Many of us in enterprise IT and software markets are heads down working on cloud, social platforms, mobility, the ever present security challenge, analytics, and the daily operations of running our enterprises. We sure have our hands full! Of course, if we don't keep an eye on what's on the horizon, we can be caught flat footed and lose badly when new trends overtake our current operation. And do all this while improving the operations efficiency and lowering the cost of delivery. To avoid these bad outcomes, we must force ourselves to keep an eye on what's ahead. Here's 3 trends to keep in mind.
More software is getting smarter, although there's still a long way to go
The advent of new mathematical models, continued broadband proliferation, and still massive reductions in compute power / cost ratios are enabling more enterprise software solutions to incorporate more advanced analytics within their solutions.
However, be careful here. As a discussion with a recent industry analyst indicated, in many situations, "Advanced Analytics" isn't really very advanced yet. Many of us have been doing lots of analysis on lots of data over the years. The edge is where truly new methods are processing truly new, step function increases in data volumes, in real time (or near real time for you sticklers) and delivering unique, new operational and business benefit as a result of these new techniques.
It's not enough to have basic visualizations of data or information captured in graphs and charts of dashboards. The advanced analytics space has new means to sift through the massive volumes of data "noise" to identify patterns and to predict, relatively accurately, future events that can enable users to get ahead of the game.
An example of a smarter system that recognizes related events and offers the user a better experience as seen when calling an airline and the system offering a refund or rebook option on a flight that is delayed or cancelled without waiting for the user to navigate thru several options and achieve the same.
And enabling actionable insights in real time is often the real win. To research further, you can do searches on key terms like "Advanced Analytics" or "IT Operations Analytics." Analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester, EMA, TRAC Research, and others are beginning to build their practices in this area.
From Call Center to Crowd Support, Multiples of 100's
While the trend to open up systems beyond call center agents directly to consumers has been going on for a while, the volumes flowing through these systems originally designed to support hundreds or thousands of users is now step order functions higher in terms of concurrent users and transactions per second. It is no longer acceptable for enterprise software vendors to design for the call center operation model. Main frame systems are becoming bottlenecks in this changing landscape with the accelerating growth in transaction per second and concurrent user rates.
For example, a client was experiencing 400 transaction per second peak volumes just a couple years ago on one of their core business application platforms. Last year that value was 800 and the forecast for this coming year is 1200 transactions per second. Enterprise software must be designed massively differently to keep track with a trend that many analysts are now suggesting will change by orders of magnitude in just a short time frame.
Think about the Internet of Things (IoT) where all sorts of devices will be processing transactions and requests independently of users. For each person we considered a user just a few years ago, there will be tens or hundreds of "bots" acting on behalf of that person, making adjustments to thermostats, turning on and turning off lights at homes, sending alerts for various services like phone usage levels, re-ordering supplies when food items inventories are low in the fridge or when laundry detergent is low in the wash room. And that list does not even take into account enterprise use cases.
An example of huge volume increase is seen in the micro and small payments going cashless and the transactions coming to hit the banking and card systems. The design of these systems have to evolve to have layered accounts which allow flexible authentication and audit needs and also do a lot of in-memory data store.
Use of NoSQL or unstructured databases and the interfaces to interact with them is one clear example of how enterprise software needs to evolve to accommodate these trends. Test your vendors. Run load tests on 100x levels of where you are today to accommodate future volumes that will be running through your operation. And ensure those advanced analytics are integrated to help you figure out if/when something is wrong as early as possible.
Next Generation Compliance
A large, global bank based in the Mid-East recently faced a requirement by the European Union to put in place a local data center to meet European Union privacy requirements. In lieu of deploying a very expensive redundant data center, this company was able to apply advanced data masking software techniques to separate end user personal information from data that had to be transmitted back to the corporate banking systems housed in the Mid-East.
Enterprise software solutions are going to need to all get more savvy and more creative about how to cost effectively resolve the tradeoffs between enabling clients to deliver world class service, respond to real security threats, and address regulator concerns.
As I travel the world serving very large enterprises who manage the most sensitive forms of consumer behavior, I'm seeing more focus on addressing security and compliance issues than ever before. In a post 9-11 world, with breaches of massive credit card databases, global networks of terrorists and hackers, alleged nation-state hacking attacks (think SONY), and governments catching up with the latest trends, there are real issues we must address with new and different approaches,new ways of thinking.