7 technologies that CIOs can’t ignore in 2019

EducationSummary: As technology evolves, it plays an increasingly important role in the business world. More than ever, the modern CIO must stay ahead of the ever-changing technology curve, and understand how new technologies might affect their business. What technologies could have the biggest impact on the business world in the coming year? In this article, we explore a few more technologies that the modern CIO cannot afford to ignore.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
— Leon C. Megginson

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That quote–often misattributed to Darwin–applies perfectly to the world of business technology. We’re living in a time of rapid technological change. Those who succeed aren’t necessarily the largest companies. It’s those who adapt.

CIOs and IT leaders should view this evolution as an amazing opportunity. Think about this for a second: Technology has never played a larger role in the business than it does today. Standing at the front lines of technology, CIOs and IT leaders have the opportunity to deliver more business value than ever before. Successful CIOs are those that recognize and adapt to these changing trends.

The big question: What tech trends should you be watching? Which technologies are poised to play the biggest role in the business world in the coming year? While the list could be longer, let’s explore 7 such technologies that CIOs and IT leaders can’t ignore in 2019.

5G (and its impact on your business)

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By now, you’re probably familiar with the concept of 5G. It’s the fifth generation of cellular networking, slowly replacing 4G networks. Scheduled to ramp up deployment in 2019, 5G brings download speeds that are 20x faster than 4G networks.

But, 5G is just the tip of the iceberg. There is far more to it than faster internet. Once 5G is deployed, it will trigger a series of trends. For instance, we’ll see an uptick in:

IoT: Faster download speeds will drive an uptick in connected devices. If your business hasn’t started exploring the potential of IoT, now is the time. IoT is about to explode.

AR/VR: Augmented and Virtual reality has been around for a while now, but hasn’t really exploded yet. One reason for that: AR needs a lot of processing power, and current bandwidth restrictions limit the amount of cloud processing power that’s available. The emergence of 5G will remove this restriction.

Self-driving cars: 5G allows instant communication between autonomous vehicles, propelling the self-driving car revolution.

Remote work: With fast internet access from anywhere, remote work will continue to grow. Remote teams can communicate seamlessly via video chat from anywhere.

Even more video: If you thought video was overused now…just wait. 5G will eliminate bandwidth concerns from mobile video, driving its capabilities even more.

I could go on, as 5G will impact many different areas. The important takeaway: Don’t look at 5G as just faster mobile internet. Look at the far-reaching impact it will have on your business, and how you can take advantage of this technology.

Edge Computing

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Edge computing has been an “emerging technology” for the last couple of years or so. In case you’re unfamiliar with the topic, here’s a great article that describes it in more detail.

The question is: Will it catch on? Why should you care about it in 2019?

Here are two big reasons: 5G and IoT. The growth of these two technologies will push Edge Computing into the mainstream in the very near future.

Why? As touched on above, 5G will drive the growth of connected devices. This influx of data will drive the need for edge computing. This article in NetworkWorld sums it up perfectly: “The influx of additional data – which will need to be processed in real-time – will drive the need for edge computing. Recognized by many as the next significant enterprise tech trend after cloud computing, edge computing refers to infrastructure that enables data processing as close to the source as possible. It allows for faster processing of data, reducing latency and improving customer experiences.”

“Gartner forecasts that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020,” says Nati Shalom, CTO for Cloudify. “Edge computing and networking, while not an old concept, has become a crucial aspect of business at scale. With the inevitable growth of technologies such as AI, IoT, AR/VR, and mobile, it is more critical than ever to bring compute power and network connectivity closer to the end user. However, there are many challenges IT organizations must overcome in order to take the leap such as latency, scalability, and resiliency which can often be solved with technologies such as network automation and orchestration.

2019 and beyond will see sharp increases in edge computing adoption, and it is incumbent upon business leaders and CIOs to ensure their organizations are ready to make the move.”

Blockchain technology

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Similar to edge computing, blockchain has been “the next big thing” for a few years running. But, we haven’t seen it take off in the business world. In fact, only 1% of CIOs responding to Gartner’s 2018 CIO survey indicate any kind of blockchain adoption.

