4 Key Trends that will influence Technical Decision Making

27 March 2022

For the last two years, CIOs and CTOs have been running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. Most have been asked the impossible and have executed impeccable feats to keep their businesses generating value through digital channels.

Now is a good time for reflection. To step back and take a look at the larger picture. What has been achieved and how the business will continue to grow through digital value creation opportunities.

Technical debt accrued during the pandemic

The factor that negatively impacts digital growth the most is technical debt. The intangible cost taken on by an enterprise due to a legacy or unsuitable technical stack. Forrester research revealed that 60% of European enterprises have more technical debt now than at the beginning of the pandemic. This is due to a combination of lack of planning and needed speed to adopt digital during the pandemic.

Paying back technical debt should be the top priority for CIOs and CTOs. Robust platforms unlock more opportunities to capitalise through technology on digital. Take a step back and reflect on your technical decisions taken so far: 

  • Is your technical stack ready for continuous growth?
  • Have you prepared APIs that can fuel other parts of the business independently?
  • Are your platforms up to date and connected?
  • Do you have golden data records to power business insights?

If not, then maybe now is the time to start addressing some of your technical debt before it stifles business growth.

Value creation through digital

For B2C brands, digital sales have been a one-way street for quite some time. Even Italian luxury brands, which before the pandemic had been avoiding digital commerce out of fear digital would not match the luxurious experience of the physical stores, had to concede. During the pandemic, with physical stores closed, they either had to start selling online or they risked no sales. The speed at which they had to move to digital was enough to make your head spin!

Most traditional services are moving online also or risk getting disrupted by technology. Think about digital banks, online degrees and distance learning, government services in health, education, and tax. Blockchain and other technologies that manage federated identities will have profound effects by making more services less dependant on human physical presence in the future. 

Furthermore, professional buyers of complex B2B systems are turning to digital purchase journeys, too. A recent Gartner survey reported 43% of overall professional buyers prefer to have a fully digital purchase journey without involving any sales representatives at all. 

That means the influence technology has on creating value increases exponentially. It also means technical decisions become super important because they can either enable or inhibit business growth. Exceptional customer experience cannot be delivered without a technical stack that is scalable, secure, integrated, connected that enables privacy.

Future of work 

Many of us moved into home offices during the pandemic which had a profound effect on how our businesses remained productive. We have shifted not just where and when we work but also how we work. 

The latest research shows that half of the workforce would rather retain their home office after the pandemic. Even for those who would like to return to the office eventually, most value greater flexibility on where, when, and how they work, favouring in essence a hybrid work model. CIOs and CTOs should examine whether the application stack supports remote work expectations. Also keep in mind that tools need to support organisational culture so technical decisions around productivity and communication tooling need to be aligned with HR, too.

Automation is catching up and lots of repetitive work or low skill work may be replaced by algorithms in the near future. Introducing automation should not be taken lightly as it can be a highly disruptive move that alienates the people who work in the business. Current ways of working should be respected and automation should be aimed at enabling humans and accelerating their capabilities, rather than replacing them. Furthermore, new regulation will eventually appear addressing some of the ethical issues introduced by automation, therefore increasing the need of monitoring new developments and eventually making regulatory compliance more complicated.

Systemic risks

According to Forrester, only one in three enterprises had a business continuity plan dealing with a pandemic. In the future, system risks will increase both in numbers and in frequency: Diseases, natural disasters, climate change, economic crises and uncertainty, and geopolitical tension. Business leaders, along with CIOs/CTOs, need to create plans that create more agile enterprises, preventing risks rather than dealing with their consequences.

Business flexibility and operational continuity is supported when technical stacks have three characteristics: Adaptability, resilience, and composability. Changing business needs, general market uncertainty, shrinking sales pipelines, and pressure from competition are all better dealt with when your technical stack is adaptable, resilient and composable. Based on Forrester, enterprises whose technical stack has even one of those characteristics are growing faster than competitors, with those having all three growing 3 times as fast.