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Four Trends for 2020: Data, Cloud, Blockchain and S/4HANA

With the close of 2019 comes the start of a new decade.  It is always a challenge to look into the future and try to understand what might be coming, what might fuel the next excited surge in development or interest, but let’s give it a shot.  Here are the trends that we see taking over 2020 and beyond…

Data

Well this is a simple one to type (at least in terms of the word), but what do we mean?  Data has been growing exponentially and we have been able to keep up with our requirements through constant developments in the spaces of storage (Moore’s Law) and telecommunications.  Many posited that we would quickly come to a point at which we had more storage than we could ever need.  Indeed once we were able to store the digitised version of every word ever written, it was easy to think we had achieved that goal.  However what we did not conceive of back in those days, was quite how much new data we would be generating.  This trend is going to continue, and not just at a regular pace, but exponentially.  As we invest significantly more in edge computing, AI and of course high quality audio and video, the amount of data that we have to create, process and store will far surpass any expectations at the end of last decade.  Of course simply amassing reams of unstructured data is not going to help anyone to derive any value out of it.

Another consideration which is becoming ever more prevalent is the management, from a compliance viewpoint, of that dataGDPR came into effect in Europe in 2018, and similar regulations are being developed or implemented in other countries which forces organisations not just to amass data, but to consider the applicability and more importantly the security of that data.  So far GDPR has been used relatively sparingly in the application of fines for companies not taking these factors into consideration but it is to be expected that this will increase over the coming years.

This is where it becomes critical for organisations to have a clear data strategy, and to implement the tools and infrastructure to execute against that strategy.  How do you store your data?  Where do you store it?  For what purpose do you store it?  Where do you use it?  Who has access to it?  How transparently can you process data subject requests?  Nowadays a company must be able to answer these questions, ideally by referring to a clearly documented policy.  Policies are all very well though, the reality of extracting value from this data is what prompts companies to invest and for that you need to ensure you have vendor agnostic data integration systems in place such as Datavard Glue so as to utilise your hard fought for data across your leveraged infrastructure which brings us to the next trend…

Cloud

Another simple one to type, and anyone reading this will likely immediately point out that this (as with the previous trend) is nothing new.  Cloud has been identified as a trend in coming years for at least a decade.  Well 2020 (and most likely beyond) is not going to be any exception.  Cloud providers are growing year on year both in their user base as well as in the offerings they have available.  You would be hard pushed to find a company nowadays that does not have a cloud strategy, and the vast majority of those are actively utilising cloud providers to augment or in some cases even replace their on-premise legacy infrastructure.  And that’s the key trend we’re going to see in 2020: Cloud Providers.  As cloud offerings have grown the key players are struggling more and more to differentiate themselves from each other, which means that it is becoming easier and easier to switch from one to the other, or indeed to have multiple vendors in place at the same time.  This helps competition (as any student of capitalism will tell you) but also makes for a more difficult job for the company in question – if you rely too much on a vendor specific product to integrate your data with your cloud vendor, then you lose the flexibility to move at will.  What more and more companies are searching for is products that can support multiple cloud vendors – such as Datavard’s cloud ready tools such as OutBoard, Glue or DataFridge – so that they can remain flexible on which vendor to choose for which function.

This trend will also be accelerated with hyperautomation, with topics such as infrastructure as a code, becoming more prevalent.  This enables the time-consuming and human capital intensive activities related to infrastructure provision to be largely automated, helping companies to reduce costs while improving in areas such as quality, reliability and security.  Of course with more automation comes a requirement for more oversight of the systems being automatically deployed and managed.  We expect to see an increased demand for tools such as Datavard Insights which monitor an environment to give early warning signs of impending issues, allowing for actions to be taken prior to the issues becoming reality and impacting end users, and which can be used to integrate with data feeds from a multitude of different systems giving a high-level cockpit view of a strategically deployed platform.

Blockchain

As both of the first two trends continue to develop and gain traction, it is going to become ever more important to ensure the security and traceability of all of our data and transactions.  As companies split workloads into ever smaller components, distributing them across multiple vendors in the interests of cost and/or specificity, the demand for products or systems that can ensure the integrity of key transactions is going to increase.  True (or complete) blockchain based systems allows for this integrity to be achieved without centralised oversight or control, feeding quite well into the low cost and fully automated environments we will see in the very near future.

S/4HANA Migrations

Any predictions for 2020 without mentioned S/4 migrations would be incomplete.  As we have already detailed previously, the end of support date for ECC is coming up fast.  While 5 years may seem a long time, for many of the larger organisations this is still going to be a stretch to complete such a major migration in the available time.  Factor in the reality that there are only a finite number of experts in the area, and these are already in high demand, and there’s the distinct potential that companies will find it hard to put together project teams if they don’t start planning now.

There have been many discussions whether SAP will extend the deadline or not, however to accept that as a risk for one of the most critical systems a business has in operation, will be a significant challenge, especially for public companies.  SAP has been taking action in this direction by establishing groups like the Selective Data Migration Engagement to help companies who have particularly complex environments or plans, but if the companies do not start putting strategies together soon, this will not help.

 

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