Does that mean blockchain is all hype? Not at all. Experts predict Blockchain will transform everything from digital currency to voting processes to entire economies. It holds massive potential for businesses that understand how to capitalize on the technology.

But, that’s the problem. Blockchain is surrounded with confusion, as it’s a very complicated topic. I won’t get into explaining it here, but here’s a great “Blockchain 101” article if you’d like to learn more. Gartner also has a “CIO’s Guide to Blockchain” that I’d recommend.

Now, am I saying that blockchain technology will explode in 2019? Not at all. However, I include it on this list due to its massive potential. It’s a technology that all CIOs and IT leaders should be learning about and experimenting with in the coming year.

“2019 is the year that IT and the business will get smarter about working together to experiment with blockchain technology,” says Alison McCauley, CEO of Unblocked Future. “There is a huge learning curve in the blockchain space, and yet the potential for disruption is great. Smart organizations understand that if you are going to find opportunity in this technology, you need to get your hands dirty in it–and now. But experimentation needs to be smarter, starting with breaking out of the walls of IT or innovation groups. The most impactful use cases are not going to be identified by technologists alone. Forward-thinking organizations are raising blockchain literacy across the company so that they can get subject matter and process experts to help them understand where the technology will really make a difference now, not just 10 years from now.”

Low-code/no-code development platforms

Citizen development. Low-code development. Self-service development. While this trend goes by many names, there’s no denying its growth.

What does it mean? They are development platforms that let business users create their own solutions. In short, they let IT departments offload some of their development efforts onto the end users, while giving end users the tools they need to build their own applications.

What’s driving the push towards low-code/no-code? What makes it a “can’t-ignore” technology in 2019? It’s driven by a couple of trends:

First, we’re living in the age of digitalization. Almost everything we do–on a personal and business level–is now digital. This digitalization trend will only increase in the coming years.

From a business standpoint, demand for digital solutions is growing. The problem is, IT departments are struggling to keep up. They can’t keep pace with the increasing demand with their current resources.

Second, we’re living in an “instant” world. Users expect solutions right away. They’re not going to wait around weeks or months for solutions as they did in the past. Again, IT departments are struggling to meet these speed demands with their current resources. The demand for web and mobile apps has grown faster than IT’s ability to deliver.

Together, these trends are driving the push towards self-service development platforms. We can expect this trend to grow in the coming year.

“Citizen developers represent a new generation in the workforce,” says Claus Jepsen, Chief Architect at Unit4. “They see technology as a way to create value in their work, opening doors to innovation and higher efficiency, and providing new ways of accomplishing goals. Tools are now emerging that allow them to quickly develop front-end applications that map exactly to the processes used by their organizations and their teams, taking advantage of business data and intelligence that was once relegated to the back office. Vendors are redesigning the software architectures to support this change, enabling customers to build out from the core using loosely coupled microservices so employees can create service-enhancing ERP extensions in their own image. The citizen developer market will be huge in the coming years, but this growth will be driven by citizen developers – not software vendors.”

New UX Technologies

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Pop quiz: Which technology is currently growing faster than any technology since the smartphone? Smart speakers, which are seeing adoption rates grow at a 47.9% rate.

I bring this up to highlight an important trend. We’re in the early stages of the voice revolution. Voice interfaces are the next big thing, and it’s no secret. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are investing heavily in voice technology.

The challenge facing modern CIOs and IT leaders: How can you take advantage of voice technology? How can you implement voice interfaces into your business/products/services? It’s the next wave of UX, and cannot be ignored in the coming years.

“We’re already seeing a big change of focus from UI to modern user experiences (UX) such as conversational UX and focused task apps/UX where the user experience is all about the optimal way to arrive at an outcome,” says Jepsen. “Conversational UX allows the user to have an enhanced experience with conversational systems that are human-like such as enterprise software that leverages chatbots via instant messaging, virtual assistants, and other AI-powered apps and devices that help users get answers to their questions. Focused task UX focuses the design on the specific outcome, while limiting the number of interactions needed for users to complete a task. 2019 will see new strategies from enterprise software vendors focused on building design interactions that people really want to use.”

