It’s the dawn of a new year and, indeed, a new decade, which brings with it a good amount of self-reflection for individuals and organizations alike. Think for a second about how much has changed in the world of technology these past ten years. We won’t go down the long list—the point is that rapid change is the new norm, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
What does all of this mean for your organization for 2020 and beyond? How do you ensure you’re using your existing technology to its maximum potential? How do you vet new tools or solutions that could revolutionize your business? In other words: How do you refresh your IT and data efforts to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward with technology?
These can seem like frighteningly big questions, but staying on top of the best IT and data solutions is exactly what we do at InterWorks. We certainly don’t have all the answers, and nobody can predict the future, but we asked some of our directors for their thoughts on where business tech is headed for 2020. These folks are constantly evaluating new tools, software and methodologies to ensure we’re offering only the best to our client, so they know their business. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful as you consider the best way to approach 2020. Let’s see what they had to say.
Dan Murray – Director of Strategic Innovation
Q: Data visualization and democratization defined the 2010s. What’s the next big leap in data that people should be thinking about?
A: There’s some big things you can see if you look over the past ten years. First, the API universe has made it so much easier to connect disparate systems, especially now that so many of these systems are in the cloud. The technology has emerged over the past ten years, and now it’s all about getting people to become aware of it and use it in an effective way. To me, Snowflake is going to be the next big game-changer in data warehousing, much like Tableau has been for visual analytics. The reason there’s so much interest is because you can connect it to pretty much any platform. You can spin up an experiment in one or two days using your worst dashboard, connect to Snowflake, dial up compute and make just about any performance issue disappear. Snowflake’s latest release also makes it possible to for users to connect across AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. It all just works. This is great for companies that are geared toward acquisitions and growth.
Perhaps the bigger trend that Snowflake exemplifies is that owning a ton of hardware just doesn’t make much sense anymore. It’s kind of like owning a car. My daughters are in their 20s and would much rather live in a big city where they use Uber, Lyft or public transportation. It’s the same with compute hardware. Why would you want to own a server or multiple servers and then deal with the maintenance headache?
“As we approach the next decade, it’s clear to us that InterWorks’ mission must be to continue helping our customers integrate all their platforms, data and analytics into a cohesive experience. This will require coordinated efforts from each of our teams: Infrastructure, Data, Analytics, Experience and Enablement. It also requires deep, impactful relationships with each of our customers, which is always our focus and desired outcome.”
Another thing nobody talks about is the amount of extra work new technology creates for IT groups that haven’t adequately calibrated their systems to the accelerated pace of change. There are organizations that are versions and versions behind in their systems because they don’t have the bandwidth or desire to keep up. This, in turn, frustrates end users who want to take advantage of new features. Many are also afraid of change because there’s no way to systematically audit their reports. This isn’t a tech a problem; it’s a process problem. The tech gets better every year. The tools get more refined, and the learning curves aren’t as steep. It used to be that you would buy your IBDM or DB2 database and keep it for life because that’s all there was. Now, you have more than 300 databases that are commercially available. The point is that processes need to catch up. IT needs to shift from updating every three years to quarterly. This is where hosted solutions like ServerCare by InterWorks are making a big impact. They take away that burden of management and free up IT teams to do other work.
Finally, people are going to start buying the database they need for the workloads they have. Most companies can’t fathom that, and senior leadership understands even less. Even if IT can cast the right vision, the big challenge is in communicating that vision in plain English. If technical people can get better at distilling all that technical knowledge into a few sentences vs. a 20-minute dissertation, that’s where the leaps will start happening. Even better is when you can show it instead of just saying it. When someone can see firsthand that a certain piece of technology is better and potentially cheaper, the likelihood of organizational buy-in increases dramatically.
Eric Shiarla – Director of BI Markets and Delivery
Q: How has InterWorks’ approach to analytics evolved over the last decade? What’s the next step?
A: Looking back to 2010, data visualization was a niche market. Companies and individuals that adopted data visualization were ahead of the curve. Consequently, much of our time as a consultancy was spent teaching our customers why data visualization, specifically in Tableau, was a powerful approach to understanding their data.
Over the last decade, data visualization has become widely adopted. Now, it’s seen as an integral component of any company’s data strategy. How we work with customers has also evolved, shifting from why and how to use Tableau to how to successfully deploy and support it across the enterprise. All of this progress has led to greater access to data and analytics, oftentimes scattered across many different platforms and locations.
As we approach the next decade, it’s clear that InterWorks’ mission must be to continue helping our customers integrate all their platforms, data and analytics into a cohesive experience. This will require coordinated efforts from each of our teams: Infrastructure, Data, Analytics, Experience and Enablement. It also requires deep, impactful relationships with each of our customers, which is always our focus and desired outcome.
Daniel Holm – Director of Enterprise Solutions
Q: What do you think will be a game-changing enterprise IT solution for 2020 and why?
A: Great question. In this ever-evolving technology landscape, we see the hardware side of the world continually getting faster and more cost effective. It’s definitely not cheaper, but considering $/performance or $/capacity, hardware is a commodity we all need and rely on for nearly everything we do. The differentiator here is the software that layers on top of it.
The buzz of “software defined ___” is all over the place, but it’s truly a reality across most facets of our technical lives. Software and pseudo artificial intelligence are really the path forward for organizations. Evolutions in software have made our data centers easier to manage, migrations to the cloud simpler, business easier to transact, and security easier to practically manage and enforce. Outside of the IT-sphere, consider self-driving cars and smart lawn mowers. This is all here and now, yes. The Jetsons are most likely on their way ahead of 2062 if we don’t mess it up. Rewinding back to the question, though, the biggest focal point I like to urge folks to have in this shifting landscape is around security. Your information and systems are at risk. The risks are the people you employ, the systems and software you trust and the patching that you do your best to keep up with.
The game-changing enterprise solutions are those adding another layer of reasonable protection – and that varies depending on the organization and their maturity towards security. It may be VMware’s NSX for micro-segmentation and SD-WAN technologies, extra layers on antivirus like Sophos Intercept-X or EDR and MTR solutions. It might also be AI-driven systems like DarkTrace’s Enterprise Immune System and their Antigena autonomous response modules to help enhance security in real time and supplement security groups. The threat landscape continues to grow. Attacks are more targeted, creative and carry higher recovery costs and risks to organizations. Recent innovations in software have helped keep things efficient and forward-looking, but increased visibility and security is the necessary game-changer for 2020.
Aaron Richardson – Director of IT Practice Delivery
Q: What kind of IT support and service do you think clients will be looking for in 2020? How will providers like InterWorks adapt?
A: Cloud migration and security services are going to be the big thing for our service offerings. We are already in the process of working it out, but it is going to require us to work with our distributors and cloud providers. Together we must find, build or utilize the resources required to manage those environments in a way that allows clients to move around without worrying about cost explosions or potential security risks because they have moved to the cloud. It’s a mindset change that brings in complexity we’ve typically been able to avoid by keeping things on-premises for clients. However, with most clients moving their email to Microsoft Office 365, we are going to have to come up with offerings to complement that technology and the additional needs of clients.
Let’s Tackle the Future Together
If you’re considering refreshing the way you approach IT and data, one of your first thoughts might be that it seems pretty intimidating. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Whatever the next year (or ten) of tech brings, InterWorks is ready to help you get ahead of the game. Reach out to us today if you’re looking for that kind of trusted partner.