Firms will need to focus on the AQ or Adaptability Quotient of its people so that time to productivity with new technologies is reduced.
The past year saw the fastest pace of change the technology industry has yet experienced. But this is only just the beginning, says Nathan Bryant-Taukiri, managing director of Potentia.
Those businesses and individuals that can adapt fastest will benefit most. The key challenge through 2017 will be to focus on aligning talent with technology strategies but with increased cadence, says Bryant-Taukiri.
He shares highlights of Potentia’s latest Innovation, Digital and Technology (IDT) Insights on the trends CIOs and their executive peers, plus their respective teams, need to prepare for in 2017.
The future of jobs
Technology is changing at a breakneck pace, moreso now than ever before. The impact of exponential technologies is becoming significant, meaningfully altering the IDT job landscape and to a much greater extent than we’ve seen in past years.
Emerging technologies are being embraced swiftly, the increased productivity they bring forcing yesterday’s new technologies rapidly into obsolescence. The industry is struggling to keep pace with this from a talent perspective. The taxonomy to describe roles, functions and skills is sorely lacking and this is starting to become obvious.
Companies are not sure how to structure technology functions to align with these changes and with the wider industry, or even in some instances what to title these emerging jobs. To realise the benefit these technologies promise employers need to bridge the skills gap.
Acquiring new skills by hiring is ideal but limited due to a shortage in supply and at times the change cycles are too short to see the maturity lag catch up sufficiently to make a difference. From 2017, we firstly need to see industry effort to create a ‘right-weight’ taxonomy and, secondly, in order to move with the right velocity firms will need to focus on so-called AQ - the Adaptability Quotient of its people so that time to productivity with new technologies is reduced.
As appetite for data-driven insights at the Board and C-level grow, expect to see what many already consider to be outrageous remunerations get stratospheric.
The cloud paradigm has matured to the point that organisations are now transitioning large workloads to the Cloud, particularly as security and latency risks dissipate. This strategy is also being leveraged to address several legacy pain points such as end-of-life cycling for hardware and operating systems. Now that Infrastructure as a Service is mainstreamed, established Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are now differentiating their platforms to meet a wide range of industry requirements by leveraging ecosystem partners. As a result ,the demand for cloud migration skills is giving way to the need for capability around cloud orchestration, fabrication and performance optimisation - a trend that is expected to grow next year.
Sri Gazula, chief operating officer at Revera, notes that: “Vendors must position themselves to provide a wide range of Infrastructure and Platform as a Service capabilities that organisations can leverage to transform and grow their business. We’re addressing this with a company-in-a-box approach that enables rapid adoption.”
To realise this, experienced people are needed with the skills to architect integrated cloud-centric solutions - and we simply do not seem to have enough of them available.
2016 has seen another year of landmark international cybersecurity events, notably the Panama Papers and Yahoo’s 500 million account hacks. Businesses large and small have been targeted and huge media attention has brought to light the serious vulnerability of both customer data and whole technology ecosystems.
Traditionally, New Zealand businesses have relied on in-house engineers or IT service providers to manage security in a reactive state. The high visibility security events have resulted in board-level query leading to organisations shifting to a more proactive analysis of internal and external environments to secure their digital assets.
Not only this, but we have also seen a rise in culture shifts - training and education, and security standards and policies, particularly regarding the use of computers and mobile devices. Internationally, the accountability for securing firm digital assets is now considered enterprise-level risk and as such there is a transition of this accountability away from IT teams - a trend that we can expect to see in New Zealand.
Forbes reports that corporations and governments will spend roughly $100 billion on cybersecurity over the next four to five years and this begins with upskilling and continues with hiring new resources. Most network and systems engineers are eager to acquire more security-based skills as their roles are now demanding. From here we will see more security analysts and specialist engineers, led by a dedicated security manager, or in the case of larger enterprises, a dedicated, fully accountable C-level role.
This time last year, firms were pursuing digital strategies that resulted in significant technology group restructures. The appointment of appropriate leaders in CIO and CDO roles were completed in the first quarter of 2016. As these people have settled in their roles they have progressed the appointment of their direct reports which has led to the commencement of subsequent changes at the next tier. This has resulted in the disestablishment of a relatively large number of individuals across these organisations - many of whom have accepted redundancy and have re-entered the job market. We expect more stability in relation to this initiative in the next period, however early signs of more technology-driven job disruption is emerging. An example of this is the widespread introduction of intelligent business process automation tools such as Pegasystems and its potential to further displace people in legacy roles while driving the demand for new skills.
Enthusiasm from software developers to get into AI far outstrips the market demand for these skills given so few firms are commercialising AI-driven applications as yet.
