As 2021 draws to a close and the world eagerly awaits the shift to the endemic era, exponential technologies will persevere as vanguards of business transformation. Across sectors, companies will persist with the adoption and advancement of their deployment journey of cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Agility, scalability, time-to-market coupled with security and compliance at the core would remain key primary drivers for cloud adoption.
So, in 2022, here are the top trends and shifts we anticipate in these technology domains.
Hybrid cloud as dominant architecture: An IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study revealed that 99 percent respondents in India are leveraging varied combinations of hybrid cloud, indicating hybrid is the dominant architecture for enterprise cloud estates. This is driven by the need for secure open cloud environments to avoid vendor lock-in while giving them the flexibility to test capabilities and benefits offered by different cloud providers. In this multi-cloud environment, consistent monitoring, security posture, regulatory compliance, billing and license management, and workload optimisation will become critical, resulting in the explosion of new tools and platforms.
Microservices and open source to aid modernisation: To stay ahead in a competitive landscape, businesses will accelerate their modernisation journey by embracing microservices and open platforms like RedHat OpenShift as they move further into their hybrid multi-cloud journey. They will evaluate their IT environments to select workloads and applications that are best suited for the cloud and identify those which must remain on-premises. In the year ahead, businesses will accelerate their mid-back office transformations and migration of mission-critical and core applications to the cloud.
Security will be front and centre: With increased ransomware cyberattacks on IT infrastructure, companies will realise the need to establish zero tolerance for trust in their security strategy. They will invest in solutions that secure their crown jewels and protect their data through a single point-of-control, providing a holistic view of threats across environments. As quantum computing grows stronger and poses potential risks, such as the ability to break encryption algorithms and access sensitive data, enterprises must look beyond near-term threats.
Weaving data fabric into hybrid multi-cloud: Data fabric is emerging as the most innovative new architecture to apply AI in one place without companies ever having to move their data. A data fabric architecture is neutral to data processes, environments, usage and geography and integrates core data management capabilities. It can help businesses investing in AI, machine learning, IoT, and edge computing get more value from their data.
Automation to augment workforce: Companies that will survive future disruptions will not necessarily be the fittest, fastest, or strongest but the most adaptable. Business operations must now be dynamic, and interconnected to the workflows and the ecosystem. Intelligent automation helps optimise processes, personalise customer experience (CX), and enhance decision-making to allow employees to engage in higher-value tasks. This includes leveraging AI for IT automation to help companies with real-time detection and automated response to IT incidents for faster resolution.
AI to advance customer care and stem supply chain disruptions: Virtual agents will become even more critical as we will see automation integration to complete tasks, while AI will have a bigger impact on customer experience (CX). AI-driven automation will also play a huge role in mitigating supply chain disruptions to make the process more agile and efficient.
Embedding intelligent workflows for advent of virtual enterprise: We will see the accelerated emergence of the virtual enterprise as the next-generation organisational and operating model. A golden thread of intelligent workflows, which connects ecosystem participants for shared value is the force behind a virtual enterprise. It re-evaluates the need for infrastructure and talent while opening the potential for extreme digitalisation, extended value chains and new partnership approaches.
Industry clouds will become mainstream: As companies grapple with security and compliance, industry-related regulatory requirements remain a significant obstacle. Adhering to these requirements is especially important for highly-regulated industries such as financial services and government agencies. As these industries strive to meet the demands of today’s digital-first customers, cloud adoption is evolving towards specialised clouds, which can deliver significant value with continuous compliance with data privacy regimes. By choosing the right platform – one with built-in controls – they will be able to innovate at the pace of change, ensuring they don’t get left behind.
Better insights at the edge with AI: Businesses will increasingly leverage AI closer to the data source with edge computing to act on insights and optimise workflows in real-time. Combining with 5G and edge computing, AI can potentially transform business, as it provides greater data control, reduced costs, quick insights and continuous operations. Communications services providers are turning to AI-driven automation to deliver faster and better CX.
Climate and environmental technologies to the fore: With businesses committed to achieving their 2025 sustainability goals, we will see bedrock adoption of AI-powered environmental solutions. Companies will invest in and leverage environmental platforms to monitor and manage their sustainability goals. Another emerging area will be the usage of carbon APIs to gauge the carbon footprint across the supply chain. AI will play a key role in helping achieve sustainability benchmarks through greater measurement and data collection, improved predictiveness and better supply chain resiliency.
Automation will redefine software development: As automation becomes key to deploy at scale with consistency, companies will invest more in DevOps and SRE while embedding security right in the middle i.e., DevSecOps and not as an afterthought. With the evolution of citizen developers, we will see an increase in low-code or no-code platforms democratising app development. While low-code requires little formal coding experience, no-code allows users to create enterprise applications through drag-and-drop interfaces promoting rapid application while enabling scalability and fuelling innovation.
Today, companies are accelerating the adoption of new business models, moving their workloads to the cloud and digitalising their operations. We expect hybrid cloud and AI to play a fundamental role in driving innovation necessary to build resiliency and open new opportunities for them.
About authors: Shalini Kapoor is a IBM Fellow - AI Apps at IBM India Software Labs & Girish Dhanakshirur is a IBM Distinguished Engineer & CTO at IBM India Software Labs.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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