As the curtain falls on 2018, the stage is set for another year of technological and organisational change as businesses strive to stay ahead of their competitors. In the new year, we’ll see a real awakening in businesses as small step changes prove to not be enough. After all, digital transformation relies first and foremost on a cultural shift, not technology implementations.
In order for organisations to get good at change, the culture within IT needs to shift as does the relationship between IT and the wider business.
If organisations wish to survive, the main role of IT should not be to keep the lights on. IT needs to be central in every business’ top-level strategy, fostering a culture of self-service so teams can drive their own innovations without being bottlenecked by centralised knowledge.
If treated as an asset, not a cost center, IT has the power to change the way organizations win.
Below are five technology trends that I predict will impact businesses in 2019:
1: Self-Serve IT Will Go Mainstream
In most organisations, IT continues to operate as a project order taker. Teams across the business often work in silos, building new capabilities from scratch or buying quick fixes when issues arise. As a result, projects are often delivered inefficiently, due to duplicated efforts or unnecessary spend. To keep up with the speed of digital transformation in 2019, organisations need to change the way they operate and shift IT from a tactical function to a strategic business partner.
To fuel this shift, IT needs to change how its building blocks are created. IT should encourage teams to build assets in widely consumable ways versus one-off efforts. Then, it should drive teams toward a default mindset that what they need from IT may already exist and can be self-served in an enterprise marketplace of IT assets. By aligning development teams with this new mindset, a strong bank of reusable, externalizable API building blocks will grow into a powerful application network, allowing CIOs to decentralize IT and empower the business to move faster.
2: Cloud Integration Will Mature
In 2019, the relentless march to the cloud will continue. However, most organisations have so far lacked a coherent, long-term cloud strategy. More often than not, new cloud services get deployed reactively. It results in cloud deployments that are messy and often dependent on point-to-point integrations. In a cloud-native era, vendor lock-in and traditional point-to-point integrations leave enterprises with tightly coupled and fragile architectures that prevent organisations from being adaptable.
In today’s digital world, it’s clear organisations need to build for change. In 2019, we’ll see more organisations start to look inwards to modernise their core so they can compete in today’s cloudy world. Organisations will need to modernising legacy systems, so they can co-exist with cloud infrastructure and applications. This is best achieved through an application network underpinned by APIs, which are language agnostic and can decouple on-premises system data from system-specific complexity. As a result, we’ll see APIs increasingly become an intermediary between legacy systems and the cloud.
3: Legacy Systems will Get a New Lease on Life
In many established organisations, legacy systems continue to underpin critical operations, but hold the business back from keeping up with new generations of legacy-free competitors. MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report 2018 revealed that 42 percent of organisations cite legacy infrastructure and systems among the top three challenges to digital transformation. Nowhere is this felt more strongly than in financial services, where 92 of the world’s top 100 banks still rely on the mainframe. Meanwhile, more agile fintech firms continue to emerge, vying for market share.
In 2019, we’ll see more organisations breath a new lease of life into their legacy systems to innovate faster. Rather than trying to rip and replace or connect legacy systems to modern services with rigid integrations, we’ll see businesses plug legacy systems into their overall application network with APIs. As a result, organisations will establish an integration layer between legacy systems and new-age applications and devices, where data can securely flow across the business and be reused to speed up development time.
4: The C-suite Gets Serious About API Ecosystems
As the Venn diagram of business strategy and IT strategy almost completely converge, more of the C-suite will be getting educated on APIs and how they help power ecosystems and new business models. This is going to create urgency for organisations to have a defined API strategy. Measurement will be critical to show that early investments are helping companies leverage their existing assets, streamlining partner engagements and on-boarding. Business leaders will push to figure out revenue models, but for most this will not take hold until their organisation gets good at creating and serving API ecosystems internally.
5: Blockchain with Take Hold in Niche but Important Use Cases
For all the hype around blockchain and crypto-assets, we haven’t seen much uptake in the enterprise yet. This will change in 2019, as blockchain is used to help broker complex B2B transactions where it can streamline the interaction between multiple parties and build trust into the network. This will remove the need for each company to use human power to track, validate and de-risk transactions. We’ll start to see this in manufacturing and distribution in heavy industries like chemicals and energy.
Amidst all these technology trends, APIs will be at the heart of the new culture that emerges, providing a common language that enables systems, applications and devices to seamlessly share data. In this sense, 2019 will truly be the year of the API.