Pieter Bensch, executive vice-president: Africa & Middle East at Sage, recommends that enterprises not be distracted by cool gadgets. The real technology innovation is happening in software architecture.
African Businesses should not be fooled into thinking that technology innovation in 2018 is just about connected cars, talking robots and smartphones with facial recognition. The real revolution is happening in new forms of software engineering that are bringing a range of cool apps, gadgets and services to life.
Here are four software trends to watch out for this year.
The Rise of the Application Cloud
Cloud computing has been a game-changer for businesses of all sizes over the past decade. This year, we will see the market for cloud platforms compete on customer benefits rather than technology capability. Few cloud platforms are pure technology platforms and could be more accurately described as application ecosystems delivering app-centric user experiences.
The Apple iPhone pioneered this concept of an application cloud with the App Store, and Salesforce adopted it for business with its Lightning com platform (aka Force.com) and AppExchange. Microsoft is taking Office 365 and elements of Azure in a similar direction, while Facebook and Google remain customer experience platform providers to watch.
The implication of this shift in 2018 is that enterprises in Africa should not only consider the technical merits of their cloud providers and applications – they should also evaluate how their platform choices will give them access to customers, markets and ecosystems of value-added apps and services.
De-productisation through microservices and ‘API-fication’
Mass migration towards application programming interfaces (APIs) and microservices is shifting the software world to move away from the monolithic architectures of the past.
API-fication is an architectural approach that enables the creation of interfaces between two software products to allow users to access additional features or data. Microservices is an architectural approach that revolves around breaking an application down into a set of independent services that are developed, deployed, and maintained separately.
This is the vision and long-term strategy behind Sage Business Cloud, a business platform and service ecosystem for companies of all sizes, across a range of verticals. In the long-run, technology will abandon the notion of a product completely and switch to an architecture that is made up entirely of microservices, similar to how Amazon originally envisaged reassembling its Amazon.com e-commerce application with Amazon Web Services building blocks.
Infrastructure shifts to ‘serverless’ event-driven programming models
Microservices require infrastructure to operate in a layer typically referred to as ‘platform as a service’ (PaaS). 2018 will see a shift in PaaS to ‘serverless’ environments, a technology in which the cloud provider dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources. These serverless, event-driven programming models are set to revolutionise software architecture.
Serverless applications do not require the provisioning, scaling, and management of any servers, and pricing is based on the processing consumed rather than on capacity provisioned. Amazon Lambda and Microsoft Azure Functions are two leading examples of this technology.
Rules of software distribution being rewritten
In the past, computer distributors played a vital role in pushing discrete technology building blocks like operating systems and productivity software into the market. In the future, the seams between customer solution and platform will be less recognisable, and the independent software vendor will assume a greater share of the value chain. For example, Office 365 is now fully embedded in some Sage Business Cloud solutions.
Trends making life easier for businesses
These four trends are making technology smarter, more connected and of greater value to the end-user. At Sage, that helps us fulfil our mission to make life easier for our customers, whether you are a small business starting-out or you are going global and exporting across the world. And when we talk about invisible accounting, taking advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning and neuro-linguistic programming — it is the innovation in software architecture and application programming that is making it all possible.