Citrix unpacks 8 key trends for its South African business outlook of 2020

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Earlier today Citrix held a media roundtable focused on its key trends outlook for 2020. The firm gathered information and insights from its local network of customers and partners to identify eight key trends that will likely shape many business decisions in the coming year.

Unpacking said trends was Brendan McAvery, the regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa at Citrix.

“2019 was a significant year for the technology sector. It brought rise to numerous technological innovations and new business models that have changed the face of global economies,” he explained.

“2020 promises even better technology. We’re on the edge of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), where the speed of technology and the way it impacts business is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and simply has no historical precedent,” adds McAvery.

As for the trends that Citrix believes will grow in 2020, the firm has outlined the following.

People-centric computing

In 2020, our focus will shift towards people-centric computing, says McAvery. This as the balance between the needs of employees and the requirements of IT will finally be met in his view.

“Using analytics to fully understand the needs of employees, and tailor the workspace, the next generation workspaces will cater for unique individual requirements,” the regional director points out.

“The people-centric computing approach will get technology out of the way, and focus on how an individual wants to work and adapt to that individual’s preference throughout the span of their employment,” he adds.

Employee experience

The next trend focuses on employees, and in particular how their needs will determine many of the decisions made by businesses in terms of flexibility in the workplace.

“Organisations have in the past spent a considerable amount of financial and human resources to focus on the customer experience. They built digital platforms to engage with customers and used them to retain customers, thus improving their customer Net Promoter Score – an index measuring customers’ willingness to recommend a product or service to others,” he highlights.

“And yet, in 2020, we’re going to see a shift from the customer experience to the employee experience. From our engagement with our global customers, Citrix has learned that many of them find that their customers’ experience is better than that of their own employees,” explains McAvery.

AI and bots

When it comes to artificial intelligence, Citrix is of the opinion that fears surrounding the technology and its impact on jobs is misplaced. Instead the firm sees this trend shift more to the use of AI to augment what employees are able to do, rather than replacing them.

“In 2020, AI will continue to grow, but in the context of narrow AI, and the context of machine learning. The real question is not how many jobs will be replaced by 2020, but how many new opportunities are created, how much more innovation will we get from our staff when we can use the machines to our advantage,” McAvery posits.

“If we can let the bots take the menial tasks, this allows us to free up human capital. It frees you up from mundane things that tie up many hours in your work week,” he adds.

Hybrid Cloud – Multi Cloud

2020 will be the year that hybrid cloud is embraced by most organisations in the technology industry, offering a mix of on-premise and cloud-based solutions depending on what the workload need may be.

“The reality is that hybrid cloud, probably even in your own organisations, is the model today. Because what experience tells us, is that we deploy the right tools to the right cloud at the right time and for the right reasons,” according to the regional director.

“Not every hybrid cloud requires low level network connectivity, or VPN connectivity between multiple points. Every time you acquire a new SaaS application, you’re adding another cloud to your environment. After all, the world is by definition, hybrid cloud,” he says.

Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS)

Here the firm notes that it has seen an increase in the adoption of XaaS technologies replacing existing on-premises applications. Interestingly though, Citrix has also seen a high number of applications still being developed by in-house teams, but in a much different way.

“The monolithic architectures of applications are a thing of the past, and have given way to micro-service applications. These of course require brand new development approaches and approaches to operations. The big cloud vendors are slowly creeping into the corporate data centre, bringing the promises of delivering ‘everything as a service’ for the new world that we’re rapidly entering,” McAvery adds.

“In the local context, the XaaS model is beneficial to SMEs especially in the current economic climate. Having and maintaining hardware and software in-house, is just not economically viable for small businesses. However, through XaaS technologies, businesses are able to have access to the wide range of advanced technologies worldwide,” he continues.

The gig economy

Utilising the oft-used example of Uber, the next trends focuses on the way that employees want to do business.

In McAvery’s view the workforce of today is adopting an any-time any-location, any-device style of work.

“An emergent market, the gig economy has redefined the concept of work, and many of the people in these new work set-ups may never appear in physical offices,” he says.

“According to a 2019 Citrix report – The potential economic impacts of a flexible working culture – 65 % of respondents working part time said they would be inclined to work more hours if they could work remotely. The question is, how do we prepare for the shift presented by the gig economy? And how do we provide IT services to people that may never be met in person?,” ponders McAvery.

Evolution of the CIO

When to comes to the C-Suite level of an organisation, no role has likely changed more in the past decade than the CIO, especially as more aspects of the business have come under their purview.

“For many years, we’ve had CIOs that operated in control of the ‘Department of No’. The new CIO will wear the hat of an innovation officer, much more than an information officer,” in McAvery’s view.

“They will be a change agent at the very core, helping to remove those existing final barriers between IT and the business. They will focus primarily on the ‘why’ of technology, rather than getting bogged down in the ‘how’,” he adds.

The end of digital transformation?

The final trend is a rather interesting one, and a topic of conversation we’ve covered at length in recent years. Despite all this fervour surrounding the need to digitally transform your business, a lack of understanding as to what that entails has lead to many failures, according to Citrix.

As such more businesses will be taking a measured approach to transformation, and not pegging the future of their business on it.

“Three-quarters of digital transformations fail to generate returns that exceed the original investment, and of those that fail, 70% are due to a lack of user adoption and behavioural change. It’s time to separate the reality from the hype,” says McAvery.

“We’ve all heard how the promise of digital transformation will change user experience across the globe. Yet, when we engage with our customers it’s very rare that we hear a story about how technology will enable their new business models in the next three to five years,” he concludes.

[Image – Photo by Tomasz Frankowski on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.