*An article written by Alex Sima, Client Partner at Accesa

Synopsis

2020 is a year of unprecedented challenges, and there's no straightforward way to address all IT operations and business development aspects entirely effectively.  But analyzing the overall impact brings the right level of comfort and clarity to decision-makers. Packing the trends in various sectors and markets, there are apparently market winners while there are also "non-invest" directions of general financing.

An unexpected player in the market: Leveraging IoT to display and convey on fever detection

Several providers have implemented thermal scanners in their offices that check in real time people's temperatures and send an alert if someone reads a little hot. This has an impact toward on-demand capacity and people/resources management.

While it's early to know whether shifts in usage and IT tactics will remain permanent, some corners of the computing business have seen a boost. 

A summary of market trends:

Winner: Video conferencing — and its ecosystem

The big winner is easy to spot: Demand for video conferencing tools has skyrocketed meetings. Zoom, for instance, has an app marketplace with specialized extensions for industries such as finance, education, customer services, and more than a dozen other kinds. There are similar software projects built around Microsoft Teams and Google Meet as well.

Runner-up: Office management tools

Dozens of software and hardware packages intended to simplify the day in physical offices are taking a hit.

Winner: Cocooning software

Some platforms like Disney Plus or Hulu are perfect for entertaining everyone who is stuck at home each evening. Others, like newspapers and books, are perfect for readers. If you're in a niche where reaching your customers at home with new apps or services is a business-worthy endeavor, it's high time to explore.

Runner-up: Software for gathering and traveling

Specialized software offerings that support physical gatherings are suffering. Companies who build software for show lighting or sound systems, for instance, aren't going to be selling many new packages until theaters work themselves out of debt. 

Winner: Cloud

The way the cloud grew to absorb the demand from video conferencing and collaboration software is actual evidence to the vision that built this elastic pool of computational resources. While some cloud companies have warned that some situations may not be immediately available, and some spot prices have been a bit higher, for the most significant part, spot prices have stayed much lower than on-demand costs.

Runner-up: On-prem

Some reasons to keep devices on-premises still make sense. The bill for constant computing is often much lower, and something ensures the idea of being able to walk down the hall to the server room. But when your workers are off-campus, there's less of a contrast between the cloud's data center across the country and your company's server room. The most beneficial you can do is "ping" both machines.

Winner: Agile Methodology and enabling tools

Did your organization have a conference room with walls covered with Gantt charts for a waterfall model for development so you can hit a delivery date in 24 months? Have you blocked out said battle room for weekly or even daily progress meetings? Surprise. That was yesterday's plan. Today, we're shifting to operating at home. You may still need to produce huge charts and aim for delivery dates for two or three years in the future, but you'll need to think quickly and adjust in minutes. Complex models set in concrete won't work these days.

Runner-up: Modeling and past data

Two of the most significant buzzwords in the tech hype machine have been "artificial intelligence" and "machine learning" — automated tools for turning data about the past into models to predict the future. Thanks to the lockdown, the radical shifts in habits and activities, not to mention the ensuing economic fallout, everyone putting these technologies to work is faced with a data modeling challenge, as so much has changed. All of the big data lakes and warehouses are filled with numbers based on how the world operated before the pandemic hit, but this data can't help us figure out what's coming next. 

On IT Operations

Bring automation into IT operations

Most C level transformation officers have been driving automation throughout the business side of their businesses to speed up operations, free staff from repetitive tasks, and minimize errors. Automation in IT can bring those benefits as well as fewer outages, leading to more efficient services overall. Robotic process automation (RPA) technologies, decision engines, and artificial intelligence all have their say in reducing costs.

Continue with the cloud journey

During these years of transformations and migrations, the most successful CTOs adjusted their departments to support the new model. They added new skills to their IT staff's skillset and de-emphasized other skills as on-premises work demands decreased.

Yet like the move to cloud itself, modernizing the IT team is an ongoing process, and IT executives and management advisers alike say CTOs still have more work to do to prepare their departments to work effectively and efficiently in the cloud. IT departments must build the skills needed to understand how cloud changes costs, security, performance, integration with other systems, governance policies, and user access; and then organize workers so they can best manage those pieces.

Another take on AI and Machine learning

Many managers are enthusiastic about AI's potential to transform organizations by making them more innovative and productive profoundly. But implementing AI will also lead to meaningful changes in how organizations are being managed. Generally, executives expect that reaping the benefits of AI will require changes in workplace structures, technology strategies, and technology governance. 

AI demands more collaboration among people skilled in data management, data analytics, IT infrastructure, and systems development, as well as business and operational specialists. This means that organizational leaders need to ensure that conventional silos don't hinder advanced analytics endeavors and must support the training required to build skills across their workforces.

AI will require an increased focus on risk management and ethics. Still, few practitioners have taken action to create strategies and processes to manage risks, including ethical, legal, reputational, and financial risks. Managing moral risk is a particular area of opportunity. Those with more advanced AI practices are establishing processes and policies for data governance and risk management, including providing ways to explain how their algorithms deliver results.

AI applied to business systems

The applied-analytics form of AI seen in enterprise systems that deal with lots of data, changing or uncertain environments, and the need to adapt processes quickly.

Classic use cases include logistics, such as package delivery, vehicle routing, and just-in-time inventory management, and situational estimation, like credit scoring and product recommendations. Newer areas include reputation management, résumé scoring, and risk management across several regions. 

An unacknowledged area for AI is automated document processing. Although contracts, policies, medical reports may seem highly verbose, such documents remain challenging to extract information from. 

On inside IT Processes (aside from market players)

Creating and nurturing efficient business processes requires skillful planning and design, but also maintaining technologies to keep work moving across the whole process. In the future posts, we'll show you how five different organizations transformed previously disparate tasks and workflows into a seamless process with all the benefits—at a fraction of the cost or time commitment—of customizing legacy business applications.

Digital transformation has set the Executive Board's attention on external customers, but "there's a part of the IT company whose customer is the employee." IT departments should "apply the same energy, care, professionalism and techniques that we apply to systems we build for our customers to the systems for our employees." 

• Commit to taking action - the employee experience won't turn around if you don't commit to improving it. Transformation-oriented C levels aspire to be influential across the organization and must address the employee experience to be successful.

• Engage frequently and measure improvement - For our organization’s board, fixing process puzzles is an embedded part of regular AMA sessions. The key questions are: "What distinct things are we going to do in terms of people and process to make this a better place to work? Who owns it, and how are we going to measure that this thing gets done? And then how do we measure whether or not it worked?"

• Lead in technology use - Our executive functions have a responsibility to influence not only the future direction of the organization's external products and services but also the internal processes and culture of the entire organization—because they're all affected by technology.

Executive summary

2020 is a year of unprecedented challenges, and there's no straightforward way to address all IT operations and business development aspects entirely effectively. At Accesa we monitor the trends, and, like any technology company, we look into better ways to respond to actual business needs by leveraging the above-mentioned "winners and runners-up" in terms of demand.

Other insights

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