What is Happening?
Based on our analysis of current and emerging business technology, industry, and market trends and causes, ISG Insights expects 2017 to be the year when “digital business” begins being absorbed into “business as usual,” pushing enterprise leaders and IT providers, into either accelerated business and IT transformation – or competitive decline.
A recent Strategic Perspective published for our premium subscription research clients outlines ten key changes and developments behind this transformation. Those changes and developments are summarized in this Research Alert.
Why is it Happening?
While we see a broad range of business IT changes and developments emerging through 2017, we find ten that are most likely to force fundamental change in how enterprises do business, and how they procure and manage business IT – and in how IT providers do business as well. The ten are as follows:
- “Digital Business” becomes just “business.” Digital transformation is rapidly becoming a normal state of business. By YE 2017, it will be important for all aspects of business to shift their thinking away from Digital Business being something separate or compartmentalized, and toward a larger, more integrative vision. This will require increased synchronization between the changing IT organization and all aspects of business operations – not just Finance and strategic planning.
- Digital Labor settles in. While the applications and effects will differ by firm and by market, 2017 will bring an acceleration of mostly-software-based “robots” in more areas of business than ever before. This will include a changing variety of mixed digital and human functionality. Today, we see most such automation is taking place in enterprise IT and Finance organizations, with some increasing activity in HR.
- Workforce management and Talent 3.0. While enterprises look to more automation and outsourcing to reduce reliance on human-focused functionalities, they will also create more complex and non-standardized mixes of software- and services-provided labor. The resulting complexity of labor management will increase costs, and trigger business for outside providers who can improve the management of said complexity.
- IoT swallows Enterprise IT. In essence, the IoT (including the Industrial Internet of Things) will become the connectivity hub for the majority of enterprise information technologies that collect and feed data stores for analysis. The core data connectivity, distribution, storage, and analysis function of the traditional IT department, in effect, gets “swallowed” by IoT; IoT thus becomes the de facto enterprise IT architecture.
- IoT / IIoT as an economical way to extend legacy infrastructure value. As a result of “swallowing” enterprise IT, we will see IoT capabilities help to prolong and even enhance the lifetime and value of many legacy systems. In most IoT / IIoT environments, greater current business value (including operational and process efficiency improvement) will be derivable from existing infrastructure – and help to extend legacy equipment and system lifespans. This will cause enterprise IT and business leaders to re-think workload migration as well as investments in traditional and Cloud-based infrastructure.
- Agile operating models go mainstream. Given all of the above, we will see traditional business and IT operating models clearly demonstrated as obstacles to necessary innovation and business growth. In 2017, agile and iterative models will start to shift from experimental stages to be competitive table stakes for businesses seeking expansion. Like “digital business” becoming “business,” “agile” will become the IT and enterprise operating norm.
- Shadow IT grows closer to being “real” IT. While “shadow IT” has always been present, Cloud IT adoption and adaption has driven massive shifts in technology and services buying growth outside of traditional channels. As this behavior becomes mainstream through 2017, we see enterprise IT procurement approaching a tipping point, where Shadow IT shifts into being considered “real” IT throughout the enterprise. This forces traditional enterprise IT organizations to quickly adapt – or risk being restructured into primarily support roles.
- As-a-Service buying surges. Systems of engagement are critical enablers of a digital business transformation. These types of platforms are increasingly being delivered via As-a-Service delivery models that prioritize speed, productivity and innovation over cost reduction -the traditional outcome sought by outsourcing buyers. Therefore, As-a-Service buying will continue to increase, while traditional sourcing will stay relatively flat. This will add disruption for traditional service and technology providers, while steering enterprise buyers to more IT buying/usage options.
- The de facto decline of business software upgrading. We are seeing a substantial, sharp increase in the number of longtime enterprise software users (and buyers) considering Cloud sourcing instead of upgrading core, legacy applications and supporting databases. This is a huge reversal of long-standing IT industry trends. The economic case for rip-and-replace is becoming better – and the more legacy software vendors try to force upgrades, the more likely user enterprises are to weigh replacing them. In 2017, we will see this “get real” as enterprise business and IT leaders begin to flex their preferences for Cloud-first solutions over legacy upgrades.
- Cost management initiatives demand and drive CFO-CIO unification. The business benefits of digital transformation will be limited or even unattainable without improved alignment, synchronization, and operations at all levels between enterprise Finance and IT organizations. We have been encouraged by recent initiatives toward more converged CFO and CIO approaches as regards IT cost management. But in those firms where these groups – and leaders – are not in synch, expenses will spiral out of control while competitive capabilities improve only in fits and starts.
Everything is not suddenly changing in 2017. But our analysis of patterns, trends, and causes make it clear that 2017 will be the year when provider-side IT-as-a-Service, and enterprise/user-side IT adaptation and business innovation, really begin synchronizing. This will put transformation (and disruption) in enterprise IT procurement, usage, and management into overdrive. It’s been a bumpy ride to this point on the digital journey; from here through 2018 at least, we expect it to be more of a roller coaster.
ISG Insights will be examining each of these ten developments and changes thoroughly throughout the year (and beyond), and providing insights, guidance, and best practices regarding each. Look for upcoming series of research note and reports covering disruptive technologies and providers, models and guidance for aligning changing software and services needs with vendor/provider capabilities and offerings, and summary insights and guidance from our advisors and consultants based on real-world experience among hundreds of enterprise clients and provider clients.