The sixth annual Deloitte Tech Trends report has been released and examines disruptive technologies with the best potential to impact businesses irrespective of size, industries, and geographies within the next 18 to 24 months.
"The trends underpin an ideal blueprint for the 'now', starting with the customer and employee as the obvious centre of any company's universe. From core system renaissance to quantum computing, our role in the world as human beings is changing rapidly," says Tim Bishop, Deloitte digital director.
"This year's report illustrates the extent to which business and IT have fused. Based on extensive research spanning the globe, Tech Trends 2015 has particular relevance to Africa as many of the trends herald a fundamental shift in how technology is used within the organisation. Even though the existing challenges across the continent are significant, especially when it comes to adopting technology into traditional business practices, the cost of ignoring these trends could be significant," says Kamal Ramsingh, technology leader at Deloitte Consulting Africa.
The research process identifying the trends included feedback from executives on current and future priorities, input from Deloitte industry and practice leaders, crowdsourced ideas from the global Deloitte network of practitioners, and perspectives from industry and academic luminaries.
The eight trends are:
1. The CIO as integration officer
"The CIO as Integration Officer is very topical. And while the position continues to evolve with integration at the core of its mission, there is still a significant lag on the continent to CIOs becoming very strategic. It is time for the CIO to step into this mode and become involved in the business and not just be passive technologists," says Ramsingh.
2. Ambient computing
Ambient computing represents the backdrop of the sensors, devices, intelligence, and agents that can put the Internet of Things (IoT) to work. This is something that is relevant to all businesses, says Ramsingh, with the technology and skills available locally to start implementing for the long-term benefits. "This puts intelligence to the IoT and layers analytics and insight over raw telemetry data. Ambient computing resonates not just with devices that are connected but also brings the likes of big data and cloud into play. While it is a very relevant trend for Africa, bandwidth is still the main concern," he says.
3. API economy
The application programming interface (API) economy provides organisations with agility around their software integration needs and can extend the lifespan of their legacy applications. With this, the core assets of a company can be reused, shared, or resold extending the reach of existing services.
4. Dimensional marketing
"We are seeing this connected environment drive consumers who are looking for even more tailored offerings from retailers and other businesses. Dimensional marketing will take what is happening in the digital world and help redefine relationships and the understanding of what the customer really wants. This modern era is bringing with it new dimensions of customer engagement and insight that need to be embraced," adds Ramsingh.
5. Software-defined everything
The fifth trend, software-defined everything, is focused on the advanced happening across infrastructure and operations. With the entire operating environment - that includes network, storage, servers, and applications - able to be virtualised, automated, and orchestrated, infrastructure will become a competitive differentiator.
6. Core renaissance
"Throughout the world, organisations have made significant investments in their core systems. A lot of IT spend is focused on keeping the lights on. Part of this core renaissance trend is to establish strategic partnerships and build from a heritage of standardised data and business processes. While some sectors have embraced this, others like the public sector as an example, need to get involved or be left behind."
7. Amplified intelligence
The growth and reliance on data has seen analytics techniques increasing in complexity, applying machine learning and predictive modelling to increasingly massive and complex data sets. Amplified intelligence takes analytics, big data, and machine learning, and adds an increased depth of understanding that can benefit any organisation. This results in more effective decision-making but requires a technology maturity which might still be lacking in Africa.
8. IT worker of the future
"The IT worker of the future is happening all around us. With millennials entering the workforce, their expectations of employment and how technology is used within the organisation will mean human resources and company structures need to move beyond a legacy-based mentality. Companies in Africa, and the rest of the world need to start factoring this into how they employ."
"However, this does not mean decision-makers need to blindly start implementing technology to solve their business challenges. Many of these trends need to be experimented with. Fortunately, the barriers of adoption are slowly being whittled away. Even bandwidth is becoming more accessible in Africa and mobile data more affordable. This is now about embracing change and looking for the opportunities it presents," concludes Ramsingh.