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As digitisation transforms business and creates challenges and opportunities for leaders across the organisation, IT leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to lead the business to digital success.

Assembly’s expertise in technology and IT management uniquely equips us to be a trusted guide along your digital journey to help you successfully deliver the projects that are crucial for accomplishing your most important business initiatives.

Digitalisation puts information technology at the centre of business growth, placing greater scrutiny on IT performance. IT collects lots of performance metrics, but if you’re like most IT leaders, you struggle to make those metrics meaningful to those outside IT. CIOs have been trying for years to convince senior business leaders to modernise and take full advantage of technology. Now, many roadblocks have been removed, and the majority of boards are prioritising these initiatives.

2021/22 will provide huge opportunities for CIOs to play a leading role in digital business acceleration. This year’s top strategic technology trends highlight those areas that will drive significant disruption and opportunity over the next five to 10 years.

Selected for their transformative potential, this year’s trends fall into three themes: people centricity, location independence, and resilient delivery. IT leaders must decide what combination of these trends will drive the most innovation and strategy for their enterprise.

“The unprecedented socio-economic challenges of 2020/21 demand organisational plasticity to transform and compose the future.”

People centricity: Although the pandemic changed how many people work and interact with organisations, people are still at the centre of all business. And they need digitalised processes to function in today’s environment.

Location independence: COVID-19 has shifted where employees, customers, suppliers and organisational ecosystems physically exist. Location independence requires a technology shift to support this new version of business.

Resilient delivery: Whether it’s a pandemic or a recession, volatility exists in the world. Organisations that are prepared to pivot and adapt will weather all types of disruptions.

As always, the strategic technology trends do not operate independently of each other, but rather build on and reinforce each other. Combination innovation is an overarching theme. Together they enable organisational plasticity that will help guide business in the next five to ten years.

Trend 1: Internet of Behaviours

The IoB is about using data to change behaviours. With an increase in technologies that gather the “digital dust” of daily life — data that spans the digital and physical worlds — that information can be used to influence behaviours through feedback loops.

For example, for commercial vehicles, telematics can monitor driving behaviours, from sudden braking to aggressive turns. Companies can then use that data to improve driver performance, routing and safety.

The IoB can gather, combine and process data from many sources including: Commercial customer data; citizen data processed by public-sector and government agencies; social media; public domain deployments of facial recognition; and location tracking. The increasing sophistication of the technology that processes this data has enabled this trend to grow.

IoB does have ethical and societal implications depending on the goals and outcomes of individual uses. The same wearables that health insurance companies use to track physical activities to reduce premiums could also be used to monitor food purchases; too many unhealthy items could increase premiums. Privacy laws, which vary from region to region, will greatly impact the adoption and scale of the IoB.

Trend 2: Total experience

Total experience combines multiexperience, customer experience, employee experience and user experience to transform the business outcome. The goal is to improve the overall experience where all of these pieces intersect, from technology to employees to customers and users.

Tightly linking all of these experiences — as opposed to individually improving each one in a silo — differentiates a business from competitors in a way that is difficult to replicate, creating sustainable competitive advantage. This trend enables organisations to capitalise on COVID-19 disruptors including remote work, mobile, virtual and distributed customers.

For example, one telecommunications company transformed its entire customer experience in an effort to improve safety and satisfaction. First, it deployed an appointment system via an existing app. When customers arrived for their appointment and came within 20 metres of the store, they received two things: 1) A notification to guide them through the check-in process and 2) an alert letting them know how long it would be before they could safely enter the store and maintain social distance.

The company also adjusted its service to include more digital kiosks and enabled employees to use their own tablets to co-browse customers’ devices without having to physically touch the hardware. The result was a safer, more seamless and integrated overall experience for customers and employees.

Trend 3: Privacy-enhancing computation

Privacy-enhancing computation features three technologies that protect data while it’s being used. The first provides a trusted environment in which sensitive data can be processed or analysed. The second performs processing and analytics in a decentralised manner. The third encrypts data and algorithms before processing or analytics.

This trend enables organisations to collaborate on research securely across regions and with competitors without sacrificing confidentiality. This approach is designed specifically for the increasing need to share data while maintaining privacy or security.

Trend 4: Distributed Cloud

Distributed cloud is where cloud services are distributed to different physical locations, but the operation, governance and evolution remain the responsibility of the public cloud provider.

 “Distributed cloud is the future of cloud.”

Enabling organisations to have these services physically closer helps with low-latency scenarios, reduces data costs and helps accommodate laws that dictate data must remain in a specific geographical area. However, it also means that organisations still benefit from public cloud and aren’t managing their own private cloud, which can be costly and complex. Distributed cloud is the future of cloud.

Trend 5: Anywhere operations

An anywhere operations model will be vital for businesses to emerge successfully from COVID-19. At its core, this operating model allows for business to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere — where customers, employers and business partners operate in physically remote environments.

The model for anywhere operations is “digital first, remote first;” for example, banks that are mobile-only, but handle everything from transferring funds to opening accounts with no physical interaction. Digital should be the default at all times. That’s not to say physical space doesn’t have its place, but it should be digitally enhanced, for example, contactless check-out at a physical store, regardless of whether its physical or digital capabilities should be seamlessly delivered.

Trend 6: Cybersecurity mesh

Cybersecurity mesh is a distributed architectural approach to scalable, flexible and reliable cybersecurity control. Many assets now exist outside of the traditional security perimeter. Cybersecurity mesh essentially allows for the security perimeter to be defined around the identity of a person or thing. It enables a more modular, responsive security approach by centralising policy orchestration and distributing policy enforcement. As perimeter protection becomes less meaningful, the security approach of a “walled city” must evolve to current needs.

Trend 7: Intelligent composable business

An intelligent composable business is one that can adapt and fundamentally rearrange itself based on a current situation. As organisations accelerate digital business strategy to drive faster digital transformation, they need to be agile and make quick business decisions informed by currently available data.

To successfully do this, organisations must enable better access to information, augment that information with better insight and have the ability to respond quickly to the implications of that insight. This will also include increasing autonomy and democratisation across the organisation, enabling parts of the businesses to quickly react instead of being bogged down by inefficient processes.

Trend 8: AI engineering

A robust AI engineering strategy will facilitate the performance, scalability, interpretability and reliability of AI models while delivering the full value of AI investments. AI projects often face issues with maintainability, scalability and governance, which makes them a challenge for most organisations.

AI engineering offers a pathway, making AI a part of the mainstream DevOps process rather than a set of specialised and isolated projects. It brings together various disciplines to tame the AI hype while providing a clearer path to value when operationalising the combination of multiple AI techniques. Due to the governance aspect of AI engineering, responsible AI is emerging to deal with trust, transparency, ethics, fairness, interpretability and compliance issues.

Trend 9: Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation is the idea that anything that can be automated in an organisation should be automated. Hyperautomation is driven by organisations having legacy business processes that are not streamlined, creating immensely expensive and extensive issues.

Many organisations are supported by a “patchwork” of technologies that are not lean, optimised, connected, clean or explicit. At the same time, the acceleration of digital business requires efficiency, speed and democratisation. Organisations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy and business agility will be left behind.

Talk to one of our team today to learn more about our capabilities; how we’re bringing people, business and technology together; and what this means for you.