Progressive Web Apps

Proposed by Google back in 2015, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are poised to change the mobile web. As defined by Google, “Progressive Web Applications take advantage of new technologies to bring the best of mobile sites and native applications to users. They’re reliable, fast, and engaging.”

Essentially, progressive web apps (or PWAs) are web applications and/or websites that feel like native mobile apps. They take advantage of the host of features on web browsers but deliver an app-like user experience. They work offline, provide near-instant loading, and have the ability to send push notifications.

Why is this trend so important?

Since mobile apps first rolled around, businesses have faced a difficult choice: Develop native apps or mobile web apps? Native apps provide the best experience, but are expensive to build and difficult to maintain. They also require a separate app for every operating system. Mobile web apps work across all platforms and are easier to build, but can’t match the native experience.

PWAs offer a viable alternative to native app development. They offer the development benefits of the web combined with the user experience benefits of native. Going forward, they’re poised to change how businesses develop cross-platform applications.

“2019 will be a pivotal year for PWA (progressive web apps), which are now actively promoted by Google,” says Sergei Borisenko, Front-End developer at Beetroot. “The main idea behind PWA is to make websites look more like native apps. They will have new features, like advanced caching, access to push-notifications and to a camera, options to work offline and to add website shortcuts as separate apps on desktops. Google is currently working on creating plugins for various CMSs (WordPress, etc.) to facilitate the development of PWA. The next year will show whether companies and developers pick up this idea or not. If they do, it’ll bring some solid advantages to companies’ tables. Websites with PWA standards will have higher loading speed for pages and illustrations, especially when using mobile internet. In general, PWA implementation should make the web more user-friendly and faster than ever.”

Data discovery and classification tools

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As data-centric security becomes more important, the need for data discovery and classification is growing. What exactly does that mean? In short, companies need to have a clear picture of what data they have, where it is, and how it’s secured. This is being driven by a couple of big trends.

1. Cybersecurity: Data breaches get worse every year, and show no signs of slowing down. The problem is, business data is more spread out and harder to manage than ever. Between personal devices, cloud storage, internal databases, SaaS services, etc… business data is everywhere. How can you secure data if you don’t know where it is?

2. New regulations: The new GDPR regulation went live in the EU this year, and many believe it’s just the beginning. Other countries will likely follow suit in the near future, and this impacts your data in a big way. If your company stores anyone’s personal data, they can request that you delete all personally identifiable data on them. Failure to do so will result in hefty fines.

For these two reasons, we’ll see data-discovery tools take a front-seat in the coming years. Companies need to understand where their data is before they can protect it.

“To succeed in 2019, companies should focus on data protection, and CIOs role is to find the most rational solution to streamline data discovery and classification,” says Steve Dickson, CEO of Netwrix. “With borderless cloud and BYOD-enabled environments and far larger amounts of information, CIOs need to turn from perimeter defense to data-centric security. Even if the company does not store super-secret Nutella recipes or national defense plans, it certainly stores personal data — on employees, customers or both — that needs protection due to tightened compliance regulations and increased attention from the public about the security of their personal information.

The biggest challenge is to know what kind of data the organization stores, where it is located, who has access to it and how it is handled. Thus, data-centric security will drive an increased need for data discovery and classification technologies in 2019. Such solutions will provide companies with contextual awareness to protect business-critical data and prioritize their security efforts. On top of it, ongoing data discovery will enable companies to establish healthy data minimization practices and prune out sensitive data they no longer need. There is no sense to continue taking responsibility for data that has lost its value to the business. Otherwise, the company may be at risk of repeating Marriot’s mega-breach scenario.”

Summary

These are just a few technologies that CIOs can’t ignore in the coming year, but the list could be much longer. Would you add anything to this list? Feel free to comment below!

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