The Chief Technologists at Softcat are in the privileged position of seeing what is happening across its range of customers – large and small, commercial and public sector – as well as being exposed to the futurology of its vendor community.
Based on this intel, this is what they see coming next in the world of business technology…
Data and Emerging Technologies
Craig Lodzinski, Chief Technologist for Developing Technologies at Softcat:
“Intelligence and insight are going to get even bigger in 2019. I’m not just talking about cutting edge developments in areas such as AI and Machine Learning but adding increased intelligence to the whole IT estate.
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“More and more solutions now offer telemetry that can help with predictive maintenance and support – for example, printers that can order their own toner. We now have more data than we know what to do with; the big trends moving forward will be turning that into insights and using it to improve operational efficiency and user experience.
“2019 will also be the year of the network. Rich Media continues to grow, and systems are becoming more distributed as hybrid operations become the norm. This places huge strain on networks and technologies such as SD-WAN, SDN, 100GbE, NVMeoF and 5G will start to come to the fore as organisations seek to alleviate bottlenecks presented by the network.”
Data centre and Hybrid Cloud
Dean Gardner, Chief Technologist for Cloud at Softcat:
“The development of hybrid cloud solutions and integrations will increase from the traditional on-premises hardware and software vendors who will continue to build alliances with the major public cloud providers.
“App transformation will continue to drive organisations forward, but governance, security and cost controls will become a major factor with traditional infrastructure teams, so re-skilling across those existing teams will be essential.
“IT organisations will be accelerating the development of Marketplace models for customers and resellers to use as part of the procurement chain.
“Organisations will start to actually understand the use cases for Platform as a Service offerings in public cloud and to pin point where these services can replace Infrastructure as a Service models.
“Hyper-converged will become the default way of modernising on-premises infrastructure.
“‘Serverless’ use in public cloud will also accelerate and organisations will start to build out functions to replace services hosted on Virtual Machines.
“AWS and VMware will make a lot of noise when Outposts is available and will try to have a significant impact, via the channel, on the traditional datacentre market in late 2019.”
Adam Louca, Chief Technologist for Security at Softcat:
“Identity and Access Management will continue to be the major investment for organisations as cloud adoption hits critical mass and organisations become more comfortable with, or at least accepting of, multiple SaaS applications (many of which will likely be purchased without IT involvement).
“Organisations will wake up to the significant cost implications of poorly or incorrectly assigned permissions in a per user licensing model, which will lead to a much more complex identity environment across multiple application providers.
“This in turn will drive a need for automated tools and delegated administration workflows to ensure IT operations teams don’t become swamped with leavers, movers and joiners requests.
“Password breaches and phishing attacks will continue to be the biggest threat to most organisations as attackers take advantage of the migration of internal systems and data to external providers. Most users still will ignore good guidance and advice and use the same password everywhere.”
Customers and Strategy
James Seaman, Account Chief Technologist at Softcat:
Public sector organisations will continue to work at removing legacy (and often unsupported) applications from their estates; specialist providers will be required to fill the gaps. We would expect ‘centres of excellence’ for particular functions to emerge, potentially acting as service providers to other public sector organisations.
Corporate organisations will come under increased pressure to review and publish a strategy to their board so they can secure investment for future projects in that context. With technology end of life dates building up, it will be critical to make these decisions in the context of a cohesive plan and not as a knee-jerk replacement initiative if funds are to be unlocked.
Adam Harding, Chief Technologist for End User Computing at Softcat:
“Organisations will put a greater focus on measuring and improving employee sentiment, enablement and empowerment, using data-driven behavioural analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning as tools.
“Data will be at the heart of everything and is key to organisations being able to make good decisions about products, services, employees, strategy and more. Data democratisation will become increasingly commonplace.
“Mobility will be a given, seamless collaboration and interconnectedness between people, services and processes will be the focus.
“AI and machine learning will start to filter out the noise, disruption and distraction of the irrelevant information that people are bombarded with on a minute-by-minute basis. We will start to personalise our enterprise and consumer app alerts, messages and notifications in the pursuit of the more productive moments of deep focus.
“The old adage of keeping your virtual desktops near your data will continue to stand, so AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud will see virtual desktop consumption increase exponentially.
“Workspace-as-a-Service style offerings from AWS Workspaces, Citrix, VMware (and at some point, Microsoft), will be the preferred route for most organisations as you can drop the expense and complexity of the I of VDI. For those wanting the keep their virtual desktops on-premises, there will be increased usage of cloud control, management and data planes to manage those on-premises workloads.
“IT-as-a-Service will become increasingly desirable as it delivers the ability to scale up and down quickly based on changing business requirements. It will also continue to provide organisations with access to the latest technology via a consumption model that they can afford.
“Machine learning will be used to proactively surface poignant actionable information before an employee is even aware it is required.
“Natural language processing and sentiment analytics will continue to improve dramatically over the course of 2019. Chatbots and AI will help automate mundane tasks such as text dictation, team collaboration, employee calendar management, customer service and help desk management.
“Augmented and mixed reality will start to build momentum for workforce training; virtual reality is still in most industries still awaiting critical use cases.”