This article is part of our series about 2019 trends, predictions, and new opportunities. Click here for more.
IT departments will continue to invest heavily in cloud-based services, APIs, and machine learning over the next 12 months, according to APAC executives.
All IT decision-makers start the new year with a wish-list of products and services they believe will improve their operations and bottom lines. Over recent years, this has included everything from ramped-up mobile services, big data and analytics, and cloud services to greater security and simple upgrades to legacy infrastructure.
These wish-lists have also featured heightened interest and initial investments in futuristic technology that is already having a big impact on businesses everywhere, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, advanced application programming interfaces (API), and artificial intelligence (AI).
Pace Of Change Set To Ramp Up
IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation study found that the pace at which technologies are launched is far greater than at any previous time, and C-suite executives need to be on top of both the technical side of digital transformation as well as innovation that gives them a much-needed competitive edge.
The study found that the top five technologies already implemented across enterprises globally were big data/analytics (58%), mobile technologies (59%), private cloud (53%), public cloud (45%), and APIs and embeddable technologies (40%), while AI (39%), machine learning (34%), and the IoT (31%) are the top three technologies being eyed with a view to future deployment.
Heads Firmly In The Cloud
Big data/analytics, mobile technologies, and private cloud were the largest contributors to business revenue growth in 2018, IDG’s report found, something that is reflected to some extent in the wish lists of APAC executives.
Peter Buzek, the newly appointed chief technology officer of Gateway Bank, says 2018 was a transformative year technologically. “We made big improvements to our banking platform and across all of our digital channels,” he said. “At the same time, we witnessed how open innovation and co-creation were the best ways for an organisation of our size to innovate, and over the past year we met with a number of potential partners.”
Philip Sim, CEO of media database company Media Connect, said the company doubled its revenue and headcount in 2018, and overall IT spending rose significantly across the business.
API and cloud solutions were stand-out investments, according to Sim. “We seem to be tapping into a new cloud-based API service every month, which has really allowed our development team to focus on core functionality and features we consider as unique intellectual property,” he said.
“We've been all-cloud since day dot but, for the first time in almost two decades of operation, we were finally forced to buy our first servers for a project that just wasn't suited to the cloud, and that's been a learning experience for us,” Sim explained. “Let's just say I'm not regretting being an early adopter of everything cloud.”
Machine Learning, API Solutions All The Rage For 2019
Geoff Wenborn, the chief digital and technology officer at People’s Choice, one of Australia’s largest credit unions, says his organisation is embarking on a total digital transformation that encompasses everything from core digital banking channels to cloud products, CRM technology, machine learning, and API solutions.
“In our industry, we need to leverage all available technologies to ensure that our digital ecosystem and infrastructure is robust and competitive. This includes API and AI components within our automation strategy. It also means arriving at a decision regarding the best model for real-time analytics where we coordinate data from various sources,” he says.
Buzek says one of his first projects in the new year will be to investigate the development of a full set of APIs that will “allow for more exciting partnerships and innovation through faster, easier, and safer access to our environment.”
Sim is also upbeat about the transformative potential of APIs. “It's amazing how much incredible technology you can easily tap into via API services. Some of our best IT-related projects have not come from us actively searching out a solution to a problem, but instead finding a solution and then seeing how it can solve problems we'd written off as too hard or complex to solve,” he says.
“We want to particularly leverage AI and machine learning APIs. It's mind-blowing to think you can access some of the most sophisticated, powerful technology via simple API subscriptions. As a business, you'd be crazy not to leverage that to the hilt. We very much believe in integrated human/machine workflows, and we are automating as many manual processes as possible to allow us to achieve even more this year.”
Gateway also plans to ramp up its investment in machine learning, Buzak says. “The most important technologies from a banking perspective are those that successfully combine human and digital experiences, that provide automation where the customer wants it without losing the human touch.”
Media Connect is looking to increase its own investment in machine learning. “As you build capability in that area, it opens up so much scope to improve your products and services, as well as your internal processes,” Sim says. “Most of our growth over the last two years has been via our white-label offerings, whereas in 2019 we really want to build up our own brands, so we expect to invest a lot more in sales and marketing automation and optimisation.”
Wenborn is looking forward to finally moving his organisation’s remaining legacy systems to a hybrid public/private cloud-based model that will also include some fit-for-purpose, on-premise technology.
“Key to our ongoing digital build-out will be robust guidelines for decision-making,” he adds. “You need to maximise your team’s capabilities without letting individuals make independent decisions that could affect the entire business.”