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5 Digital Transformation Trends for 2019

MSPs helping customers shed legacy ways of doing business must address these areas.

January 10, 2019

6 Min Read
Digital Transformation

By John Newton


John Newton

By John Newton, Founder and CTO, Alfresco

From petroleum and banking to retail and health care, market cap and shareholder value leaders share an important common characteristic. Today’s top global companies have become digital enterprises, re-imagining themselves to better serve customers in an era when the digital world has truly eclipsed the physical world. 2019 promises to be another year of tumult and rapid change, and companies that fail to embrace transformation will find themselves falling behind and replaced by existing competitors which continuously evolve and adapt or by new digital-native challengers that don’t bear the cost or inertia of legacy technology infrastructures. Either way, this new era of business represents an existential threat to old-guard companies that refuse to change.

Consulting firm McKinsey characterizes digital transformation as the process of taking corporate capabilities and transforming them into a platform of services, and, in 2019, “platform thinking” and viewing the company “as an API” will be the strategy and the mechanism that connect business ecosystems and build the world’s first trillion-dollar companies. A new generation of business leaders will be empowered by open data and APIs, as well as open standards and architectures, to rapidly build and implement digital solutions and deliver new services to customers and trading partners.

Five key trends will rule 2019’s digital business world: process will lead digital operations; push-button deployment will help scale digital operations; a DevOps approach will drive the building of digital solutions; artificial intelligence will help automate digital operations; and “a la carte” apps will reduce digital operations cost.

1. Process Will Lead Digital Operations

Digital business initiatives will morph from “content-first” to “process-first” in 2019. Digital initiatives designed to create or re-imagine business processes will be viewed through a “digital lens.” This digital lens into process will illustrate how to best apply technology and better serve users – because without process, digital initiatives cannot even get started.

The new “process-first digital operations” is an approach that revolves around a loosely coupled systems architecture, designed for scale and performance by leveraging asynchronous communications and container-based deployment. Technologies like Kubernetes will enable IT independence, as well as the ability to rapidly scale, whether software runs on-premise or in commercially available cloud environments. Cloud-native tools will enable organizations to scale almost instantly, while delivering any needed capabilities to serve the digital business.

Process automation will also evolve as cloud-native process engines for BPM will be reduced to small, individual parts that can be updated and scaled up independently to create microservice architectures that operate as containers in the cloud. Digital operations will also be affected by new abilities for creation of common data around all activities in digital operations, enabling understanding and common insights from that data, not just analytics on any one particular point. This deeper understanding of business processes within the enterprise and how information is used will facilitate better-informed decisions that support business agility and competitiveness.

2. Push-Button Apps Will Drive Digital Operations

Global scaling of digital operations will evolve as system architectures become capable of scaling up and down with minimal involvement from IT. An emerging “click-and-deploy” model will help tomorrow’s trillion-dollar companies accelerate implementation of solutions that support digital transformation. Cloud migration and containerization will be central to achieving …

… global scale, along with deployment of enterprise-wide capabilities versus use of specific software solutions. Simplification will drive scale, and the future will be “push-button” and platform-based, providing enterprises with all of the elements for achieving scale and rapid adaptability to changing business requirements.

3. DevOps Model Will Lead Solutions Development

Platform thinking and digital transformation are all about the rapid creation of business-driven digital solutions, and in 2019, builders will gain access to capabilities that reflect the DevOps model for achievement of continuous integration and continuous deployment. New tools and capabilities will empower solution builders to iterate faster than ever before, as development environments will include key artifacts, processes, models, actions and connectors, as well as fully-functional test environments that enable rapid runtime staging and deployment of new solutions to production systems. A DevOps-style model will drive faster delivery of business-driven software solutions while ensuring a better experience for builders .

4. Using AI to Automate Digital Operations

Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon automate digital operations, relieving humans of the tedious and repetitive tasks associated with operations management. AI development continues to accelerate because open source capabilities are enabling creation of new algorithms faster than ever before, while the cloud simultaneously makes creation of neural networks faster and more effective. As a result, AI capabilities can and will surpass humans in many areas, and applying AI to the automation  of digital operations – particularly AI’s learning capabilities – will facilitate the development of semiautonomous and autonomous processes that will become commonplace in 2019 and beyond. These processes will parse and classify information, and complex interfaces will ultimately be replaced with simple voice and visual commands. The artifacts of enterprise software, including forms, will be eliminated, and AI will empower humans to do what we do best – innovate and create.

5. A la Carte” Apps Will Cut Operations Cost

Cost reductions in digital operations will be achieved through deployment of digital business solutions as individually provisioned services for better control of enterprise spending. IT organizations will have control over the services they buy and provision, as well as fine-grained oversight of encryption, storage, authentication and policies. DevOps-driven enterprises will further leverage the evolutionary developments of container-based security and will also obtain deployment efficiencies with solutions like Kubernetes. These economies of scale will provide real financial benefits while ensuring that enterprises maintain control of IT spending and achieve business objectives.

Across all industry sectors, the pace of change will only become faster and more intense, creating pressure for companies to transform and do business in new ways. Risk is, of course, everywhere, but tomorrow’s leading companies – whether digital natives or legacy firms – will be the ones which stay focused on an ongoing process of learning, adapting and evolving their IT strategies to meet customer challenges and deliver on digital transformation, no matter what form it takes in the year ahead.

John Newton, founder and CTO of Alfresco, has had a long career in content management. In 1990, he co-founded and led the development of Documentum, the leader in content management later acquired by EMC. For the next 10 years, he invented many of the concepts widely used in the industry today. In addition, he built Documentum’s marketing and professional services organizations in Europe. John has also been an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark Capital and was one of the founding engineers at Ingres, where he helped develop the world’s first commercial relational database. Follow him on LinkedIn or @johnnewton on Twitter.

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