2021 is a time to hit IT for Six!

 

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The six IT trends that will drive your organisation this year

As your organisation faces up to the impact of the year that was 2020 and now looks ahead, I believe these are the six IT themes, or strategies, that will drive us to a successful 2021 and beyond.

I have noted as I have read technology trends over the last 10 years that the list seems very similar from year to year and I am sure you will see some good old favourites in this list as well.

 

1. Alignment of Corporate and IT strategy

In many organisations there has been a difference of opinion in the correct strategy that a business should take. CEO’s have had for years to deal with competing demands from the various fiefdoms. The CFO wants costs cut and have a reduction in FTE’s, the HR Director wants to recruit more people and develop the existing team, the COO wants to outsource everything, and the CTO or IT Director has been going on about Cyber Security and Business Resilience for years.  In many organisations I met over the last 5 years the IT function had even been moved to report to the Finance Director.

Well now the global reality is that your IT Strategy and your Organisational Strategy must be more aligned than ever. The marketplace, your customers and your staff now all work in and expect a new normal, and your IT systems need to deliver in this new reality. Your competitors do not care if you have adopted hundreds of bespoke applications that don’t integrate, and your prospective customers will not put up with a poor experience due to deficiencies in legacy systems, or a service provided to you by an outsourcer.

 

2. Meeting Customer and Staff Expectations

2020 only brought to a head a change that was coming anyway. We all demand more from the systems we use, either as a customer or as an employee. It must be always on, work from anywhere, and support any channel; mobile, desktop, tablet, phone, portal, and paper.

This isn’t news, it is common sense. But so many organisations have a fragmented and disparate approach. Email and messaging systems are managed by IT, the website and CRM by marketing, the call centre is managed by operations, and the mailroom was outsourced years ago.

Thus 2021 is a year to deliver an exceptional experience across all channels.

 

3. Cloud Only and Rationalise

What started as a cloud first approach changed last year, and now many organisations are adopting a Cloud Only stance. Any new application must be a fully robust, hyper-secure, and delivered as a 100% HTML 5 application in a fully managed cloud environment or into your own fully managed private cloud.

Legacy systems need to be migrated and rationalised as there has been a proliferation of applications bought by the business as point solutions. These point solutions were seen as quick wins with prebuilt functionality to meet many of your needs, but many organisations end up with hundreds of these point solutions all running in separate data silos for different users but broadly offering similar functionality. Smart companies are investing in no code low code application development environments and replacing huge swathes of disparate systems with all the associated costs of upkeep and management.

 

4. Data, data everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Slightly adapting Samuel Taylor Coleridges’ Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner who was surrounded by water but was dying of thirst. 2021 is going to be the year where the promises of big data start to come true.

If you have moved processes and systems to hundreds of cloud and outsource providers, then it becomes almost impossible to understand the true dataflows across your organisations. Much of the vital information that you need is hidden in third party portals or systems that you don’t own or can’t access in the way you need to. Yes, each application has its own dashboard but are you really expected to look across hundreds of them?

However, if as we said in the last point you rationalise your systems then the data possibilities expand exponentially, you can also use RPA tools to collect this information form sources that your ETL tools couldn’t reach.

 

5. AI and ML deliver Hyper Automation

In 2020 you couldn’t read an IT providers brochure without being promised Artificial Intelligence, however in many cases this was just a couple of algorithms and some clever marketing. 2021 will see the smart organisations invest in true AI driven low code or no code applications that will replace much of their legacy estate and empower employees to develop the systems they need to augment their working practices. These tools have baked in Machine Learning so watch and learn what users do to minimise future work.

2020 promised that RPA would deliver Hyper Automation but anyone who didn’t just sell RPA knew that RPA alone couldn’t deliver on that promise. You needed a low code no code application that could deliver hundreds of automations easily.  A simple test is the right tools should be delivering hundreds of automations a year, be federated in nature so all employees can develop their own automations and yet allow for enterprise wide control and security.

 

6. Trust No One - Cyber Security is critical

Finally, we will all adopt a trust no one approach to internet and application security and Cyber security will rise to the top of the requirements for any organisational landscape.  For years Cyber Security has been the Boy who cried wolf in budget meetings. But just like the apocryphal story, the day you lower your vigilance, the wolf will attack.

All the trends show that we are becoming more reliant on cloud solutions and all the press stories we read of breaches, are from companies who thought they were secure. The reality is that you aren’t. You need to be continually checking, updating and refining your security model in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the hackers and criminals trying to break your systems. Your customers trust you to do this, and a breach of that trust not only brings punitive fines but the reputational loss, might just close you down.

So that brings me to the end of my top six trends in IT for 2021. Do you think I have got them right? Are there any that I have missed? Please let me know, I will be excited to hear from you.

Have a safe 2021 and I look forward to reflecting on this list in 12 months’ time.

Want to know more?

Twofold Ltd assists businesses to overcome these challenges with our range of mailroom and data solutions. From mailroom equipment, scanning and capture, to document management and full digital transformation, contact us via the form here, or give the team a call on 0118 951 9800.

Tim Miller

Digital mailroom Specialist

Tim Miller Digital Transformation expert Twofold Ltd

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