This content is part of the Essential Guide: Multipronged digital customer experience strategy enriches CX

Digital user experience a big CIO goal in 2019

In 2019, CIOs should expect to play a major role in delivering a top-notch digital user experience -- for customers, employees and for the sake of the company brand.

CIOs face a variety of new IT challenges and opportunities in 2019. Leading industry analysts expect to see a greater shift to the cloud, increased focus on digital user experience, and the adoption of better code management practices from development teams to IT infrastructure. Connected to all these trends is the continuing adoption of AI in the enterprise and the need for better practices for using data science.

Language interface becomes key part of the digital user experience

WILLIAM MEISEL, president, TMA Associates

Today it's obvious that a company needs an effective website; in fact, it's hard to remember when websites were not accepted practice. A similar trend is in its early stages -- every company will need a branded digital assistant that communicates in human language. The company's digital assistant will be available through multiple channels such as mobile phones, and via the commercial personal assistants (e.g., Alexa "skills").

As the voice interface becomes an expected part of the digital user experience, CIOs will have to take responsibility for supporting this connection to customers. Similarly, the efficiency of most companies will be impacted by employee-facing digital assistants that help [workers] connect with enterprise software and with human resources. This trend will be driven by constant improvements in natural language understanding technology, in turn driven by continually increasing computer processing power.

In preparing for this for this major trend, CIOs will have to come up with a digital assistant strategy.

William Meisel is president at TMA Associates William Meisel
  • Do they want to depend on outside companies and cloud services entirely, or do they want to embed some of the core capabilities of digital assistants in company computer systems?
  • What does supporting the trend mean in terms of hiring appropriate talent?
  • Most immediately, what are the key initial steps in this direction?

One key task will be building a supporting structure for digital assistant technology that can be updated quickly as products or services evolve.

Move to multi-cloud can't come at expense of 'friendly' digital user experience

JIM MERCER, research director, IDC

In 2019, you will need to develop a multi-cloud strategy that exploits the benefits of cloud without jeopardizing critical IP. Replatforming to cloud platforms will likely include multiple cloud providers with different hosting scenarios.

Despite any infrastructure shifts, your customers will continue to expect a strong digital user experience.
Jim Mercerresearch director, IDC

Despite any infrastructure shifts, your customers will continue to expect a strong digital user experience. Many IT organizations have created a new role called the head of delivery. This role will have responsibility and accountability for all delivery and service management functions ensuring a personal and front-end-friendly user experience. Consumers will not tolerate a poor digital user experience. So, CIOs need to ensure that their team cultures are digitally product-focused and obsessively listening to the voice of the customer.

Jim Mercer is research director in the DevOps solutions research practice at IDC. Jim Mercer

CIO's will need to continue improving the pace in which value is delivered to their customers. New advances in low-code/no-code should be explored to see how IT teams can use these technologies to improve development speed and make application development accessible to a larger pool of talent. IT organizations need to continue to optimize their DevOps processes and aggressively shift security and compliance to the left-hand side of the delivery pipeline. As organizations use more open source software and share APIs, the susceptible security attack-surface continues to expand. In 2019, there will be a renewed focus on cybersecurity and an embracing of zero-trust security models that assumes the firewall has already been compromised and lateral movement within the corporate network needs to be properly verified.

Focus on employee perception of IT

CLIFFORD HOLLIDAY, telecom analyst, Information Gatekeepers and co-author of At Your Service – The Faces of Service.

CIOs have three sets of clients -- their company and its shareholders, their IT employees, and their end users. CIOs and IT departments have traditionally been attuned to the needs of the company or shareholders and to IT employees. IT departments have striven to achieve greater process and computing efficiencies, thus achieving better results for the enterprise. They are good at improving the skills of IT employees by providing training and other opportunities to grow their roles in the company.

The important job of providing service to third client -- the end user -- gets short shrift in many cases.

