Businesses today are highly aware of the need for digitalisation to stay competitive.
From small businesses starting out to enterprises going global, 98% of businesses in Singapore have already embarked on their digital transformation journey. The country’s Budget 2018 drives home the need for business leaders to continue focusing on innovation, building digital skills capabilities and internationalising their business.
When it comes to taking advantage of invisible accounting, artificial intelligence, machine learning or natural language processing, it is the innovation happening in software architecture and application programming that makes everything possible.
Software developments determine how the devices and apps we use evolve. Understanding the trajectory of software trends will help business leaders better predict where the next point of tech disruption will be, and perhaps gain the first mover advantage.
These are the five software trends business leaders need to know that will impact tech disruption in today’s market:
1. The rise of the application cloud
Cloud computing has been a game changer for businesses and consumers across the globe over the past decade and this trend continues to grow, as reported in the 2018 Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, a flagship study by BSA, The Software Alliance that assesses cloud computing policies around the globe.
Singapore ranks sixth out of 24 leading IT economies, compared to its ranking of seventh in 2016, a sign that the legal and regulatory environment for cloud computing in Singapore is encouraging cloud innovation. Moving forward, we will see cloud platforms increasingly competing on customer benefits rather than technology capability.
Few cloud platforms are purely technology platforms and can be more accurately described as application clouds delivering app-centric user experiences. The Apple iPhone pioneered the concept of an application cloud, with Salesforce later adopting it for businesses with the Lightning platform 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 is that platform choices in the cloud will only be partly driven by technology considerations; application clouds provide access to customers and markets. This becomes just as important a consideration for an independent software vendor (ISV) as the technological merits any platform may provide.
2. End of the road for monolithic software architectures
Software used to be designed for a given technology platform, leveraging and extending the architectural features of the ‘stack’, resulting quite literally in monolithic software products.
The shift to customer-centric ‘experience’ platforms makes this approach less attractive as it creates a dilemma. Implement an application on a particular platform, and it will only ever work in that environment; design in a monolithic fashion, and it will lack the architectural flexibility to embrace customer-experience platforms.
Expect to see this debate played-out in software labs across the world throughout the rest of the year, and well into the next.
3. De-productisation through microservices
This shift away from monolithic architectures is being driven by the mass migration towards microservice architecture. Microservices is an architectural approach that revolves around disassembling an application into a set of independent services that are developed, deployed, and maintained separately.
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. Another example is Sage Business Cloud, a business platform and service ecosystem for companies of all sizes, across a range of verticals that was recently launched globally.
4. 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).
Throughout the rest of the year, we will see a generational shift in PaaS to ‘serverless’ environments, a technology in which the cloud provider dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources. Serverless applications do not require the provisioning, scaling, and management of any servers, and pricing is based on the actual processing consumed not on capacity provisioned. Amazon Lambda and Microsoft Azure Functions are two leading examples of this technology.
Serverless, event-driven programming models are set to revolutionise software architecture; it is the secret sauce behind many of the headline-grabbing technology developments.
5. Rules of software distribution 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 on which ISV applications depended. In the future, the seams between customer solution and platform will be less recognisable – consequently, the ISV will assume a greater share of the value chain. For example, Office 365 is now fully embedded in some Sage Business Cloud solutions.
Technologies previously considered disruptive are already commonplace – think social media and business analytics. The next wave of technology change will come sooner than we all think. With a better understanding of the technology trends powering disruption, business leaders can then start planning their next move, to stay ahead of the competition.