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A Cloud Guy’s Guide to Game-Changing Tech Trends

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Cars driving humans. Replicators creating prosthetic limbs.  

It’s not science fiction. If anything, it’s science premonition. Real-life technology is rivalling and even surpassing things that blew us away in the movies. And as we race into the second half of 2016, technology advances that are setting the stage for all this and more are hitting their stride.

With cloud as the new normal, seemingly everything going digital and tons of data flying all around, organisations are running hard, trying to both stay on top of the latest innovations and harness them for business gain. To remain agile and competitive, and relevant to customers, partners and employees, smart companies are looking at new ways to leverage data, connect and automate, and double-down on security.

Here are the tech trends I see as the game changers you should take account of:


Physical Transforms to Digital  

The way we interact with everything is changing fast. Digital interactions in our work, home and social lives are influencing more and more of our behavioural patterns.
According to IDC, Digital Transformation (DX) will drive everything that matters in IT for years to come and the DX economy will create competitive advantages through new offerings, new business models and new customer, supplier and distributor relationships. This will be achieved through technologies including mobility, cloud, IoT and big data. In fact, IDC says by 2017, over 50% of IT spending will be on new technologies like these.

This transformation creates a need for companies to acquire and manage both their physical hardware and software along with cloud products and services in one place. The Westcon-Comstor BlueSky Cloud and Service Management platform makes it easy for resellers to stay at the centre of their cloud business and focus instead on helping their customers address other challenges.

For instance, Organisational Change Management creates the opportunity for workers to take charge of their own tech needs, and IT budgets become increasingly controlled by Line of Business managers. Instead of focusing on one-time purchases, budgets are shifting to pay-as-you-go digital services. With BlueSky, resellers can spend more time building these new relationships, instead of getting bogged down in the inertia of cloud usage and billing administration.


Hybrid Cloud is the Way to Go

Hybrid cloud is becoming mainstream, as a means to digital transformation. IDC predicts that by the end of 2016, 65% of Asia Pacific enterprises will commit to hybrid cloud architectures and that, come 2018, 25% of global enterprises will use Asia Pacific cloud service providers to make this cloud world a reality.

With hybrid cloud, organisations can take advantage of newer public and hosted cloud-based services, while keeping sensitive data and legacy applications that aren’t cloud-ready on private clouds. They can also leverage Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

With so many options and decisions to make, organisations are turning to educated and trustworthy “guides” to assist them in making the right choices. Westcon-Comstor Services helps resellers strengthen or augment their cloud professional and support services capabilities and helps them build the capability to leverage cloud to deliver existing services, integrate legacy IT environments and manage the hybrid environment for their customers.


Internet of Things Forges New Connections and Headaches 

Every day, 5.5 million new things get connected, and by 2020, Gartner predicts 20.8 billion connected devices will be in use around the world. As our hyper-connected world expands, it’s getting easier for these connected devices to interact with cloud-based applications and other devices. Gartner calls 2016 ‘The Year of the IoT Developer,’ and with the likes of Westcon-Comstor partner Amazon Web Services releasing their IoT Toolkit to promote rapid development of IoT applications, you can see why Gartner’s estimating 250,000 unique IoT applications will be available by 2020.  

And let us not forget that with the new world of ubiquitous connectivity comes more security and privacy challenges. This, combined with the “bleeding” of an individual’s corporate and consumer digital Identities, will create headaches for every chief security officer. As the #1 global Security distributor, the Westcon-Comstor Security team, along with leading security vendors, helps resellers alleviate these headaches or even stop them before they start.


New Ways to Make Sense of Big Data

The IoT is one of many drivers that will be dumping data into our increasingly connected, on-demand world. By 2020, 35 zetabytes of data will be created and one third of that will be stored in or passed through the cloud.

Additional capacity and new technologies will be needed to help businesses deal with this rising data tide, and to provide the flexibility to handle unexpected data surges and tsunamis. But, as we all know, data is meaningless on its own, which is why this year, and coming years, will see so much emphasis on advanced analytics. Look for the newly created role of chief data officers to be sorting this all out.

Machine learning — comprising algorithms that enable computers to learn from experiences over time — is also stepping up, helping turn data into meaning by analysing massive data sets, finding patterns and using self-learning to uncover new truths and inform new strategies. With major cloud service providers offering machine learning APIs and open source machine learning tools, it will get even easier for developers to build applications, like fraud detection, facial recognition, medical diagnoses, that discover these so-critical patterns.


Intelligent Automation Partners with Humans

Machine learning isn’t stopping with data analysis. It’s also helping enable next-gen automation, where systems learn how to take actions that, for instance, reduce transaction costs and time, and optimise the customer experience. In reality, automation is becoming the cost-of-entry for businesses to compete in the hyper-connected world. It cuts out manual processes, enhances decision making and enables the speed and intelligence consumers expect. 

Accenture points out that intelligent automation is the essential new co-worker for the digital age, and it is far from cutting staff and jobs. It will gather unprecedented amounts of data from disparate systems and — by weaving systems, data and people together — create solutions that fundamentally change how organisations act and what they deliver.

The BlueSky Cloud and Services Management platform enables organisations to automate cloud business processes by effectively “outsource” them. This not only saves time and money, but can also eliminate manual errors.

By automating more processes that free up humans for the kind of work that only humans can do, we are moving into an era of efficiency where machine learning works in tandem with human intelligence, and innovation is accelerated.


Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Finally Arrive

An emerging type of machine learning that uses ‘deep learning’ techniques —including voice identification, emotion detection and natural language processing — is getting us even closer to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality(VR) and the like.  

Deloitte predicts 80 of the 100 largest enterprise software companies in the world will have integrated cognitive technology into their products. Advances in technology will see VR emerge as mainstream, especially in the real estate, tourism, design, gaming and education arenas.

As you see, cloud is a part of everything and paired with these game changers, it’s setting the winners apart from the losers when it comes to growing and maintaining a successful cloud business. Remember change is good, if you’re willing to go with it.  

Article by Darryl Grauman, VP Services & Cloud, APAC at Westcon