2021: The Tech Trends That Will Impact BusinessWe asked eight Interactive team members from different lines of the business to let us know their top trends to look out for during 2021.
What can we expect next?
There have been a lot of changes across every industry over the past 12 months. We’ve seen a major acceleration of change and disruption, so what can we expect next? To look ahead to what changes and innovations 2021 will bring, we asked eight Interactive team members from different lines of the business to pitch us their tech trend predictions.
The Resurgence of ‘Hybrid’
Public Cloud General Manager
My trend trends prediction for 2021 is the resurgence of the term “hybrid.” I think we’ll see a real evolution of the technology and the capabilities in this space, and I’ve chosen it off the back of some real innovation from some of the technical cloud giants in this space.
We saw Salesforce.com introduce a new deployment method for their SAS offering enabling it to go on-premises and enabling the hybrid use case. We saw AWS at Reinvent this year launch a plethora of technology that enables hybrid, really lowering the barriers to entry and enabling new applications and workloads to go into the public cloud or to enable the hybrid use case. The innovation in this space is significant.
Most organisations know that they will have multiple platforms or be multi-cloud to some degree. They know over the long term, public cloud will most likely be the primary use case or where most of their new innovations will be built. But increasingly, the legacy workloads for performance, in some cases for sovereignty and compliance, there are more options that enable those workloads to be put in other places than just the on-premises data centre. So, I feel like there’s a real proliferation of options to enterprises that have a number of apps in mixed modes in a multi-cloud configuration.
DCaaS – Data Centre as a Service
National Data Centre Manager
My trend prediction for 2021 is around a service called Data Centre as a Service (DCaaS). DCaaS is provided by IT specialist companies and it is an overlay to co-location services that are provided to an organisation in a Data Centre. It involves leveraging professionals that are highly experienced in managing co-location deployments to get the best for your business. I see three main areas where DCaaS can help.
The first is racks. The service provider could help you choose, provide and configure your racks. Not all racks are equal and it’s great to get an expert’s opinion on what kind of rack you’ve got, what power configuration you deploy into the rack, and rack elevation planning to get the optimal configuration for your kit. I believe using experience to install equipment in a rack perfectly and in the least amount of time possible will help a business get up and running as quickly as possible. These experts can also help with cabling to optimise cooling and reduce risk for when you need to make changes to the cabling. The final part is around technical services. They can help you to operate and configure your equipment.
Australia's seeing unprecedented demand for co-location services and really seeing strong growth in that sector. That means businesses are going to need help to deploy those environments and having the right assistance is key.
I think this will affect anyone that’s interested in moving into a co-location data centre. So, someone who has three or four racks, right up to someone that has a hundred racks in a data centre could benefit from this service.
Chief Financial Officer
My prediction is around a real emphasis on process automation in the coming months and years. People have moved so quickly to new systems and haven’t really got their processes in place.
Once you start looking at those processes, you realise there’s lots of things you can automate and there’s more capability available to do that leveraging the new technology tools.
The global pandemic has really been an accelerator. I think one thing that we’ve learned going through our own process of transitioning systems, through our ERP system at the moment and CRM and all those sorts of things, is that it’s one thing to adopt the technology, it’s another thing to have the processes documented so that you can use it.
One of the things we realised that many of the issues that we wanted to address by moving systems were actually our own process issues. They weren’t necessarily to do with the technology. Although the technology is far more enabling in terms of being able to generate insights about our processes and the continuous improvement process. It just provides an additional layer of visibility and having that visibility and those insights allows you to act on them.
I also think last year showed that people are much more open to change. People will adapt really quickly when they have to. I think, like us, many other companies will try and capitalise on that going forward and keep that momentum going because it’s been a real eye-opener.
High Availability and Compliant Serviced Office
Director of Data Centres & Business Continuity
The trend prediction that I selected is High Availability and Compliant Serviced Office. I think COVID has been a tremendous catalyst for customers to think differently about their Business Continuity plan.
Going into 2020, ‘pandemic’ was number 23 on risks perceived by businesses globally and it is now the number one most prevalent risk for businesses. That changes the way people think about their business continuity.
