Innovation

Why 2018 will see the rise of the 'no collar' workforce, blockchains, and enterprise VR

IT will continue to transition into a unit that drives business value in the new year, according to Deloitte.

IT's role within the enterprise will continue to evolve in 2018, as core systems continue to digitally transform and new technologies build upon existing ones, according to Deloitte's annual Tech Trends report, published Wednesday.

"Technology trends are no longer just the CIO's or CTO's responsibility. It's become a CxO, CEO and even board-level conversation," Bill Briggs, CTO and principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP, said in a press release. "We now see many forward-thinking organizations approach disruptive change more strategically. Instead of launching separate, domain-specific initiatives, they are thinking about exploration, use cases and deployment more holistically. Increasingly, they are focusing on how multiple disruptive technologies can work together to drive meaningful and measurable impact across the enterprise."

Deloitte predicts the following eight trends are likely to impact businesses in the next 18-24 months.

SEE: Virtual reality spotlight: What can VR bring to the enterprise? (Tech Pro Research)

1. Reeingineering technology

As business strategies become inextricably linked to technology, leading organizations are transforming IT departments into units that can drive business growth. IT's responsibilities increasingly include back office systems, operations, and even product and platform offerings, according to Deloitte.

These leading companies "are taking a two-pronged approach to modernizing both the bottom-up infrastructure and architecture stack and the top-down approach to organizing, operating, and delivering technology capabilities," according to the report. These approaches, when taken together, can offer greater efficiency and better prepare companies for future tech changes.

2. No-collar workforce

The rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) may require companies to reinvent worker roles, assigning some to humans, others to machines, and others to a hybrid team. This will require a new type of HR organization, which retrains workers and creates new policies for managing virtual workers and bots that make up the "no collar" workforce.

"By redesigning legacy practices, systems, and talent models around the tenets of autonomics, HR groups can begin transforming themselves into nimble, fast-moving, dynamic organizations well positioned to support the talent—both mechanized and human—of tomorrow," according to the report.

3. Enterprise data sovereignty

Businesses increasingly want to make their data assets "free," or accessible and actionable across business units and departments. This requires companies to take more modern approaches to data architecture and data governance, using machine learning, natural language processing, and automation to better understand relationships, guide storage, and manage rights, the report noted.

4. The new core

While businesses often look to the cloud, cognitive, and other digital technologies as means to create new customer experiences and products, they sometimes fail to consider how these technologies can be used in core back- and mid-office systems to change how work gets done. Next-generation ERP, blockchain, machine intelligence, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) can all help mission critical functions become more efficient.

5. Digital reality

While augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products were first aimed at consumers, their more valuable use cases may be in the enterprise, where adoption is increasing. "Driven by a historic transformation in the way we interact with technology and data, market leaders are shifting their focus from pilots and niche offerings to strategies anchored in innovative use cases and prototypes designed for industrialization," the report stated.

Addressing issues such as integration experiences, cloud deployment, connectivity, and access will lay the groundwork for broader deployments. "These early adopters recognize a shift in the AR/VR winds: The time to embrace digital reality is now," according to the report.

6. Blockchain to blockchains

As blockchains become more widely adopted, organizations should begin standardizing on the technology, talent, and platforms to drive future blockchain initiatives, Deloitte said. "Beyond these immediate steps, they should also look to the horizon for the next big blockchain opportunity: coordinating, integrating, and orchestrating multiple blockchains working together across a value chain," according to the report.

7. API imperative

As companies increasingly design and build technology assets that they expect to reuse, they are embracing the "API imperative," or the strategic creation and deployment of services and platforms for use within and outside of the enterprise. This requires a new set of skills to expose, control, and manage APIs as products, Deloitte noted.

8. Exponential technology watch list

Exponential technology opportunities, such as quantum computing and AI, are quickly becoming a reality, leading top organizations to begin developing the capabilities they will need "to sense, scan, vet, incubate, and scale exponential opportunities," the report stated.

"The old lines are blurring," Briggs said in the release. "Instead of thinking within industry and business line verticals, and business process or technology platform horizontals, we're entering a world of diagonals - transcending technical scope and traditional organizational boundaries. These technology trends are enabling an entirely new way of solving problems and uncovering business opportunities."

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Image: iStockphoto/monsitj

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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