20 of the top CIO and CTOs in a wide range of industries outline their top tips and trends for 2017.
Derived from our 5-minute CIO interviews during the year, here are 20 CIO tech predictions for 2017. These are based on the big trends and challenges that CIOs and CTOs see in their businesses, and how they plan to use IT to address them.
Monique Shivanandan, Aviva
The big challenge is customer expectation – today’s customers expect 24/7 availability, they expect to be able to do what they need to do easily on any device. They expect speed, responsive screens and they expect their data to be 100pc secure – you can’t meet those expectations without great IT.
Renaud Visage, Eventbrite
A key focus for us in the near future is preventing bots and scalpers from buying too much of an event’s inventory. Millions of euros are lost every year to middlemen who bring zero value to the industry and move inventory to secondary markets, forgoing legitimate revenue for artists and promoters.
The smart use of machine learning and real-time decision engines based on a variety of signals will make ticket scalping a non-issue in the next few years. We aim to become the technology leader in that space.
Stephen Reidy, Three
Trends and opportunities for Three include the digitisation of our business and how we interact with our customers, big data and how to monetise it, internet of things and 5G.
We are in a technology-led industry and so must always be looking to the future, whilst keeping the day-to-day operations stable and optimised for our customers.
John Hurley, Ryanair
I believe very strongly that we are now a platform with an airline attached. Fundamentally, flights are a commodity, so where else can we add to improve the customer’s experience?
As far as I am concerned, that’s all through technology. Make it easy; give people simple choices, where you are almost reading their minds and offer them things they want at the right time, at the right price and in the right place. That is all down to data.
We believe strongly that the travel experience of the future is all about taking the pain away.
With the old Ryanair, you arrived at the airport and if you didn’t have a boarding pass you got charged for a new one. That is gone and it is now on your mobile app that is on the smartphone in your hand.
Karen Forte, Allianz
Mobile, internet of things, telematics, usage-based covers, the regulatory environment and skills shortages – these comprise both the trends and the challenges. The future of the business is tightly coupled to technology and how we support our customers with trusted products and services that are customer-centric rather than company-centric. Ease of use and device independence are key for the consumer and we have solutions that support them. A slick claims service is that ‘moment of truth’ that customers value when they have a claim.
John Cronin, An Post
Big data is going to play a vital part in our future. Over the past number of years, the mail volumes have been in decline. In the last seven years, probably close to 30pc of our mail volumes have declined due to the advent of email and other electronic services. But that doesn’t mean An Post is in decline. Conversely, packages are on the rise thanks to consumers engaging in e-commerce. Our volume of parcels and packets has increased quite significantly over the last two years.
Chris Cochrane, BT Global Services
There are two trends that I would say are front and centre in every conversation with customers. The first one is the increase in cloud services. Spend on cloud in 2012 was $110bn and that will grow to over $210bn this year, that would be one big trend. That, combined with shadow IT, there is a big element there for the CIO to embrace that. It can be seen as an opportunity or threat. Whenever we have discussions with the best CIOs, they see it as an opportunity to come in, embrace it and lead it.
The second trend I would point to is the internet of things. By 2020, I’ve seen numbers ranging from 25bn to 50bn in terms of the numbers of internet-connected devices. The next four years offer almost unlimited opportunities for what you can get from that in terms of innovation, creativity and optimisation, but it also presents technical and security challenges.
Marko Javornik, Comtrade
Digital transformation is very real and this is happening. The internet of things and connected devices – cars are one of the most complex devices that you can ever connect – are leading to very different business models.
When you do Mobility as a Service (MaaS), you can generate a lot of data. We are convinced that the challenge of the future will be how to use this data in the correct way, using predictive analytics.
It is all about data-mining algorithms and so forth.
For us, we are focusing on MaaS because this is where we see the future.
Martin Fleming, Bank of Ireland
There are significant opportunities to deliver step change across large organisations at a greater pace via cloud offerings. Removing dependencies on legacy infrastructure could be quickly achieved through this model. This must be tempered with the challenges that are presented in terms of contractual, legal and compliance obligations. These have influenced the rate of take-up for cloud services. As sectors begin to come to terms with these challenges, standards have begun to emerge. Finance and the pharma sectors are now beginning to catch up and in some cases, pass out other sectors as these standards mature. I believe more will embrace these cloud offerings to leverage the opportunities they present.
Brian Lillie, Equinix
If you think about big data or specifically look at internet of things (IoT), these are truly the wind in our sail.
The IoT is the industrial internet which has expanded into the consumer world as well as B2B, enterprise-to-enterprise. There are enterprises building their own IoT platforms and the industrial internet is creating massive amounts of data. When you think about the connected car and the fact that Caterpillar and others are building these massive vehicles that are completely self-driving, I think IoT is as significant as cloud as a trend and we are only at the early innings.
