5 Trends That Will Shape Business and IT in 2016

If one thing is clear about today’s business and IT environment, it’s that digital technologies are advancing at breakneck speed. The result? As business and IT leaders have come to recognize, the line between opportunity and challenge is blurrier than ever.

Organizations that tap into emerging trends are in a position to achieve greater success than their slower moving counterparts. Here are five factors that promise to define and redefine the enterprise over the course of 2016.

The Internet of things goes mainstream.

The hype cycle for the Internet of things (IoT) has reached a fevered state. However, that doesn’t negate the growing importance of connected systems and devices.

“2016 will be the year when IoT moves from proof of concepts and pilots to large-scale commercial deployments,” states Satya Ramaswamy, global head of digital enterprise at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). In fact, TCS reports that IoT initiatives will increase revenue by an average of 16 percent. “In today’s highly competitive market, where revenue increase is the most prized valuation lever, we can expect significant adoption of IoT technologies simply because they can help companies increase their value in a big way,” he explains.

A major benefit of a well-conceived IoT initiative is an ability to reimagine and remap business models. This can lead to greater data transparency, new and smarter products and services, advanced predictive capabilities, micro-segmentation, smoother channel integration and better self-service capabilities, as well as the elimination of tedious and often redundant manual processes.

However, an IoT initiative requires more than technology. It’s critical for IT and business teams to collaborate and communicate effectively.

“The IoT necessitates the integration of IT and OT [operational technology],” Ramaswamy says. It also requires organizations to bake in security from the beginning. “The consequences of compromised security could be catastrophic as organizations move from screen-based digital interfaces to actual physical interfaces,” he adds.

The API economy becomes critical.

The growing use of application programming interfaces to extend the reach of enterprise software and data is transforming business. The reason? APIs represent a highly efficient and streamlined way to tie together disparate digital systems, software, data and other assets—including through clouds and to mobile devices.

Deloitte University Press reports that public APIs have doubled in the past 18 months, and more than 10,000 have been published to date. Anup Purohit, CIO at YES Bank in Mumbai, India, says that API ecosystems will have a “profound impact.” Public APIs and B2B collaboration introduce real-time transactions and a lower cost per transaction. They generate “increased ROI while operating on a secure data exchange,” he says.

The result is a level of disruption that would have once been unimaginable. Netflix, for example, now receives upward of 5 billion daily requests for its public APIs. Deloitte also points out that many businesses and government agencies are turning to them to create a framework for digital interactions. Of course, as the Internet of things takes shape, the need for robust API libraries will continue to grow.

Deloitte consultants George Collins and David Sisk recommend that organizations focus on a few key areas: creating, governing and deploying APIs through versioning and discoverability methods; introducing adequate access controls and security policy enforcement; and overseeing sales, pricing, metering and billing.

Purohit, who relies on IBM to power its API initiative, argues that “Business executives should focus on creating global standards for the usage of the API economy—an example equivalent of the IEEE.”

Mobile-first becomes the norm.

In recent years, mobility has evolved from a useful technology into the foundation of the digital enterprise. In fact, according to data from Cisco Systems, global mobile data traffic grew 69 percent in 2014, and it now accounts for more than half the activity on the Internet.

The upshot? A mobile-first strategy is no longer an option: It’s critical. Many observers are even going further and saying that mobility should be the starting point for all usability and design, and all other systems should revolve around it.

Business and IT executives that don’t fully understand this concept put their organization at risk, warns Tony Fross, vice president of digital advisory services at Capgemini.

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