Having been in the heart of the technology universe for over 6 years, I’ve seen many trends come and go.
Certain trends — like Google Fiber and Pebble — get a lot of buzz for a short period only to fade into the background. I remember when Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), for example, was briefly hailed as the ultimate mobile internet solution that would revolutionize how we use the internet and cellphones.
Eventually, newer technologies came along and rendered it obsolete.
More recent trends like cryptocurrency have also taken a beating. A Boston College study of firms’ Twitter activity after their initial coin offerings found over half of cryptocurrency startups fail within four months of this milestone.
But turn down the noise, and you’ll find there are a few promising trends quietly emerging — or in some cases, re-emerging — in the tech industry.
Here are five you need to know:
1. The intranet rises again.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the death of the intranet in general.
Intranets are painted as archaic vestiges of the past — a network that companies pursuing success in the era of digital transformation should have nothing to do with. The intranet is often associated with a stereotyped idea of old-fashioned interfaces from a decade ago, characterized by ugly design, unilateral communication, and poor content sharing. Cough, Sharepoint, cough.
But intranets are not dying.
Rather, the intranet is experiencing a re-imagining. Instead of static homepages, think of intranets as the surfacing of relevant data from many disparate systems.
This is the modern intranet.
Services like LiveTiles and GetGuru are retooling the intranet to provide teams the ability to connect disparate business apps in an intuitively designed digital workplace compatible with Microsoft Office 365 or SharePoint on-premise.
And that makes for a seamless experience across devices, between departments, and beyond time zones.
In 2019, there’s no reason not to take advantage of this new wave of intranet tools.
2. RPA and the enterprise is still trending up.
In recent years, CIOs of large enterprises have been turning to an emerging technology called robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline operations and reduce costs.
With RPA, businesses can automate mundane processes and enable business users to devote more time to serving customers or performing other high-intensity work. Many see RPA as a stopgap en route to intelligent automation via machine learning and artificial intelligence tools, which can be trained to make judgments about future outputs.
Digitization can sometimes seem out of reach — or intimidating, at the very least — to smaller enterprises. But this year, you’re going to start seeing RPA trickle down to small and medium-sized businesses.
RPA improves the operations and service offerings of your mid-range company while, at the same time, sparing you from excessive financial risk. RPAs can take over entire workflows or simply complement the work of human employees. And by automating repetitive and time-consuming work, employees are able to take on more meaningful responsibilities.
In short, RPA can save costs in a way that other tech implementations can’t.
3. Integration apps are here to stay.
According to a Deloitte survey, 52% of respondents said they couldn’t make information-backed decisions because the data they needed is trapped in siloed departments. That’s why the “data integration problem” is one of the most popular and pressing topics in tech today.
But now, software as a service (SaaS) and integration apps are becoming an increasingly popular way of solving this issue.
With manual coding, there’s not likely to be any documentation of where the stored procedures are. They’re scattered across multiple databases, meaning you don’t know how they’re interconnected and neither do the developers. But integration apps provide code management, process management, and built-in documentation.
Integration platform as a service (IPaaS) represents the next generation of application integration.
IPaaS is a suite of cloud services that enable integration flows connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations. In other words, it’s an integration product that runs in the public cloud and is managed by the vendor.
4. Worker shortages are driving the need for remote and elastic resources.
Research shows that 70% of employees in the companies surveyed worked remotely at some point during each week and another 53% for half of the week or more.
To get a good job today, workers still have to live in larger cities, but the rising cost of living — particularly for housing — in urban centers like New York, Beijing, London, and San Francisco means that many people can’t afford a high quality of life.
But tech has also enabled people from all of the regions of the world to quickly and cheaply connect online, making it possible for workers to live in places they can actually afford. The result is a talent shortage in major urban areas.
That’s why businesses today need to make sure
they’ve got the tools they need to accommodate the changing workforce.
Cloud-based technology like video conferencing and collaborative documents provide the infrastructure and tools to work together from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Slack, Asana, and Zoom are also great tools for keeping your team keep in touch and on track. And I may be biased, but a workstream collaboration tool acting as the foundation of everything is incredibly useful — and will only become more so in the future..
As top talent spreads geographically, elastic resources may be the key to staying innovative in your industry.
5. B2B companies will start to look a lot like media companies.
All business people are familiar with marketing a product. We spend countless hours trying to create materials to attract and keep customers by communicating that our products provide value.
But the digital revolution has completely changed the way we reach potential customers.
Old marketing tactics like TV ads, direct mail, and billboards just don’t have the same impact anymore, particularly when selling to other businesses. In a world with unlimited competition for attention, you need to find a way to meet your audience where they’re already spending their time — online — and providing content they can’t help but pay attention to.
One way to do this is to make content that’s genuinely useful, inspiring, or just plain entertaining — and so valuable that you can market it in the same way you would a product.
Podcasts are a great way to do that. The epic success of Serial shows just how influential they can be. Media companies like Gimlet, which just sold to Spotify produce award-winning podcasts, and B2Bs should look to these sorts of teams to give customers something they can benefit from in a meaningful way.
If you can master content creation, you’ll really stand out. This is what media companies have been doing for years — creating and distributing content to the public that helps them build audiences.
Innovation in the tech industry moves at a breakneck pace, and your relevance and success will be directly proportional to your ability to keep up.