As we prepare for a brand-new year ahead, “Re-Vision 2020” would make a fitting label for most of the trends we expect to unbox in the next 12 months.
From teaching new tricks to old platforms (and executives), all the way to redefining how organisations tackle big-ticket issues ranging from cybersecurity to 5G, it looks like 2020 will see business and IT leaders taking stock of how far they’ve come; and reassessing what best practices ought to entail as they gear up for the brave new world ahead. Our biggest question: when will “digital transformation” finally transform into useful approaches IT pros can use to accelerate business growth? Or, as with most technology, is this something we’ll only know in hindsight?
Prediction 1: The Server Room (Finally) Joins the Boardroom
It’s been a long time coming but expect 2020 to be the inflection point for improved collaboration between IT and line-of-business leaders. Throughout 2019, we urged closer coordination between the boardroom and server room, and we’re seeing progress.
2020 could be the year when traditional misunderstandings dissipate, and greater dialogue ensues, focused on the needs of business, not just the needs of IT. Look forward to more flexible and adaptable IT budgeting—based on strategy, less on quarterly intervals—with C-suite members also seeking mentorship from trusted tech pros. About time, too: integrating digital skillsets into top-tier decision making will make or break the results for almost every organisation in the coming years.
Prediction 2: 5G Doesn’t Solve Everyone’s Problems
2020’s nice round digits have for some time been hyped as the “year of 5G.” Most pundits seem eager to breathlessly assure 5G will bring a massive revolution in speed, accessibility, and just about everything short of world peace. But based on what we’ve seen in 2018 and 2019, 5G’s reality is coming into a less-than-picture-perfect focus.
As infrastructure comes online, early trials have struggled with everything from unpredictable performance to significantly more limited coverage than predicted. On its current trajectory, 5G will likely create a whole host of new issues for IT pros, including new monitoring difficulties and challenges in optimising or even application design. In the ops centre, look out for greater pressure to monitor yet another new network variant’s performance, and efforts to achieve 5G’s promoted latency improvements. Teething problems with consistency of bandwidth will also become a more frequent topic.
Prediction 3: Greater Visibility in the Hybrid Cloud
With hybrid environments becoming the new normal in 2019, many organizations are scrambling in earnest to restore parity visibility between their different infrastructures. 2020 could see additional consolidation of niche and “best-of-breed” tools from different vendors as best practices and standards are adopted en masse. As is always the case with commoditization and experience with new technology, IT pros will seek out more integrated solutions to break down silos and centralise management.
Ideally, that’ll also lead to deeper understanding of performance metrics spanning all business units. This is an established pattern seen with virtualization. Common tools give IT and business leaders valuable insight into how different teams can better work together based on their shared—and accepted—unique operations data. Most IT teams can expect some degree of chafing in 2020 as they work out how best to engage their peers from other departments without devolving into a game of Battle Royale.
Prediction 4: Better IT Hygiene
One 2019 survey found 51% of organisations saw a lack of clear security protocols leading to avoidable security breaches. The 2019 SolarWinds IT Trends Report found 54% of respondents consider SIEM and threat intelligence—both relatively traditional disciplines—as one of the top two skills for their career development.
Expect more executive interest and investment in consistent updates and patches, security automation, and hygiene measures like zero-trust policies making the rounds in 2020. High-performing organizations will couple back-end governance with new and more engaging approaches to whole-of-organization cyber-training. We’re also expecting a big rise in businesses enlisting the help of Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). As threats increase and security skill demand increases, the commandos of the MSP world will take on increased responsibility for minimising and protecting the threat surface.
Prediction 5: The APM Strikes Back
In perhaps the most retro of our predictions, we’re eagerly anticipating the revival of application performance management (APM) in 2020. It’s been around for more than 30 years—enough to land it squarely in established boomer territory—yet APM is increasingly relevant and IT pros are giving it another look. We expect APM’s focus on end-user experience over infrastructure status to become a critical tool in how IT manages its service delivery efforts.
It’ll play a particularly important role in better managing multi-cloud environments and ensuring consistent application delivery despite near-term turmoil of cloud transition projects. Look out for more visually intuitive and dynamic application performance solutions as well, with user-friendliness appealing to multiple teams.
C-suite members will also find APM delivers corelated business and ops metrics and are handy as they tool up with their cloud and SaaS tech knowledge. We’re also predicting more strategic front-end uses of APM, with various business functions using it to observe and address the “why” of end-user behaviours directly through application usage.
2020 has historically been used as the terminus for a litany of long-delayed technological innovation, still with no flying cars. But as IT pros digest this new epoch of vendor tech, 2020 may well be a year when everything old is new again, and we learn to apply hard-won lessons from the past to challenges that seemed impossible a couple of years ago.
From what we’re seeing, IT pros will likely spend much of the next 12 months establishing strong foundations for years to come, from investing in stronger collaboration to replacing less productive habits with more effective solutions and mindsets.
The confidence to disassemble and reengineer IT is the key enabler to IT doing what it does best: making everything work together. And in 2020, we’ll see more teams moving past hype and making expert technology and process decisions. Revisiting operations with fresh eyes could be just the thing to recover from 2019’s exhausting digital hype and trendy tech promises.