The year 2017 promises to be all about working smarter. Advancements in technologies—from cloud computing to artificial intelligence (AI)—have empowered enterprises and their employees to be more productive, accelerate core processes and deliver enhanced customer experiences, all while controlling costs. We expect three major shifts to change enterprise IT and ultimately the ways in which we work in the coming year.
Serverless Architectures Are Becoming the Norm
Enterprises have tested serverless architectures over the past 12 months, and as we enter 2017, we can expect these frameworks to become more mainstream. Although the transformation won’t happen overnight, as these architectures are difficult to retrofit for old systems, it has proven to be beneficial for a number of reasons. Serverless architecture, which allows cloud providers to manage the start and stop of virtual machines to meet application requests, have been revolutionary for enterprises by creating more scalable, flexible and cost-effective solutions for customers.
A major benefit driving the growth of serverless computing is cost efficiency. As opposed to traditional models where enterprises would pay a monthly fee for software, serverless architectures allow users to pay only for what they use in their applications. The concept of idle is obsolete. This insight into exactly what is being activated allows enterprises to better control their spending.
Although they provide more flexibility as far as options and cost, serverless architectures require users to lock into one vendor. As they continue to gain traction, we are seeing a leader emerge in Amazon Lambda. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is widely accepted as the leader in the cloud; according to Synergy Research Group, it’s more than twice the size of the next three public IaaS providers combined. And Lambda is leading in the serverless space. As Microsoft and Google build out their Azure and Google Cloud Functions, respectively, they’ll need to be aggressive to compete with Lambda. As the market advances, the one vendor model could change, making room for a few major players, so they’ll need to establish themselves as competitive to be considered.
Public Cloud Costs Will Level Off
Thanks to more pricing flexibility, public cloud costs will begin to level off. While there will be less direct discounting of services, choosing serverless could mean cost savings because the enterprise pays less for applications by being smart about how it uses them, instead of paying a fixed per-month cost that may be irrelevant to business operations.
For instance, an enterprise may choose Amazon’s new compute configurations that are more flexible, granular and right sized to software code. Large companies such as Major League Baseball and Coca-Cola are already tapping into serverless to meet the required scale without the overhead of running and managing a fleet of servers. Because more options are available, the onus is on businesses to use a combination of science and research to determine which combination will save the most over time and to work with technology vendors to meet its goals.
Collaboration Apps Will Receive AI-Powered Assistance
In looking at ways that enterprises are employing technologies to increase their business efficiencies and work smarter, it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in artificial intelligence (AI). More than just a buzz phrase, AI is inching its way into the workplace via powered assistance. Collaboration apps including email, file sharing and real-time chat will be augmented with AI-powered assistants—commonly called bots—that will help with small, repeatable decision making.
This momentum shows no signs of slowing. Given the potential to drastically increase workplace efficiencies, bots are of great interest to businesses. According to a recent Oracle survey, 80 percent of respondents said they are currently using or plan to use chat bots by 2020. In fact, a recent Business Insider Intelligence survey reported that more than half of U.S. users between the ages of 18 and 55 have used them.
Nearly half of that group also believes the fields that would benefit most from the use of chat bots are sales, marketing and customer service, as employing these inexpensive and wide-reaching technologies allows companies to engage with more customers.
For instance, if a query comes through via email, a prompt will pop up with relevant solutions based on existing information from previous documented communications; if multiple queries come in at once, the bot will prioritize on the basis of the request’s urgency.
Bots can also pick up where the conversation left off in office messenger services, including Slack and Microsoft’s Teams. For instance, if an employee is returning to the office from vacation or joining a message chain late, the bot will provide a summary of the conversation with action items and suggestions about potential next steps, even automatically scheduling meetings or calls.
In addition to assisting with correspondence, bots can provide insights into human-resources issues that HR professionals may overlook. They can pick up on sentiment patterns and flag anything from perpetually negative employees who threaten team morale to someone who may be likely to share sensitive information. As we look to 2017 and even further to 2018, powered assistance capabilities will continue to mature in a cycle; ultimately, with more users and the increased data they generate, the bots will become smarter and more effective.
The next 12 months will be filled with exciting advancements in the cloud that will enable vendors to provide for their customers in new ways. Not only will enterprises be able to use cloud computing to improve business operations at an unprecedented level, but with the emergence of serverless architecture and AI-powered assistance, they will be able to maximize efficiencies that will set the standard for years to come.
About the Author
Greg Arnette is founder and CTO of Sonian, Inc. Greg has been a messaging, collaboration, Internet and networking expert for over 15 years and has consulted for leading corporations on email-system management and administration. He has also worked with AWS infrastructure as a service since 2006, creating innovative software applications for an enterprise audience. Before Sonian, Greg was founder and CTO of IntelliReach Corporation, an SaaS email-governance service that was acquired by Infocrossing.