Summary: It’s been a challenging past 2 years for many businesses. CIOs and IT leaders were forced to adapt on the fly as the pandemic stretched on. Many receieved a rude awakening–realizing that they didn’t have the technologies in place to adapt. The big question: What technologies will 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’s been a strange couple of years, hasn’t it? It feels like a pop quiz that turned into a long test.
Back in 2020, businesses got a pop quiz when they were thrust into a remote work environment. The only question: Do you have the digital technologies and processes in place to adapt? Many were unprepared and scrambled to put something in place…just to get by for a few weeks or so.
Then, those weeks turned into months. Organizations began to realize that this wasn’t a short-term thing. Nobody knew how long it would last. Now that we’re nearly two years into the pandemic, the uncertainty is greater than ever.
What can we learn from this?
Prepare for change. As a CIO or IT leader, put your business in a position to adapt. Part of that is understanding how recent events will shape the near future. Another part is keeping tabs on upcoming technology trends. With that in mind, let’s explore some technologies that all CIOs and IT leaders can’t ignore in the coming year.
1. Low-code and no-code development
Citizen development. Low-code development. Self-service development. While this trend goes by many names, there’s no denying its growth. According to these statistics, it’s steadily growing every year. It’s estimated that more than 65% of app development in 2024 is expected to be performed by low-code/no-code platforms.
What is low-code/no-code? They are development platforms that help developers create applications quickly, and let business users create their own solutions. As the names imply, low-code might involve some level of coding while no-code tools require no coding whatsoever. That being said, low-code build processes often don’t require any coding either. But, the option is there if needed.
How do these tools help? They let IT departments create solutions quickly 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 2022? It’s driven by a couple of trends:
First, the demand for digital solutions is growing. Driven partly by the sudden move to remote work, businesses are moving more of their applications to the web. 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.
“CIOs will look for cost-effective ways to digitally transform their operations in 2022,” says Jason Beres, SVP Developer Tools, Infragistics. “As IT departments face challenges such as talent shortages and stagnant software budgets, more will turn to low-code/no-code tools which can reduce development time and save money. With the latest iteration of low-code/no-codetools, both professionals and citizen developers can create new applications,enhance existing ones and automate complex tasks.”
2. Privacy and trust technology
By now, you’re all familiar with GDPR. Back in 2018, the EU created a law to enforce European data protection & regulation rules, and the right to personal data protection. Not only does it apply to EU businesses, but any company that does business with EU citizens.
While GDPR was the first of its kind, many countries have also followed suit. I won’t list all of them here, but here’s a good overview of the different privacy laws in other countries and how it impacts your business.
The big takeaway: This is the future. Data privacy is a huge issue, and other countries/states will create their own legislation. Strict data privacy regulations will soon become the norm.
This makes issues like Shadow IT and data security even more important. IT departments can’t afford to have data floating around that they can’t monitor. Businesses can’t afford to have sloppy data security habits. But most importantly, you’ll need some way to monitor and manage all of these different regulations.
“Compliance and risk management in areas like privacy, cyber security, and data governance are no longer just a “tick-box” exercise to avoid enforcement and fines from regulators, but strategic initiatives that can help drive business value and differentiation for organizations with their customers, employees, investors, and other key stakeholders,” says Katie Thompson, OneTrust. “Trust technology is built to help businesses operationalize these initiatives in a single platform, across many key stakeholders to transform compliance and risk reduction into trust, business value, and competitive differentiation. Through a central data model, agile workflows, and value-based reporting, trust technology helps privacy, security, risk, ethics and compliance, legal, data and analytics, marketing, finance, sustainability, HR and IT teams deliver on compliance and risk management expectations while demonstrating the true value of these activities to your board and executives.”
3. Technologies surrounding the decentralized web
You’ve probably heard the term “Web 3.0” thrown around quite a bit recently. Some call it the next big thing. Others call it a passing fad. What is it?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at where the web is today and where it came from.
It all started with Web 1.0 back in the early 90s. Back then, the internet consisted of static web pages, dial-up web connections, and email. It largely centered around delivering information to users…which was a huge accomplishment at that time.
Web 2.0 was a paradigm shift in how the internet is used. It’s interactive, social, and user-generated. It helped people connect with others across the world and gave everyone a platform to create and share their own content.
That being said, Web 2.0 is not without its drawbacks. The big issues center around the fact that the web currently relies on middlemen. We use social sites like Facebook (a middleman) to keep in touch with friends. We can send money electronically through our banks or apps, which operate as middlemen.
The problem is, we’re entrusting our data in the hands of other companies…which has proven costly. When those companies get breached, our data is compromised. If those companies decide to sell our data to other companies, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Web 3.0 is all about a move away from middlemen. It’s about creating a decentralized web that moves control over to the user. With a change of this magnitude comes some interesting and potentially useful technologies. Now, I’m not here to convince you that any of these are the next big thing or anything like that. But, I do believe that any CIO or IT leader should understand these technologies and figure out whether or not they hold any value for their organizations. Here are a few to keep an eye on:
The blockchain: A blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and shared across an entire network of computer systems (‘nodes’) on the chain. If anything gets added to the blockchain, every node gets updated.
How does this differ from the traditional database?
The advantage of a blockchain vs a database is that there isn’t one single repository of data that can be attacked or changed. Rather, the data is duplicated across many nodes and new data must be verified by others before being added to the blockchain. This increases trust, security, transparency, and the traceability of data. There’s a verified record of everything that happened.
How will it impact businesses in the coming year? Can you bring the benefits of a blockchain to the database? As explained below, it’s not only possible, it’s already happening.
