Four En­ter­prise Trends to Ex­pect in 2018

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Pieter Ben­sch, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent, Africa & Mid­dle East of Sage Im­age © istockphoto.com

In­no­va­tion in soft­ware ar­chi­tec­ture should be closely fol­lowed in or­der to take full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties it brings.

African busi­nesses should not be fooled into think­ing that tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion in 2018 is just about con­nected cars, talk­ing ro­bots, and smart­phones with fa­cial recog­ni­tion. The real rev­o­lu­tion is hap­pen­ing in new forms of soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing that are bring­ing a range of cool apps, gad­gets, and ser­vices to life.

Here are four soft­ware trends to watch out for this year:

The Rise of the Ap­pli­ca­tion Cloud Cloud com­put­ing has been a gamechanger for busi­nesses of all sizes over the past decade. This year, we will see the mar­ket for cloud plat­forms com­pete on cus­tomer ben­e­fits rather than tech­nol­ogy ca­pa­bil­ity. Few cloud plat­forms are pure tech­nol­ogy plat­forms and could be more ac­cu­rately de­scribed as ap­pli­ca­tion ecosys­tems de­liv­er­ing app-cen­tric user ex­pe­ri­ences.

Ap­ple pi­o­neered this con­cept of an ap­pli­ca­tion cloud with the App Store, and Sales­force adopted it for busi­ness with its Light­ning Plat­form (aka Force.com) and Appex­change. Mi­crosoft is tak­ing Of­fice 365 and el­e­ments of Azure in a sim­i­lar direc­tion, while Face­book and Google re­main cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence plat­form providers to watch.

The im­pli­ca­tion of this shift in 2018 is that en­ter­prises in Africa should not only con­sider the tech­ni­cal mer­its of their cloud providers and ap­pli­ca­tions, they should also eval­u­ate how their plat­form choices will give them ac­cess to cus­tomers, mar­kets, and ecosys­tems of value-added apps and ser­vices.

De-pro­duc­ti­sa­tion through Mi­croser­vices and “Api-fi­ca­tion”

Mass mi­gra­tion to­wards ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gram­ming in­ter­faces (APIS) and mi­croser­vices is shift­ing the soft­ware world to move away from the mono­lithic ar­chi­tec­tures of the past.

Api-fi­ca­tion is an ar­chi­tec­tural ap­proach that en­ables the cre­ation of in­ter­faces be­tween two soft­ware prod­ucts to pro­vide users with the abil­ity to ac­cess ad­di­tional fea­tures or data. Mi­croser­vices is an ar­chi­tec­tural ap­proach that re­volves around break­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion down into a set of in­de­pen­dent ser­vices that are de­vel­oped, de­ployed, and main­tained sep­a­rately.

This is the vi­sion and long-term strat­egy be­hind Sage Busi­ness Cloud, a busi­ness plat­form and ser­vice ecosys­tem for com­pa­nies of all sizes, across a range of ver­ti­cals. In the long-run, tech­nol­ogy will aban­don the no­tion of a prod­uct com­pletely and switch to an ar­chi­tec­ture that is made up en­tirely of mi­croser­vices, sim­i­lar to how Ama­zon orig­i­nally en­vis­aged re­assem­bling its Ama­zon.com e-com­merce ap­pli­ca­tion with Ama­zon Web Ser­vices build­ing blocks.

In­fra­struc­ture Shifts to Server­less, Event-driven Pro­gram­ming Mod­els

Mi­croser­vices re­quire in­fra­struc­ture to op­er­ate in a layer typ­i­cally re­ferred to as “plat­form as a ser­vice” (Paas). This year will see a shift in Paas to server­less en­vi­ron­ments, a tech­nol­ogy in which the cloud provider dy­nam­i­cally man­ages the al­lo­ca­tion of ma­chine re­sources. Th­ese server­less, event-driven pro­gram­ming mod­els are set to rev­o­lu­tionise soft­ware ar­chi­tec­ture.

Server­less ap­pli­ca­tions do not re­quire the pro­vi­sion­ing, scal­ing, and man­age­ment of any servers, and pric­ing is based on the pro­cess­ing con­sumed rather than on ca­pac­ity pro­vi­sioned. Ama­zon Lambda and Mi­crosoft Azure Func­tions are two lead­ing ex­am­ples of this tech­nol­ogy.

Soft­ware Dis­tri­bu­tion Rules be­ing Rewrit­ten

In the past, com­puter distrib­u­tors played a vi­tal role in push­ing dis­crete tech­nol­ogy build­ing blocks like op­er­at­ing sys­tems and pro­duc­tiv­ity soft­ware into the mar­ket. In the fu­ture, the seams be­tween cus­tomer so­lu­tion and plat­form will be less recog­nis­able, and the in­de­pen­dent soft­ware ven­dor will as­sume a greater share of the value chain. For ex­am­ple, Of­fice 365 is now fully em­bed­ded in some Sage Busi­ness Cloud so­lu­tions.

Th­ese four trends are mak­ing tech­nol­ogy smarter, more con­nected, and of greater value to the end-user. At Sage, that helps us ful­fil our mis­sion to make life eas­ier for our cus­tomers, whether you are a small busi­ness start­ing-out or you are go­ing global and ex­port­ing across the world. And when we talk about in­vis­i­ble ac­count­ing, tak­ing ad­van­tage of artificial in­tel­li­gence, ma­chine learn­ing, and neuro-lin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming, it is the in­no­va­tion in soft­ware ar­chi­tec­ture and ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gram­ming that is mak­ing it all pos­si­ble.

In the long-run, tech­nol­ogy will aban­don the no­tion of a prod­uct com­pletely and switch to an ar­chi­tec­ture that is made up en­tirely of mi­croser­vices.

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