David Pardoe, Hays
The data and data science world simply evolves – I see many examples of the challenges and issues and hype around data and technology that I saw in my first job back in the 1990s.
The biggest shift in recent years is firstly towards infrastructure that is not on-premises, and therefore does not have significant capital outlay.
Secondly, the evolution of open source tools and technologies also unlocks the ability to deliver great data science outputs with minimal capital outlay. Future evolution will be all about embracing the other challenges that these two shifts create – primarily skills and talent to utilise them effectively!
Cian Maher, Intellicom
Right now one of the challenges we, like all other telecoms and enterprise organisations are facing, is the constantly developing and growing focus on data protection and new legislation compliance, both in general terms and also those specific to key industry sectors such as finance and health.
The requirement for data storage has moved from six or 12 months several years ago to two, five or seven years of data retention being the standard now. In some cases, it is indefinite. While there are bulk storage solutions out there, the challenge is that customers want the storage in their country to comply with data protection rules and regulations, and also have it easily accessible.
John Walsh, Fujitsu Ireland
The biggest challenge is meeting the demands of the market in a timely manner while maintaining structure and discipline to deliver sustainable solutions. This is particularly challenging when you consider the very different needs of our clients across a broad scope of areas such as IoT, analytics, hybrid cloud, system integration, mobility and digital.
In order to meet these challenges, it is important to understand the customer’s environment and pressures, applying a good set of processes to boil down the needs as quickly as possible, and then apply the right technology. This solution will be underpinned by ongoing insight with regard to trends and scale, so as to avoid future architecture cul-de-sacs.
Barry Minnock, Musgrave
The big technology trends of social, mobile, cloud, and information impact all industries. We have technology initiatives to increase our impact in all of these areas.
In terms of social, we have significantly increased our activity on all major social media platforms and it is now a significant component of our marketing strategy.
Mobility is critically important for our employees, service providers and customers. An example of an investment in this area is our recent relaunch of our Musgrave Marketplace Online Store, which equips our customers with the ability to easily shop with us from any location and on any device. Customers can easily browse our range of more than 10,000 products via mobile, tablet or desktop.
Niall Kelly, Netwatch
As IT security risks increase with the proliferation of the IoT devices in the security space, we have to think outside the box and ensure that security is at the centre of everything we do.
Huge increases in volumes of data due to higher quality cameras, richer features list, faster communication speeds and customer expectation means that fast data storage will become an issue, and is one of our main focuses.
Gar Murphy, Cook Medical
IT in the medtech industry is at an exciting place right now. Addressing the increasing complexity of medical device enterprises and adhering to global standards, medical device regulations and directives is a constant challenge.
Awareness of trends in cybersecurity, data protection, big data and general enterprise architecture needs fundamental understanding and knowledge so they can be addressed successfully for the organisation. Embracing the Industry 4.0 revolution and exploring what it has to offer the medtech sector holds great potential for Cook Medical.
Enda Kyne, Royal College of Surgeons
The delivery of education is changing rapidly; from supporting online and blended learning, to the flipped classroom, personalised learning, simulation and adaptive learning, IT is pervasive throughout the design, delivery and assessment of these environments.
Students need the infrastructure, content, support and immediate feedback to allow each individual to learn at his or her own pace, as well as ensuring they are making the progress needed to qualify in their discipline. Mobile-first solutions that support this process are the leading drivers across the third-level sector globally at this time.
Sean Convery, Boylesports
The biggest challenge is the event-driven nature of the industry, with race meetings and large sporting events generating a lot of spiky load periodically and, in between times, the system is relatively quiet.
This, on top of our drive for online growth across multiple geographies and capacity management, is the key challenge. Key to addressing this at the right price point and right solution are the private and public cloud solutions and the scalability model that they deliver.
Karl Heery, Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics
In analytics, cloud adoption obviously is front and centre for many. Being able to exploit the elasticity of cloud at pay-as-you go pricing is critical in a business where the velocity, variety, veracity and volume of big data is ever-increasing, and machine-learning models grow in complexity and computational demand.
We see another challenge in emerging successful analytics businesses – that is, how does one simplify the path-to-live process for data science workloads written in a range of languages? We use Docker and related frameworks to configure lightweight portable environments which will slipstream into production for scale and operational support.
David Wall, Tallaght Hospital
Cybersecurity and ransomware attacks are on the increase. Talking to colleagues, several have suffered from attacks over the last year. In America, particularly, hospitals and healthcare organisations have had to pay to get files unlocked. So health informatics needs to focus on what it is good at, and partner with expert companies that can ensure our environment is secure and protected.
As hospitals become more reliant on ICT for the delivery of service business continuity, disaster recovery is an area for improvement. Investment in this area needs to improve as to ensure services are maintained on a 24/7/365 basis.