2021: The year of cloud, customer experience and open source

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2021: The year of cloud, customer experience and open source
Open source is everywhere. It’s become part of the fabric of the modern developer, but it also comes with its challenges.
Photo by Muhd Asyraaf on Unsplash

2020 was the year that proved that CIOs and CTOs deserved a more prominent seat at the boardroom table.

As a result, 2021 will be the year that innovation and digital prowess driven by agile systems and processes will become more mainstream.

A holistic approach to SaaS applications

The digital muscle that businesses have built to survive and thrive during the pandemic has set a solid foundation to help accelerate digital transformation initiatives in 2021.

COVID forced businesses to pivot in the moment. Businesses needed to rapidly improve access to SaaS platforms which meant that migration projects that would normally take months had to be expedited at unprecedented speeds. This digital resilience has proved that businesses across any industry can successfully undergo digital transformations by trading in outdated legacy systems for cloud infrastructure and SaaS applications at speed, and I believe that we’re going to see a lot of these projects continue to gain momentum in 2021.

Cloud and the total customer experience

While the migration of workloads to the public cloud may have been viewed by some as a choice or an aspirational goal pre COVID, it’s now clear that it will become the norm. According to McKinsey, COVID-19 has intensified the need for the cloud as an enabler of increasingly critical e-commerce, remote sales, and flexible cost structures. Businesses that laid the foundations for cloud adoption in 2020 will be able to accelerate their digital initiatives in 2021. 

However, the cloud alone isn’t enough to meet the high expectations of your customers. Cloud gives businesses scale, resiliency, availability and geographic reach, but what it doesn’t provide is an end-to-end view of how they delight customers. To provide a compelling digital experience, businesses cannot observe their architecture, APIs and front-end in silos. They need to have a total mastery of the end-to-end experience with clear visibility into their entire stack. If the business has a disjointed view, then they don't know what's happening to their customers.

Applied Intelligence and the augmented SRE

Because the world has shifted their spending online, customer expectations have never been higher. Businesses will need to fight aggressively to keep every customer as the competition is only a click away. However, with thousands of microservices, hundreds of releases per day, and hundreds of thousands of containers, there’s bound to be errors that slip between the cracks – the human eye simply can’t cope with that level of complexity. This is where Applied Intelligence comes in to help augment site reliability teams to make sense of highly complex architectures. AI is not just a nice to have when it comes to proactive detection and incident intelligence, it’s about businesses equipping SRE teams with the tools they need to do their job effectively.

Open source, observability and open standards 

Open source is everywhere. It’s become part of the fabric of the modern developer, but it also comes with its challenges. While employing the latest open source tech is fantastic for developer morale, CTOs often find themselves with a zoo of open source tools, design patterns and architectures, and are left wondering how they can bring some standardisation, efficiency, and consistency into the mix. With a robust observability strategy, engineering teams can use open source with confidence as they have clear visibility across all their tools while maintaining the freedom to move data as they please. 

Related: Why cutting your customer experience spend could sabotage your chances of a quick recovery from the COVID downturn
Related: How chatbots are making us rethink customer experience in a Covid world
Related: Five trends driving customer experience maturity

In addition, a move toward open standards will bring rigour around practices due to it’s templated approach. I see the standards element of the open world as something that’s really important as it improves information transfer and usage, increases innovation through the ability to provide constructive feedback, and facilitates broader adoption by eliminating costs associated with obtaining the standard.

The Observability of Things

The Observability of Things is about extending the reach of what we’re observing to get a 360 degree view of our operations. This gives organisations the ability to instrument everything from a petrol pump to a point of sale, to gain a holistic, real-time view of how their business is performing from a technical perspective. 

We’ve seen this work exceptionally well in construction. One of our Japanese customers, Komatsu, has utilised this level of observability to optimise its smart construction sites. Because all their devices and technology are so connected, Komatsu are able to instrument everything from their digital performance, customer experience, and critical business data end-to-end to achieve a much broader view of the end user experience. This has translated into shorter project timelines and a great end user experience. 

This level of measurement and visibility provides invaluable benefits for businesses, and I think we’ll see this come to the fore in 2021.

Jill Macmurchy is Vice President of Customer Solution, APJ at New Relic

Related: Technology trends for 2021

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