, CEOs, CIOs and IT managers all knew change was coming, but they didn’t think it would be such a great deal. But that was last year. The IT trends of 2017 (including IoT, Blockchain and rising star API) have sunk in, and new legislations like GDPR and PSD2 force companies to re-invent their business. So why not re-invent right now? In this article, I tell you how to crush digitalization using the IT trends of 2018.
The 5 elements of digitalization in 2018
We’ll be discussing quite a few trends in this article, so let me add some structure before you start reading. In order of importance, these are the IT trends of 2018 that I believe will help you become a strong and IT-driven player (and maybe even a sector disruptor):
- API (along with Integration and IAM)
- IoT and smart devices
- Blockchain and personal data hubs
- Microservices and NoOps
- Automated stacks
API First Strategy
Where in 2017 APIs helped you improve your business model by adding new services, in 2018 they will become part of something more important. Driven by new laws like GDPR, companies are required to be more transparent about the way they treat their customers’ data and take extra measures to ensure their privacy. This is where APIs can help you, as they add control layers to all of your access points. All data you gather must pass the API gateway, meaning you can report on what’s been collected and be transparent about it to your customers. Another reason to implement an “API First Strategy” is PSD2. With this directive, banks no longer hold the exclusive rights to their customer’s data, meaning third parties get access to their checking accounts, and use them to create new (and better?) services for their customer base. For example, an API strategy can help you turn into something Accenture calls an Everyday Bank, that takes on a more relevant role in the lives of their customers by being -more than- helpful through useful services and products.
When we look back on the past few years, it’s safe to say that the rise of the Internet of Things didn’t live up to the hype that preceded it
IoT and smartness in general
…speaking of useful. When we look back on the past few years, it’s safe to say that the rise of the Internet of Things didn’t live up to the hype that preceded it. It was taking shape, though, and I think it’s safe to say that 2018 will be the year that things come together. There’ve been amazing developments in the field of battery life and the maintenance of sensors and beacons, which turned IoT devices into disposable objects and lowered cost-of-ownership. Today, the usefulness of IoT technology becomes particularly evident in the B2C market, where it shortens waiting queues at the airport, helps students navigate the campus and traces available wheelchairs in hospitals. It’s thanks to these success stories that smart devices will also become common practice in the B2B market, where they improve efficiency and customer efficiency at the same time. And speaking of smart devices, I believe it’s only a matter of time before everything gets connected, from coffee machine to car, from elevator to highway. Now that the bright minds of this world have figured out the way to do it, why not make everything easier?
People like you and me will become guardians of personal data of people like you and me
…speaking of easier. Although there’s much ambiguity around bitcoins, I predict a bright future for the underlying Blockchain technology. Whereas bitcoins may rise and fall, Blockchain has the ability to disrupt entire sectors in the long run. Take the financial world and healthcare, and their struggle to safely exchange personal data. Thanks to Blockchain, it will become way harder to hack systems and steal data, as there are millions of computers worldwide that check transactions for accuracy. Which is great, as every attempted theft will be blocked by the great public. This means that people like you and me will become guardians of personal data of people like you and me! It all sounds rather unlikely, but now that technology and users are ready, it’s only a matter of time until national governments come up with a reliable and legal framework to put the growth of Blockchain on the right lines. To you I’d like to ask: what impact will Blockchain have on your sector, will you be the first one to make the switch, and how will you make it happen? Those are some nice questions to think about over your Christmas holiday.
Soon, people will be able to share their TomTom sports watch data with their physicians, their car preferences with auto shops, and their salary with the tax administration
The Personal Data Hub
…speaking of things to think about. Who will own the data in the future? New technologies always come with challenges, one them being privacy. More and more companies live on personal data, and use it in all of their offerings. A lot of customers and end-users don’t have a clue about the many details that are gathered each time they visit a website, download a brochure or buy a new car. In 2018, this will change: partly because of legislation, partly because of ourselves, and party because of Blockchain. I think that soon, each and ever one of us will have his Personal Data Hub, or PDH, if you will. You can compare this PDH to an online locker, where you store all of your personal data. This can be anything, from your name, email address and place and date of birth to your energy contract, age, marital status, profession, owned car, the car you fancy and details of items that you purchased online. Currently, organizations have access to many of these details without the owner knowing it. But with the Personal Data Hub, it will be the owner of the data who decides which organization gets access to which data. This owner then gains insights into his data through Blockchain, giving organizations the information they need, but nothing more. Soon, people will be able to share their TomTom sports watch data with their physicians, their car preferences with auto shops, and their salary with the tax administration. Safe, fast, and through one click of a button.
Microservices and NoOps
…speaking of possibilities. Microservices are another great example of IT trends that will turn into real-life applications in 2018. This however doesn’t mean IT specialists agree on their role. There’s been a lot of discussion about the future viability of the Enterprise Service Bus. Some people say microservices will banish the ESB altogether, whereas others say ESBs will evolve and work together with microservices as a team. I got my money on the second prediction, as I think they make the perfect combination. Let me illustrate this with an example. Let’s say a bank processes three billion transactions a day. Most of these transactions contain sensitive information about people and organizations, meaning they should be optimally secured. Having microservices do the transaction is like giving an order to a soldier: they will get the job done without discussion the order with a fellow soldier, or without even thinking about its meaning. After the transaction has been completed, the microservice will vanish like flying dust and passing smoke, simply because there’s nothing left for him to do. This is a very -very!- safe way to exchange data. It gets even better when all of these microservices soldiers are ordered around by a general, that knows exactly what should go where, when and how. The Enterprise Integrator (which is an ESB 2.0) is the perfect candidate for this job. Together with microservices, an EI makes a very viable solution for organizations, especially those that that deal with large amounts of sensitive data.
In English, automated stacks take everything you own, and brings it to your customers faster, better and cheaper
…speaking of viable solutions: I must include a paragraph on automated stacks. This last way of using the technology of 2018 to your advantage is not so much of a trend, but a development none of us can stop. Automated stacks have a growing impact on the business world, making them part of every digitalization strategy. About three years ago, IT specialists started to containerize applications, so they could be easily transported and deployed elsewhere. Today, this phenomenon has evolved into fully automated stacks, where applications are tiny, self-starting environments that get themselves up and running in no time. This development (that goes hand in hand with DevOps, that integrates Development and Operations) has huge consequences, as they help you save out on personnel costs that you would normally need to install, configure and monitor your infrastructures. In the long run, I believe this process will work fully autonomous, turning DevOps into NoOps and the physical IT department into 100% Cloud. The giants of this world have already come to realize this, looking at the features of products like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS). In English, automated stacks take everything you own (data, applications, services) and brings it to your customers faster, better and cheaper. That’s what I call a ticket to the future.
Technology of 2018 & You
Wow. The way I see it, 2018 is going to be a great year for the innovative and brave. Because after all, anticipating trends and developments take courage, especially when they have an impact on everything you do and everyone you work with. At the same time, technologies like API, IoT, Blockchain and Microservices have not been developed to exacerbate the risks, but to maximize your chances of success. So, if I could offer you only one piece of advice, going digital would be it. Read into the five elements that I just described, and ask yourself how they can help you become a better organization. By using the IT trends of 2018, chances are high the upcoming twelve months are going to make a great difference.
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See you in 2018!