5 enterprise tech trends for 2016

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As Sonian’s greater mission is to help enterprise IT migrate from on-premises systems to the cloud, we know that archiving and information governance workloads are the first to “move on up to the top.”

To better serve our customers, we’re always working to identify enterprise technology trends that are at the beginning of the adoption curve. Here are five we’re keeping an eye on in 2016:
2016 is going to be an exciting year for technology!
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1. IT becomes the department of “yes”
IT’s influence has waned in many organizations. IT, by their own admission, became the department of “no.” It’s ironic, considering IT previously was the group that brought innovation to their respective businesses – innovation that delivered distinct competitive advantages.

But even IT couldn’t keep up with the pace of innovation and fell victim to legacy thinking and was viewed by line of business managers as obstructing progress. That’s why Salesforce.com, Workday, Hubspot, Intacct, etc. took off. There are more than 1,400 enterprise SaaS apps that can be procured without IT involvement. Sales, marketing and other line of business departments grew tired of waiting for IT’s approval and began to go around IT. Researching, purchasing, and implementing their own solutions, they pushed the IT gatekeepers to the side. But IT is about to come roaring back to being relevant again.

Specifically, IT will start to reinvent itself in 2016 and become the department of “yes.”

In fact, the CIO role will be redefined dramatically. CIO historically means Chief Information Officer. In 2016, that will shift to Chief Innovation Officer. A new role is emerging called Chief Data Officer. CIO and CDO responsibilities will merge together as part of IT resurgence.

IT departments of the future will be smaller and more efficient. They will focus more on value-added services and let the cloud manage the undifferentiated heavy lifting. No longer is managing an on-premises Microsoft Exchange server a value add; the cloud can deliver commodity-priced email cheaper than self-managed. This means fewer people are needed and their skills must evolve to focus more on business needs and less on mundane technical tasks.

It’s the end of “average IT.”

IT in 2016 will provide overall technical oversight in the form of information security, compliance and governance for SaaS applications and will be the guardrails that prohibit a business manager from making poor technology choices. IT will ensure SaaS vendors are using state of the art and trusted security controls. IT will enforce new standards, such as multifactor authentication, and will vet vendors for best practices.

Finally, IT will provide value-added services by analyzing the reams of business data contained in the dozens of SaaS apps used by a modern enterprise.

2. Cloud gets cheaper
The cloud will continue to be easier to use and less expensive. We won’t see the dramatic price cuts of the past few years, but with healthy competition and exponential innovation, the major cloud vendors will keep each other in check and continue to drive pricing lower because they are figuring out new ways to manage their infrastructure at lower cost.

Amazon’s new Elasticsearch as a service is a great example of “getting less expensive.” Prior to this new capability, if you wanted to run Elasticsearch on AWS, you had to self-manage compute (EC2) storage (EBS) and configure various networking settings (VPC & IAM) for reliable operation. Not a trivial matter. Now, with the new Elasticsearch service, the same capability is available in a turnkey, pay-as-you-go offering that requires no Elasticsearch configuration expertise. And it’s less expensive overall when you factor in headcount.

In 2016, we’ll see three major cloud providers and a handful of niche players. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Platform will be the dominant public cloud providers, each offering an array of similar capabilities and similar price points. Each will succeed based on different factors.

AWS will remain the largest and most advanced. Their five-year head start gives them an innovation cadence akin to compounding interest on an investment account. It’s really hard for anyone else to catch up and AWS’ new services are so attractive that they virtually guarantee a certain degree of lock-in. Every major new startup (except Snapchat) is running on AWS. Amazon is also figuring out the enterprise, after winning the hearts and minds of startup founders.

Microsoft continues to be a major player, thanks to dominance in the enterprise and the comfort IT decision makers have with .NET, SQL Server and Office platforms. Azure will continue to offer more IaaS and PaaS services and price match or be lower than AWS or GCP.

Google needs to figure out the enterprise and will leverage the growing Google for Work platform to make inroads. Some startups that are machine learning or AI-focused will choose GCP over AWS as the primary platform.

The cloud market is looking like the other major markets in our economy. Whether automobile, media, airlines or banking, there always seems to be the “Big 3” major providers and up to a dozen smaller players satisfying niche needs. In 2016, that’s also how the cloud market will look.

3. Cloud gets simpler
Another trend to expect in 2016 is that the cloud will get easier to use. The major cloud providers are investing heavily in making the cloud more approachable for enterprise IT. All the raw horsepower at our disposal will be packaged into quick start templates that ensure an easy, secure and reliable deployment. Every on-premises service will have a cloud alternative, no matter how niche.

Cloud ISVs (Sonian is an example) will have access to more capabilities that allow relatively small teams to solve bigger problems. One example of this is “serverless” architectures. New services like AWS Lambda and Microsoft Orleans completely abstract away the notion of managing anything resembling a traditional virtual machine “server” from running your code.

Lambda is farther ahead in this area and is already spawning new projects that do not require teams to manage any dedicated infrastructure (virtual or physical). Write your code, upload to the cloud and execute on event triggers. No EC2, EBS, etc. to worry about.

Services like Lambda are leaps beyond the trend toward using Docker to containerize applications. But while Docker promotes portability across clouds (a positive) it adds more administration overhead and complexity. Services like Lambda are easier, but lock-in is the price you pay for this simplicity. But don’t fret about lock-in too much: this is another startup opportunity waiting to be solved and someone will do it.

4. Businesses will be challenged managing the data deluge
In 2016, businesses need to implement better methods to manage all the data a modern enterprise generates. Now more than ever, the need for central reporting is critical to support compliance / auditing / governance as well as analytics / intelligence / insights. The more than 1,400 enterprise SaaS options available have robust APIs to allow access to this important data, but enterprises don’t have the best tools to help them make the best use of it. This area is ripe for innovation.

Enterprises will need to find reliable, cost-effective systems to store, index and analyze billions of data assets, while also segmenting machine-generated information from human-generated content. The goal is for a manager to use this data to create knowledge about the business and make better decisions.

With the right systems in place, you can answer these types of questions:
• Which customers are more profitable?
• Which products have the least support burden?
• Which employees meet their goals consistently?

The cloud, machine learning and open source will all play pivotal roles in better enterprise reporting.

5. Millennials enter the workforce
Enterprises need to prepare for a new type of employee as millennials enter the workforce: more technically savvy than they are used to and less open to change. After college commencements this spring, a wave of millennials is going to flood the workforce. This is the first generation that grew up with the Internet, smartphones and ubiquitous instant access to information.

Millennials don’t use the phone or email on a regular basis. But they are used to communicating asynchronously with short messages and on public forums, such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. To them, email is stale and old fashioned – and it doesn’t provide the immediate gratification of a Snapchat experience.

Businesses and millennials will be challenged to find the right balance, and the IT department will be ground central for this trend. IT needs to prepare to train millennials on the installed technology, which will feel backwards to how millennials are accustomed to functioning. And IT should also be prepared to embrace new ideas about enterprise social networking, ESN.

ESN hasn’t taken off like many predicted a few years ago. That is about to change as Facebook prepares to launch FB@Work. The same comfortable user experience billions of people are used to will now be packaged for businesses to create their own private experience for sharing and collaboration.

It’s no coincidence that FB@Work is launching in the spring of 2016!

What other tech trends are on your radar for 2016? Let us know in the comments!


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

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