vCORE Technology Partners | Feb. 25, 2021
The sudden, unexpected arrival of a global pandemic in early 2020 provided a stark reminder that seemingly anything can happen, at any time.
Predictions — even the well-educated ones — are always subject to that pesky, pervasive element of random chance.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Earlier this month, a group of CIOs from enterprise organizations across the Southwestern U.S. gathered virtually to share their best guesses on what 2021 may hold in store. The Predictions Panel, sponsored by vCORE, posed a question many wish they could know for sure:
As the world continues to work toward ending a global pandemic, what can we expect from the technology realm to help businesses, communities, and individuals find their way forward?
The two lead panelists, CIOs from the FinTech and manufacturing industries, predicted growth in areas such as artificial intelligence and remote connectivity, while dozens of IT executives in attendance indicated the development of hybrid-cloud environments ranks high on their list of priorities in the coming year.
Addressing connectivity gaps in under-served areas
Manufacturers such as Arizona-based Benchmark Electronics, where Scott Hicar leads the technology team as CIO, are seeing an increase in the adoption of connected smart-devices as the Internet of Things continues to expand its footprint.
While infrastructure upgrades, including the advent of 5G, are helping to enable greater connectivity in more dense, urban areas, the cost of repeater antennae and the nature of the topology makes it more difficult in rural communities, Hicar told the predictions panel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredible test of the stress of connectivity around the world as workers and students suddenly went remote.
“It has called out that places with more money, more infrastructure, and better services for access to the Internet are doing better,” Hicar said. It has continued to create a bifurcation of society in terms of who can get to the Internet, and who can get to it with speed.”
That’s where entrepreneurs and technology pioneers like Elon Musk come in to play. Musk is currently expanding his Starlink satellite internet venture, which he sees as a way to cover the globe with high-speed internet through a network of private satellites.
In January, the company surpassed 1,000 satellites launched. This month, Starlink revealed it has 10,000 subscribers, with plans to prioritize people without access to high-speed internet as the company grows, according to CNET.
“Places that had typically been poverty-stricken will be getting their first connectivity through a satellite-based Internet scheme,” Hicar predicted. Over the next three to five years, as connectivity barriers are pulled back, the reality of IoT devices will really accelerate, he said.
Growth of AI as a tool for business innovation
CIO Ram Bajaj, who leads IT at financial technology provider CheckAlt in Southern California, predicted that advances in artificial intelligence will help businesses like his better understand and mitigate risk, while also fueling improvements in customer experience.
As CheckAlt processes checks and credit card payments, AI technology is already helping the company to answer questions such as where the money is coming from, does it get held, and who is carrying the risk.
On the product side, the firm is using AI to automate the completion of forms within the treasury system, resulting in quicker on-boarding of clients. For the customer experience, Bajaj is looking into leveraging AI to enable the product development teams to put in plain text how they envision products, and the artificial intelligence will create the buns and forms to support it.
“There’s a lot of innovative ideas where we as developers can stand back and give more power to our business owners to come up with designs,” Bajaj said. “It can even go as far as coding. So very heavy on the AI side.”
Greater adoption of hybrid cloud architectures
Public cloud adoption accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as organizations looked for ways to respond more quickly to business and customer needs. That model introduces its own challenges, however, including the expensive price tag and greater latency from public cloud providers, Hicar and Bajaj agreed.
“Over four or five years, sometimes you find it’s cost-prohibitive to do things straight into the cloud,” Bajaj said. “Once they get the customer, they make very difficult to get out, and we have to keep that in mind.”
As a manufacturing company with factories and shop floors, Benchmark’s biggest risk is latency to the manufacturing process, Hicar. That requires on-premises hardware to handle time-sensitive workloads, while other activities have been moved to the public cloud, he said.
That sort of hybrid model, where environments can leverage on-prem and public-cloud infrastructure seamlessly and in a way that optimizes cost, is on the minds of many leading IT executives.
According to polling conducted among more than 70 CIOs in attendance, nearly half of them identified the development of a hybrid-cloud model as the No. 1 cloud trend they are laser-focused on in 2021. That was about twice as many as the second-highest priority: providing hyper-automation across the business.
vCORE’s customer base, which includes global enterprises and more than a dozen of the Fortune 500, have expressed similar priorities, and our Cloud Platforms & Services team has invested deeply in the expertise to assist clients in adopting hybrid cloud architectures.
Here’s one recent example of how the vCORE Cloud team helped a major insurance firm leverage VMware Cloud on AWS to rapidly deploy VDI improvements during the pandemic.
Learn more about cloud solutions available from vCORE here.
More from the vCORE Technology Blog
Considerations for Hybrid Cloud Application Architecture – Serverless
Modern Identity Solution Provides Business Agility for Station Casinos
As Ransomware Threats Rise, an Air-Gapped Data Protection Solution Can Mitigate Risk