It’s no longer about an incident and recovery, there’s also an element of preventative and risk mitigation. We have seen customers are taking managed offices in suburban locations in which Interactive’s BC facilities have historically lived. They are taking those spaces pre-emptively so they can split key staff across several areas and locations.
Over time things change. You had times when people thought centralising all their staff to one location was the right thing and then something like the pandemic comes along and it makes a lot more sense to be diversified across several locations.
We had up to 10 customers, large financial institutions, making use of our facilities over the last nine months. A lot of their staff have become very comfortable in those facilities. They found the other benefits of fringe locations too, like parking, so their staff avoided using public transport and low rise building meant fewer choke points at lifts which helps with social distancing.
Scrutiny and Operationalisation of Business Agility
Head of Digital
How quickly a business can respond to an opportunity or threat has always been a key attribute of superior performance. Agile training is not a magic wand that suddenly make an operation responsive or resilient when faced with the need to react to unexpected incidents.
Everyone has been tested this past year and not everyone passed. I see businesses not only having to face some uncomfortable truths about their own operations but placing increased emphasis on the responsiveness and service-orientation of their partnerships.
Were they there for them in the moment that mattered? Do they need to add partners to their mix to provide scale for their operations or get access to specialists? An in-house solution may offer more control but with that comes the burden of cultivating a culture and operational model that is agile in mind-set and response. I expect to see more businesses investing in ‘how’ they work (process, platforms, culture) but also revisiting their partner ecosystem in response.
The Evolution of the Support Model
Field Services Manager – Hardware Maintenance
My prediction is a move away from that traditional, very reactive break/fix model into a more customer-oriented and very proactive outcomes-based support model.
The path from that traditional break/fix to outcome-based is a continuum. There is a number of jumps that need to happen to get through. We start with break/fix, we move to preventative, onto proactive, then predictive, and finally to that full outcomes-based model.
I think moving to that outcomes-based model is all about helping customers to get to where they want to be and to understand what is coming across multiple horizons. Implementing the right technology and having real-time visibility is key because, without accurate and actionable data, you cannot then deliver the results back to your customer.
The reality is, if you do this well, you are so sticky with your customer because you own their engagement from the hardware through application software, the analytics, the reports. I think that’s really powerful.
High Density Data Centres
Business Development Manager – Data Centre & Business Continuity
Over the years in the data centre industry, we have heard discussions about high density racks. We normally define a high-density rack as something over 7kW. For years, we have had predictions of 20kW racks, and we actually built facilities to support that power load, but it didn’t happen.
What is happening now is we are seeing real high-density racks. We currently run racks at 20 kW and now we are deploying racks at 30kW, and the densities are actually increasing past that.
This has been driven by industries like finance, computer-generated graphics, crypto and research functions. That is where the demand is coming from. What is interesting is most of them are designed, in particular in the Australian market, to only support up to 7kW per rack but the demand is now coming from particular industries for 20kW per rack.
I see it becoming a trend because chip performance is increasing, consuming more power, and generating more heat. Servers are also getting smaller so you can physically get more servers into a rack. A typical server room at a customer site used to be 20 racks but we are now seeing that coming down to significantly fewer racks but with a much higher power density.
Maturing View of Privacy
Public Cloud Solutions Architect
My prediction is that consumers and businesses are going to become increasingly aware of privacy and all of the related methods around that. People are becoming more informed about the value of their data and how it’s handled.
I think if consumers or companies see businesses acting in unethical or irresponsible ways with their data, they’re going to vote with their feet and walk away from them. It’s key because everyone is going to become very conscious of their data and to make sure that it is being treated in line with both regulatory and ethical obligations.
There have been a couple of things happening over the last few years that have really brought it into the spotlight. There’s been a bunch of high-profile data leaks across both cloud and on-premise, and even physical data breaches. There’s also more focus from regulators. They have become more aware of data privacy and as the technological understanding of government’s regulators uplifts, they have started to talk about and regulate it more.