“Blockchains and databases started out as two largely independent technologies. But the desire for immutability, versioning, and lineage tracking has led databases to increasingly adopt the “historical” capabilities more typically associated with blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric,” says Tim Wagner, CEO and co-founder of Vendia. “Amazon QLDB and Oracle’s ledgered offerings are just two such examples. Conversely, companies like Vendia have been adding database capabilities – including transactions, ACID semantics, and read consistency models to distributed ledgers to create an “uber blockchain” with all the speed and capabilities of a classic SQL or NoSQL database. Microsoft Research has also published a paper on how to emulate a blockchain using a conventional database, enabling the two models to coexist. These two worlds, formerly quite separate, are growing closer and closer together over time!”
The metaverse: This is a combination of virtual, augmented, and physical reality. The term became a buzzword after Facebook changed its name to “Meta”, and many still doubt whether or not it’s the next big thing.
Now, I’m not here to predict the future. But, it’s worth noting that VR headset sales have exploded recently and are expected to keep growing. Either way, it’s something that CIOs and IT leaders should at least keep on their radar.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): There’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of NFTs by now, and there’s also a good chance you probably just think that they’re expensive JPGs. But, while they’re largely used for digital art, they can be much more than that.
Wikipedia has a great definition: “A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. NFTs can be associated with reproducible digital files such as photos, videos, and audio. NFTs use a digital ledger to provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership, but do not restrict the sharing or copying of the underlying digital files. The lack of interchangeability (fungibility) distinguishes NFTs from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.”
In other words, an NFT is used to provide proof of ownership. From a business perspective, this could apply in all sorts of areas. They could be used as tickets to events. They could be membership cards. They could be used as a way to provide customers with access to exclusive content or features. The list could go on.
Again, I’m not here to convince you that NFTs are the future. I’m just letting you know that they have use cases beyond art, many of which could bring value to your business. They’re worth exploring at the very least.
Cryptocurrencies: By now, everyone has heard of Bitcoin. It’s one of many crypto currencies and by far the most popular. A crypto currency is basically a collection of binary data that’s designed to work as a medium of exchange. It’s a tradable digital asset that only exists online.
I realize that this can be a controversial topic. Many view crypto currencies as the future while others view them as a scam. However, they are intrinsically linked to Web 3.0 as a whole. Different web 3.0 projects each have their own currency. Digital goods are bought and sold in the metaverse using crypto currencies. Whether or not you believe this is the next big thing or not, it’s worth understanding before you just write it off.
Now, I’m not trying to give you a full explanation of Web 3.0 or anything like that. I’m just saying that change is coming. Some say this is the biggest technological shift since the internet. As a CIO or IT leader, these are technologies that you must at least investigate. This is the time to understand everything you can about what’s (potentially) coming. Read all you can about the blockchain, web 3.0, and tokens. It might be hard right now, but try to understand how this can change your business.
4. ‘Composable’ Applications
I’ve been hearing a lot about “Composable Applications,” a new term from Gartner. They claim it helps organizations deliver innovation and adapt to change faster.
What is it?
It’s just a new term applied to an old concept. Composable applications are made of reusable, modular components. It calls for application ‘building blocks’ which can be reused across other applications.
Is this a new concept? Of course not. Many have been doing this for years. But, is it important for the near future? Absolutely!
The advantages of this approach should be obvious. It leads to:
Faster Development: When you’re creating reusable building blocks and then using those blocks to assemble applications, your development speed increases.
Improved Agility: This approach helps your business adapt to change at lightning speed. Rather than build applications from the ground up, you can build the core and add other premade building blocks. In a time of rapid change (like now), I cannot overstate how important this is.
When you boil it down, composable applications help you adapt to changes on the fly and deliver new applications quickly. But, most importantly, it can give you a great competitive advantage.
“Enterprises that use a modular strategy can outperform their competitors in terms of new feature implementation by up to 80%,” says Daniel Carter, SEO Manager of Skuuudle. “As a result, this is an extension of the composable organization concept, which Gartner claims may help businesses adjust to change.”
5. Cybersecurity mesh architecture technologyCybersecurity incidents are on the rise and show no signs of slowing down. One big reason: The move to remote work has widened the attack surface. A recent study found that 74% of organizations attribute recent business-impacting cyberattacks to remote work tech vulnerabilities.
It should come as no surprise. When employees work remotely, there are more devices for attackers to target. Now, organizations must find a way to spread the security umbrella beyond their walls and devices. They’re responsible for ensuring that their employee’s networks and devices are also secure.
What’s the answer? Gartner claims the answer lies in a “cybersecurity mesh”. They estimate that “By 2024, organizations adopting a cybersecurity mesh architecture will reduce the financial impact of security incidents by an average of 90%.”
What is a cybersecurity mesh? It’s an IT security infrastructure that doesn’t focus on building a single ‘perimeter’ around all devices but instead independently secures each device with its own perimeter, like firewalls, network protection tools, etc… As explained below, it’s an important security approach going forward.
“An enterprise’s data assets and users are more distributed than ever before, and this situation will only grow in complexity in 2022,” says Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer, TRGDatacenters. “The result is that the conventional security perimeter that companies are used to relying on for the protection of their data and computing assets is no longer viable. Companies will need to adopt more flexible and advanced security solutions, top of which is the cybersecurity mesh architecture. It is imperative that CIOs and their IT departments direct a part of their IT budgets towards adoption and implementation of CSMAs in their enterprises in 2022. Failure to do this will continue to increase the financial burden that the company has to bear as a consequence of individual security incidents.”
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!