Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Technology Outlook: What Themes are Driving Businesses Forward in 2020?

This time last year, we took an earnest look at how organizations, regardless of size or industry, must approach budgeting for technology. Our take on 2019 was focused primarily on the need for ongoing conversations between key decision makers specific to the utilization of technology as well as a continued strategy around the need to shift to a culture of technology reliance. The predictive outlook also anticipated a movement towards significantly more affordable technology and solutions.

Throughout 2019, organizations witnessed how important the latest technology offerings were to the success of their business, and how decreasing key technology costs made adoption all the more prevalent. As we are a month into 2020, there are four pivotal focus areas organizations need to keep in mind as they are incorporating technology into their strategic planning and budgeting processes.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is always going to be a topic of discussion, therefore best practices surrounding cybersecurity will always be in a state of restructure and evolution. The frequency of cyberattacks and the size of the attacks continues to increase and become more complex. While the latest technology is certainly safer than outdated technology, the most important aspect is a strongly-defined program and set of processes supporting organizational cybersecurity.

As more and more businesses switch over to cloud-based solutions, organizational anxiety around informational security has risen as well. There are a lot of organizations new to the cloud, especially after 2019 witnessed high adoption rates. However, simply moving key information and processes to the cloud doesn’t guarantee safety (although one can easily argue it’s more secure than on-premise legacy solutions). These organizations have spent a lot of time getting the proper cybersecurity posture while adopting cloud technology. The next big step is redesigning and reengineering their processes behind cloud security and controls. It is important for an organization to understand where their data resides once it has been moved to the cloud or a new solution.

One of the largest organizational cybersecurity risks are its employees and 3rd party vendors. An organization’s people will always be the biggest threat (through error, accidents, carelessness or malice), therefore, having a sound, mature cybersecurity education and training program is just as important as any other cybersecurity process.

California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)

The CCPA went into effect January 1, 2020, and despite only officially being applicable to consumers in the State of California, this piece of legislation will implement sweeping changes to how organizations do business.

You can read the full bill here, but essentially the CCPA provides California residents with certain rights over the data companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other data brokers collect on you. The CCPA provides consumers with the right to know how their information is being used or sold by an organization that collects information on them. It gives California residents the right to delete their personal information as well, and organizations must comply, delete it, and even provide evidence that the information was deleted back to the consumer.

This bill imposes important regulations on many organizations that their cybersecurity solutions will have to go through – how personal information and data is collected, stored, disseminated, and disposed. With most organizations having customers based in California, this legislation will likely apply to them. Major data privacy and cybersecurity legislation typically originates in California or New York.  and is soon thereafter submitted to Congress for a nationwide implementation.

Adoption

We saw a wave of cloud adoption take place in 2019, and we will continue to see adaptors moving to the cloud in 2020. By now, most, if not all, organizations have realized the cloud is the furthest thing from another corporate buzzword. Cloud computing players a critical operational role in modern organizations.

In 2019, 66% of enterprises already had a cloud service  with 21% of remaining organizations planning to adopt in the coming year. Despite the rate of adoption, there is still an abundant number of organizations that have yet to make the switch to the cloud. A surprising number of organizations are still running on-premise legacy systems.

The time to adopt cloud-based software and to budget for an adoption is now. A lot of organizations are hesitant to invest in new software particularly in a world where they paid heavily upfront and with significant recurring annual support costs versus the cloud where they pay a monthly fee for the service. However, data around the cost of ownership on cloud systems consistently demonstrates that cloud adoption is financially and operationally cheaper. Not only are cloud packages cheaper than legacy systems, they’re also more functional, provide better access to data, and streamline organizational processes. Many cloud systems are highly customizable and easily integrated with other tools and technologies, something that can become a major obstacle for outdated legacy systems.

Adoption doesn’t just happen overnight. The nature of a cloud adoption is a multi-year process. This is why it continues to be a recurring theme in technology trends, because many organizations are engaged in the ongoing transition process.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI takes up even more headline space than cloud technology does these days. Similar to cloud computing, artificial intelligence is a topic that has been relevant technology topic for many years. AI means different things to different people, so it’s challenging to capture its organizational priority and impact as organizations can utilize AI for various strategies or services.

It’s no secret organizations have a challenging time attracting and retaining top talent. Finding the right resources is a major pain point that is gradually being addressed by the use of AI (to some it means augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence) to fill in important skill and need gaps. However, the general consensus remains that AI is not replacing people/jobs at all, but it is further enhancing organizations by ensuring key functions are adequately performed even when the talent is unavailable.

AI is making businesses smarter every day. Organizations spent roughly $10 billion on AI-related technology in 2019 and that number is expected to grow to $120 billion by 2025. Just like cybersecurity will continue to be a topic of discussion, AI will play an increasingly important role in technology and business in the coming years.

These investment areas are not brand-new topics for most, but the need to incorporate these important topics into your organization’s operational and technology strategies is more important than ever. For many, technology is a difficult piece of the puzzle simply because of how dynamic the technology industry. It is important to stay on top of what is a trend versus a necessary strategy to help your organization evolve, grow and succeed

If you have any questions about how to properly incorporate technology into your organization’s strategy – please contact us.