Enterprises enhanced their investments in telecom and IT infrastructure in a bid to further their digital transformation journey. The adoption of next-generation technologies including the cloud, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data gained traction with organisations increasingly relying on them to drive cost and operational efficiencies. There was also a growing interest in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), robotics, blockchain and 3D printing. However, as enterprises transition to new technologies, security is emerging as a major concern. The IT heads of leading enterprises discuss the key challenges and their technology roadmap for 2018…

What were the key technology trends witnessed in the enterprise space during 2017?

AI and machine learning have made massive progress in 2017 and will soon be­come a part of every technology-en­ab­led thing, application or service. Intelligent assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa have made routine tasks much easier. Another up­coming trend is that of chatbots, which are being increasingly used as communication tools. IoT pro­ducts have gained momentum in the market, creating smart offices and homes that have applications and utility for impro­ved security solutions, smart appliances with efficient energy consumption, effective climate control, etc. Blockchain gained momentum in 2017. Also, the adoption of the public, hybrid and private cloud accelerated significantly in 2017.

What is the level of adoption of new technologies such as cloud, big data analytics and IoT among Indian enterprises?

Indian enterprises are at different stages of the digital transformation curve today. The cloud has become an indispensable tool for companies to achieve economies of scale and gain an edge over competitors. Earlier, the main reason for buying-in was the price advantage, but of late, the agility factor is more sought after. Companies today are depending on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings more than ever before. IoT is present in almost every industry now, making every product or service smart. Big data analytics took huge strides in 2017, with adoption reaching over 53 per cent from only 17 per cent in 2015. Telecom and financial services are the biggest adopters, followed by technology and health care. Predictive analysis of social/consumer data and data warehousing optimisation are tools being increasingly used by enterprises. Comp­a­nies can monitor expenses, cut costs, build for the future, and increase data-driven decision-making. 3D printing has come of age and emerged from prototyping to assuming a role in full-scale designing and mass production.

“The use of AI to enhance decision-making, improve the customer experience and cut costs will drive the business case for digital initiatives.”
Sarbani Bhatia

What are the key challenges faced while adopting and managing new technologies?

Technology leaders need to have clarity of vision before implementing any new technology. A thorough assessment of the benefits of the innovation, process of testing and implementation, and identification of the sources of resistance and hindrance must be undertaken. The new system or plat­form needs to be communicated and demonstrated clearly to the users. In my experience, three steps are crucial for a successful transition to any new technology or product. The first step is assessing the perfect solution as per the needs of an enterprise. Implementing every new technology is not a good practice. It should be integrable with the existing technologies as well as cost-effective. The second step is preparing the users and IT teams to receive, manage and make use of the new product. The final step is shifting the ownership of the technology to the user teams after a smooth roll-out and a hand-holding gestation period by IT.

Which technology trends are likely to domin­ate the enterprise space in 2018?

IoT is bringing in more and more objects into the digital fold every day. This trend will continue to permeate our lives in 2018. Convergence of new technologies will make IoT implementation much easier and faster. Blockchain can make IoT devices much safer. Blockchain is poised to find many more deployments in 2018 across verticals. The use of AI to en­hance decision-making, improve the customer experience, reinvent business models and ecosystems, cut costs and boost revenue growth will drive the business case for digital initiatives in the year ahead. The year 2018 is also expected to be the year of bots. More and more businesses are investing in getting chatbots developed to serve their customers better. Large- and mid-sized enterprises will continue to adopt cloud-centric solutions as they realise that privacy and security threats are being effectively mitigated. Cloud computing will start to move towards edge computing in times to come. The adoption of newer technologies will result in a proliferation of data, giving rise to several points of technological vulnerability, in turn paving the way for adaptive, pre-emptive and multilayered security solutions.