At Rocket Software, one of our core principles is always “Putting Customer and Partners First.” This is more than just a slogan: we convene an annual event called the Rocket President’s Advisory Council (RPAC) where our leadership team meets with customers and partners from all over the world to hear about issues that keep them up at night when making decisions that affect their businesses every day.
Our recent session in Boston focused on emerging technology trends and their potential challenges and benefits. These are trends that may not be significantly affecting most companies today, but are expected to over the next 5-10 years. Six key areas emerged as the areas of greatest concern – and opportunity – for the next few years.
Everyone understands that AI will have a dramatic impact on business – not just companies in tech, but ones in every vertical. Many participants expressed apprehension about how machine learning, neural nets, and other forms of the technology might deliver in the real world. While current examples of AI range from simple image and speech recognition to trading bots and recommendation engines, the field is still evolving. That said, everyone agreed that AI and machine learning warrant diligent monitoring, and many RPAC members are looking at how best to deploy an initial AI instance that will deliver value.
Internet of Things
In the years ahead, more and more objects will have IP addresses and collect and transmit data that will then be available to business. (Fortunately, the mainframe is perfectly suited to handle this data onslaught!) OpEx implications are dramatic for companies willing to collect, rationalize and exploit this data. IoT will also enable the building of smart products that deliver value in new ways to customers.
Robotic process automation (RPA) generated a lively discussion among attendees. Certainly, RPA helps businesses automate mundane rules-based processes, letting users to devote more time to serving customers or other higher-value work. While financial services firms were early adopters, the general consensus was that there is tremendous potential for RPA to expedite processes in healthcare, retail and human resources in the future.
Distributed, transparent ledgers are disrupting – or even reinventing – how multiple parties execute transactions in various scenarios, from simple money transfers to complex real estate deals. The good news is that organizations can take advantage of the speed, cryptography and reliability of mainframes for hosting blockchain while seamlessly integrating with transactional data and applications already in place.
Artificial reality/augmented reality
Augmented, virtual and mixed reality solutions, once the domain of gamers and entertainment, are increasingly appearing in business contexts. AR is being used to facilitate equipment maintenance as well as for showcasing products in the retail sector. Other emerging use cases include virtual training and conducting immersive meetings with geographically distributed teams.
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)
Organizations are looking beyond cloud for the next technology trend to boost their business efficiency and agility. Due to the all-in-one configuration model of HCI, customers are able to build, scale and protect IT infrastructure more affordably and effectively than was previously possible. In the future, hyper-converged platforms will allow organizations to create and run applications without adversely impacting core infrastructure and platform services.
We all came away from this year’s RPAC feeling energized about the potential these emerging technology trends have to help companies drive innovation. The team and I are always delighted to spend time with customers and partners hearing about topics of interest to them. And again, it gave us a chance to demonstrate that customer needs always come first.