Clifford Holliday is a telecom analyst and writer at Information Gatekeepers Inc. Clifford Holliday

Too often the end user is either forgotten or is delivered technology change that isn't wanted and so-called improvements that make life harder.

In 2019, I suggest that CIOs focus on the end user's perception of the IT products. Only make improvements that (1) are carefully researched beforehand to understand the impact to the end user, (2) that provide increased utility from the viewpoint of the end-user client, and (3) whose benefits are clearly explained before they are made.

Up your security, cloud game; sort value from 'BS' in emerging tech

CHARLES KING, principal analyst, Pund-IT

Heading into 2019, I believe it's important for CIOs to pay particular attention to two IT areas that play major roles in their organizations: security and cloud computing. In the former case, any CIO not helping their organizations contend with the continuing growth in size and complexity of cyberthreats is guilty of negligence. In the latter, continuing shifts in cloud usage habits and cloud offerings make 2019 a great year to assess whether your company is getting the most out of cloud-related solutions.

Charles King is principal analyst and president of Pund-IT Inc. Charles King

There are also emerging business technologies that CIOs would do well to get a grip on, including blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality. Unsurprisingly, these areas can be rife with unsubstantiated claims -- so wise CIOs will dust off their BS detectors and study whether and how these technologies will impact and potentially impact their organizations. New technology offerings aren't all smoke and mirrors -- many actually do deliver what providers promise. Sorting out those claims is what makes a CIO's job both fascinating and challenging.

EaC will be critical for AI gains, serverless computing to the fore

TORSTEN VOLK, managing research director, Enterprise Management Associates

In 2019," everything as code" (EaC) will be the one most critical trend. EaC is the foundation for being successful in leveraging AI, machine learning, deep learning and data analytics within DevOps. Defining AI/machine learning models -- including training data, performance metrics and compliance requirements -- as code is critical for continuously improving AI and making models available across teams.

Torsten Volk is managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates and a TechTarget expert contributor. Torsten Volk

In 2019, we will see more and more canned AI-models that can be picked up and used similarly to traditional code libraries. At the same time EaC will hand an advantage to data center infrastructure vendors with focus on codified server deployment and lifecycle management, ideally through a central control plane. Dell's OpenManage Enterprise framework and Cisco Intersight will be two of the dark horses to watch.

Serverless computing will be the other main trend for DevOps and IT Ops in 2019. Based on Kubernetes and Docker containers, serverless functions will become part of the release automation pipeline and provide a turbo boost for the development of truly distributed applications consisting of sets of loosely coupled microservices. In 2019, vendors will finally deliver hybrid serverless environments for enterprise customers to deploy microservices and their data plane in a purely policy-driven manner.

Include AI data scientists in app dev and operations

JAMES KOBIELUS, lead analyst, SiliconANGLE Wikibon

The chief trend that CIOs need to pay attention to in 2019 is the growing role of data scientists in enterprise application development and operations. That's because more enterprises have begun toincorporate AI into the heart of their most mission-critical application initiatives.

Data scientists are the chief developers for AI, and another key trend is that more of their work is being deployed into containerized cloud services.

James Kobielus is lead analyst for data science, deep learning and application development at SiliconANGLE Wikibon. James Kobielus

Supporting these trends is the deepening enterprise adoption of AI development practices and data scientist tooling that are aligned and integrate with their existing enterprise DevOps practices.

 What CIOs can do to prepare for these trends in 2019 and beyond is to:

  • Provide AI application and DevOps teams with a shared collaboration workbench for data preparation; statistical modeling; training; deployment; and refinement of models, code, APIs, containerized microservices and other development artifacts.
  • Ensure that your AI DevOps workflow supports continuous retraining of deployed AI models against fresh data over an application's life in order to ensure that AI-infused applications continue to do their designated tasks, such as recognizing faces, predicting events and inferring customer intents, with acceptable accuracy.
  • Manage AI DevOps workflows from a source control repository that serves as the hub for collaboration, versioning, reuse and sharing of all pipeline artifacts by all participants.

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