The science of data
Descriptive and predictive analytics
In 2016 we saw the continued rise of data science and analytics. Ranked as the best job in the United States because of its high earning potential, abundant career opportunities, and large number of job openings, this trend was also reflected in New Zealand. Data driven-decision making has been a major priority for NZ businesses in 2016 so the exponential growth in demand we have seen in this area is not surprising.
Interestingly the rapid increase in demand for data science capability has also boosted the demand for those with skills in BI and data warehousing. Data science and advanced analytics became a catalyst for major BI projects in order to realise the most overall value.
The role of the reporting analyst and data analyst took a step backwards this year. Hindsight analytics made way for predictive and foresight analytics to come to the fore. Continued automation of reporting and widespread introduction of visualisation tools means the need for the classic reporting analyst has diminished.
As we move into 2017, Big data will become more of a true play locally. Currently limited, the adoption of cloud-based big data tech will increase, driving greater demand for professionals in the data science and analysis field. As appetite for data-driven insights at the Board and C-level grow, expect to see what many already consider to be outrageous remunerations get stratospheric.
Prescriptive analytics - AI and machine learning
2016 has seen artificial intelligence (AI) take the world by storm. All of the biggest tech-centric firms including Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have invested heavily in AI, providing computing services and interactive experiences that exhibit responsive, intelligent behaviour. These are making our lives easier, anticipating our desires and often catering to our impulsive consumerism. Practically all research and consulting organisations have weighed in with reports and predictions that describe the forthcoming impactful change. Expect AI to become mainstream globally throughout next year with AI-powered business apps becoming the norm.
We expect 2017 to be the year of the bots - embedded chat automatons that interact with us directly, responding to our problems and requests and actioning pre-defined processes to drive efficiency. The business case for such agents is obvious: swapping a bot for a human. These innovations offer a fairly low risk approach to introducing AI to the app and organisation as text based interaction is easier and cheaper to implement than voice equivalents.
Machine learning, the data analysis method most responsible for realising AI, that enables computers to derive actionable insights without being told where to look ,is barely present in New Zealand. Enthusiasm from software developers to get into AI far outstrips the market demand for these skills given so few firms are commercialising AI-driven applications as yet.
Sagi Adiv, an Israeli national now residing in New Zealand and a leader in the data and analytics space says that we currently lack sufficiently large datasets in this country, the essential fodder for machine learning to work effectively. “New Zealand is no different to Israel though, Kiwi firms should innovate to provide tools and services for customers in other countries who do have truly big data sets. Israel has proven itself to be an effective AI partner to companies around the globe”.
If you're releasing great new features to customers every day, you're doing it right. If every developer spends their time learning to manage servers, you're doing it wrong.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT domain is evolving rapidly and a wide spectrum of New Zealand industries are looking at deploying IoT solutions in the next period ranging from health, aging and wellness to insurance, environmental management and agriculture. As a result, opportunities abound and we expect to see a continuation of an increasing trend in roles in this domain. While a Narrowband IoT standard has been ratified globally earlier this year, New Zealand is seeing a race reminiscent of the Beta/VHS video tape war of the 80s.
Competitive protocols are being rolled out across the nation such as LoRaWAN operated by Kotahi.Net and Sigfox from Kordia. These and other compelling initiatives underway in New Zealand. These will see an increase in the requirement for technically qualified and experienced professionals. Key areas include IoT network engineering and design, sensors, devices and particularly IoT ecosystem identity and security.
An Auckland-based company, IoT Ventures, has created a LoRaWAN-centric IoT ecosystem to roadmap opportunities and has several solutions currently in production trials. Matt Hector-Taylor, a director from the firm, says “Companies need assistance to identify and navigate IoT possibilities, particularly with regard to delivering real, end to end solutions and business value”.
Agile delivery, DevOps and CI/CD
The mainstreaming of Agile, Kanban and Scrum principles has led numerous organisations to adopt these processes, with more than 10 per cent of agile projects now in advertising and marketing, not software development. If this creep of agile across the organisation continues, it may be considered parsee by software development next year especially if a new approach becomes the process-du-jour.
In 2016, DevOps experienced a great intersection of tooling, from CI/CD to containers, that allowed true microservice deployment to work well in the enterprise. 2017 will be about efficient patterns and processes, that lets developers focus on delivering business value to customers. As Andrew Somervell, COO at Practiv states: “If you're releasing great new features to customers every day, you're doing it right. If every developer spends their time learning to manage servers, you're doing it wrong.
Code delivery is a solved problem, no need to reinvent the wheel, get someone with great patterns to help you out and you're away to the races.”
Expect salaries and rates for personnel in this area to level off next year as demand meets supply and businesses’ capability reach a more mature state.
Rapid, rich interface software development
Consequently, salaries and demand have skyrocketed more than 20 per cent. So much so that many have taken to the contracting market for the opportunity to make princely hourly rates and work on new and interesting software.
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