Around the start of every new year come a bevy of predictions about what’s coming (or what someone, or some vendor, or some analyst hopes is coming) in the year ahead. Rather than do that, based on recent conversations with many CIOs, I’ve collected what I think are imperative to-do’s for CIOs and IT leaders to ensure their enterprises can innovate in the years ahead.
If you don’t already have these in your crosshairs, here are four tech imperatives for 2016:
Action Item 1: While IoT gets the buzz, groom those mobile app backlogs
The world has gone mobile. That’s no secret. Mobile analytics firm Flurry found that business productivity apps grew 125 percent in 2015, because most every employee today is armed with a mobile device and more comfortable than ever working on mobile devices. And mobile enterprise investments will continue.
Currently, however, most enterprises still have considerable mobile backlogs. In the year ahead, it’s imperative they address those backlogs. This investment in mobile apps will continue, so enterprises must clear through the clutter and groom their mobile app backlogs. This year you’ll hear more and more about the Internet of Things, or IoT. (I know, I know, how can we expect to hear more about IoT in ’16 than we did in ’15? Trust me, we will.) Companies first must focus on enterprise and productivity-enhancing apps, while planning and preparing systems and plans for the expansion to IoT.
In the next few years, IoT will include access to wearables and their data, enterprise office equipment, office buildings, cars and virtually anything else that can be tethered to the Internet. But, for now, the focus for most enterprises must be on clearing their mobile app backlog and grooming their mobile app pipelines, and then setting the stage for the architecture that will be required to support their eventual IoT efforts.
Action Item 2: Get a tight focus on micromoments
These days, employees are making every second of the business day count, even when they’re away from their desk. Most employees aren’t sitting, working in front of computer monitors; today, most everyone is on the move and spending more time working on small-screen tablets and smartphones. This has changed how we interact with each other—and our applications.
Today, workers have short exchanges in text or on social media, short discussions on the phone, and short interactions with their apps. Rather than settling in and computing at a desktop PC, we are computing on our mobile devices while we walk office to office, or are waiting in a conference room for a meeting to start. We are computing, more than ever, in “micromoments.” Guiding developers to develop strategically for mobile is still an imperative for CIOs this year.
What do I mean? Development teams must ensure their apps are built so users can engage in the context of their moment, based on their location, the task they are undertaking or perhaps the time of the day. Thus, apps must be developed so that data can be entered quickly and easily and consumed readily. And the micromoments app experience must be congruent with those on notebooks and tablets, when people typically are settling in for longer stretches of work and concentration.
Action Item 3: If enterprises haven’t already, they need to develop their IoT brokers and management platform strategy
All of those IoT devices we mentioned above will need to be managed. This will require cloud-based platforms that will:
- look at the data,
- protect the traffic from being attacked,
- accept legitimate traffic,
- dispatch it to where it needs to go,
- save the appropriate data for long-term analytics,
- send other data for real-time analytics and response, and
- enforce security and privacy policies.
Managing the security, storage and traffic will be a strategic effort in the years ahead, and the groundwork needs to be set sooner rather than later.
This year is the time to build the strategy for your enterprise’s IoT platform strategy, so the IoT data can be managed properly and management can scale as the use of IoT grows. Think this won’t apply to you? Think again. Gartner predicts that there will be more than 25 billion IoT devices by 2020, up from 4.9 billion today—and a good portion of them will be enterprise IoT devices.
Action Item 4: Create the data-driven culture
Big data analytics has touched nearly every aspect of business, from health care, with data-driven medicine saving hundreds of millions annually, to electric utilities managing the grid more intelligently, to helping marketing teams understand and pinpoint their target audiences with more intelligence and precision than ever before possible.
What’s often forgotten about big data analytics is that success here is about much more than databases, storage, dashboards and data scientists. It’s as much about creating a data-driven culture in which decision-makers in the organization are motivated to make the most of the data and analytics to move the organization forward in the best way possible. Strategically, CIOs want to create this culture, make as much data as possible available to employees, and deliver the data to them in the context of their roles. They want to develop platforms that democratize the data to as many people as possible so they can seek the insight they need.
Enterprises today already have a lot of the critical data in their software, ERP systems, employees and customers. In the years ahead, IoT devices will create additional tsunamis of data to be analyzed and acted upon for strategic advantage in the earlier years and to simply maintain the status quo in the years beyond. That’s why it’s so important to get this on the strategic radar today.