What is Happening?
We turn forward to 2018’s most disruptive developments and trends that will challenge enterprise IT leaders and organizations as they formulate and fine-tune plans for transformation and improvement.
Why is it Happening?
As a result of ongoing discussions with IT providers, enterprise business executives and enterprise IT executives, we have identified key areas that will influence enterprise IT directions and shape the IT market in 2018. We group these 2018 projections into two overarching themes: Technology Transformation and Function Flux. We briefly define and discuss each trend and conclude with some actionable guidance.
2018 Theme 1: Technology Transformation
During 2017, ISG Research analysts saw several trends emerge that we project will combine to create sweeping technological transitions for many enterprise IT environments in 2018 and beyond. The most disruptive trends include the following:
IT infrastructure optimization. The new year will bring nearly ubiquitous efforts by enterprise IT organizations to optimize infrastructure costs, improve responsiveness and increase business value. Most enterprises will adopt a Boundary-free Infrastructure™ consisting of a stagnant or shrinking traditional datacenter, one or more robust private clouds and multiple public clouds (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS).
Process automation. We project 2018 will be a year of rapid expansion in efforts to implement automation. Robotic process automation (RPA) providers will aggressively add machine-learning capabilities to their offerings and many providers will choose partners for support of the new functionality.
Security as a Service. By 2020, 70 percent of enterprise spending for digital security technologies will be for “cloud as a service” automations. And, Security Operations Center (SOC) as a service will become the primary orchestration stage of digital security for more than 75 percent of enterprises.
Pervasive technology. Technologies will intermediate most business functions – from data collection to contract enforcement to product development. As digital projects mature and the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves from selecting components to enhancing customer experience, senior business executives increasingly will accept that IT is the foundation to enterprise growth and digital transformation. Innovation will progress via integration of AI, Blockchain, voice, image recognition, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
SDN and SD-WAN emerge as network standards. During 2018, 35 percent of enterprises will at least pilot software-defined network (SDN) or software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN). This year also will see more SD-WAN pilots move from “first wave” (i.e., DIY) to “second wave” (managed network and service providers) to “third wave” (telco and service providers).
2018 Theme 2: Function Flux
Likewise in 2017, ISG Research analysts observed that the adoption of new technologies for enterprise business IT requires and enables new processes within enterprise IT organizations. We see the most disruptive process impacts as follows:
Automation accelerates IT process transformation. We project that 50 to 70 percent automation of Level 1 and 2 service desk work will be “table stakes” and automation will move to the data center and network. Chatbots, virtual agents and intelligent Q&A will move from prototype to production as call centers rely on virtual workforces. Machine learning projects will start to move from pilot to production and yield a wave of intelligent operational bots. By 2019, enterprise use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for mission-critical business processes will more than triple. The result will be a digital workforce burgeoning from tens of bots to hundreds or thousands in many enterprises.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes an impact. Due in part to what we expect to be substantial fines and penalties for enterprises and providers beginning in 2018, GDPR compliance (which must start with business processes rather than technology) will change data handling and processing by 2020. This will lead to new use cases and wide-spread adoption of processes using cloud-based digital rights management.
Digital transformation gets real. 2018 will be a pivotal year as mature digital transformation projects start to deliver. Enterprises that under-committed to digital transformation will start to feel the impact in their bottom lines, while those that invested will begin to reap the benefits through their ability to maintain competitive advantage.
IoT demands new processes. Exploding numbers of distributed, always-connected and moving assets will break conventional IT organization tools and processes such as the service desk. The result is an upheaval in processes and service models. By YE2019, 80 percent of new IoT initiatives will be core to and specifically called out in digital business transformations.
SDN and SD-WAN go mainstream. Telco and service providers will deliver offerings to enable hybrid networks in which SDN and SD-WAN work in harmony with traditional networks. New tools and processes will exacerbate the skills and process challenges in enterprise IT organizations.
Impact & Guidance
ISG Research expects that widespread and accelerating adoption of new technologies will bring new and disruptive realities for enterprise IT organizations in 2018. These new realities will range from managing provider contracts and service levels to being elevated from being merely a “means to a business objective” to being an “elementary part of the business objective.”
Individually, the new realities will pose formidable challenges. However, their combined impact will be greater than the sum of their parts. Together, the new realities will be a critical mass that will trigger end-to-end restructuring of the IT organization for the first time since its foundation was laid in the 1960s. Enterprise IT executives, who are typically very experienced in overcoming technical issues, may find the skills, staffing, process and structure challenges especially daunting as they strive to re-engineer their organizations in real-time.
ISG Research sees burgeoning potential for providers of the technologies identified above. We recommend that enterprise IT executives seek a partner to help them successfully take on the new realities of the new year.