Technology moves at an astonishing rate. We need only look back 10 years to recognise the impact of technological advances on the way that businesses operate. 2007 saw the first release of the iPhone by Apple and the unveiling of Android by Google. In this same year, only 15 million households had internet access and 25 per cent of those were still using dial up.
In 2007, Amazon offered a service named Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) as a means to rent remote computing power and IBM announced plans to “Push Cloud Computing“ in the New York Times, but until recently most people did not recognise “Cloud Computing” as a phrase or description of any value or significance.
Although the origin and the precise meaning of the term remains a subject of debate, June 2012 is the first time the phrase was included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Even five years ago, most customers were not receptive to storing business data on the internet.
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Today, ‘Cloud Computing’ appears 48 million times on the internet and leading industry analysts are predicting Cloud spend will increase by 4.5 times the current rate of spend! With such significant change within such a short space of time, how will business systems change over the next 10 years?
Here, Andrew Peddie, the MD of FHL – which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year – gives his predictions about what business systems will look like in 2027.
All businesses will move towards the cloud, no exceptions!
In 2007, few businesses were willing to adopt the internet as a secure repository for their data. Those that did were either seen as cutting-edge or crazy, the trust simply wasn’t there. For many, “Cloud Computing” meant nothing and although it is now an accepted term, it is viewed by many in the industry as a buzzword for marketing purposes and an oversimplification of a complex offering.
In spite of this, there is no doubt that having applications available via the internet from any device and being able to access securely stored data at any time is an incredibly powerful proposition.
Cloud Computing has arrived, is here to stay and is no longer new nor the domain of the elite. It is becoming better, faster and more affordable by the minute and is increasingly the solution of choice to facilitate growth and change for businesses.
So why is Cloud the future? There are three crucial reasons – security, affordability and agility to adapt.
‘Best of breed’ Cloud systems are overseen by the world’s foremost security experts; the collective purchasing power of the midmarket client base makes this practical and affordable.
A true cloud platform has the flexibility to scale and accommodate change and ensures that organisations are always up-to-date and operate on the latest version of the application.
It seems logical to forecast that by 2027, every organisation will be Cloud-based, no exceptions!
Convergence – Cloud app functionality will converge into single source platforms
More and more consumers are willing to transact via apps. Organisations utilise in-house apps to manage business processes such as sales, ordering, fulfilment, expenses and payments. Apps market places have never been so busy.
Increasingly, consumers and companies prefer to work with a single provider. Take television as an example. People have options for their viewing such as Sky, Virgin Media, Amazon, Netflix. Much of the content is shared under license and often, telephony and broadband are part of a holistic offering.
If you extend this thinking to cloud-based business application platforms, by 2027 expect to see a small number of providers (perhaps three or four) offering similar solutions which benefit from converged functionality of third party apps. More than likely, companies offering extended functionality will be acquired for the larger players to merge the features into their own eco-systems.
Unified communications will be standard on all platforms
By 2027, businesses will no longer need to run separate communications solutions as their technology platforms will deliver unified communications. Communication features such as voice, video, chat, file sharing and email in a “one-to-one” or “one-to-many” format will be available to any device via the organisation’s chosen business platform technology solution.
Advanced automation of business processes
Today, many businesses could not survive if they had to rely solely on manual processes. High volume, low value transactions, currency fluctuations, electronic invoicing, automatic payments and collections are an essential part of competing in a rapidly evolving and increasingly demanding market. Within the next 10 years, manual business processes will be a thing of the past for most businesses and ‘accounts payable/receivable’ departments will most likely be extinct.
Instant real-time transactions can be processed automatically, period-end billing, complex consolidations, currency fluctuations, intercompany transfers and even solvency computations are already a familiar feature for some organisations.
Artificial intelligence applied to basic business rules will feature strongly in advanced decision-making techniques ensuring automated optimal performance in all but the most complex scenarios.
No Code / Low Code and Gamification
Although gaming might conjure up images of teenagers spending hours on X-Box and PlayStation, modern computer games are a great exponent of advancement in programming and hardware capability. The military has played out “war games” or simulation of projected scenarios to help better predict and plan for potential events and as a training aid, it is invaluable. So why not business?
Consider the pre-sales process. Most consumers like to conduct their own research these days and don’t like to have a sales person calling them. Imagine an online scenario-based environment that could simulate a business’ requirements, evaluate a technical and/or commercial fit and generate custom output to suit its needs without the need to engage in time consuming emails or telephone calls. What better way to research a product or service?
It is accepted that the modern computer game has millions of lines of code written by genius developers who sit in darkened rooms looking at over-sized screens for a number of years just to create a seamless and lifelike experience for the gamer. When you buy a PlayStation game, you don’t expect to have to learn to write code to be able to play it.
Similarly, the cloud-based business platform will emerge equipped with low code or zero code “toolsets” that allow the user to configure and customise features and functionality in a visual environment and with the use of code. This work will be simple enough to be managed in-house making it fast and cost effective to deliver and will be “future-proofed”.
A final word
Ten years is a long time in technology. In the world of business systems alone, there have been dramatic changes in the last decade.
In 2007, the outlook for business adoption of software as a service – SAAS – was positive but not prolific. It is somewhat different today with leading analysts predicting universal adoption and forecasting cloud as the default solution of choice for more than 80% of businesses. Cloud is now considered mainstream technology more than disruptive and it has gained the respect and confidence of the mid-market.
Technological convergence, advanced business process automation and low/zero code environments will create such lean, efficient and agile organisations that the best exponent of technology will dominate.
The last 10 years has been an interesting period of preparation in cloud-based business systems, almost like a warm up to the main event.
By 2027, we can expect to see the smartest of companies equip themselves with the very best cloud technology tools and benefit from versatility and agility in meeting the ever-changing needs of their market place.