2020 Predictions: Agile - Devops - SRE, Low-code, and AI

2020 Predictions by Isaac Sacolick
It's been several years since I blogged on new year predictions. My last one published in 2017 covered blockchain (just getting started), AI (breakthroughs coming), talent gaps (growing challenge), and the importance of social business (even more critical).

In some ways, little has changed in three years, and yet so much has changed. My point is that grandiose predictions make great headlines and are fun to read, but are too ambitious for how fast the majority of industries, companies, and people change.

So last night, I came up with my predictions. These are more insights into how digital transformation has impacted multiple industries and what may happen in 2020.

1. Enterprises must demonstrate AI and Machine Learning Wins

2020 AI
VCs were pouring money into AI startups in 2019, with 965 AI-related companies in the U.S. raising $13.5B in funding through Q3/2019. IoT adoption continues to grow, and Gartner's updated prediction is that there will be 5.81B IoT endpoints in 2020.

This bookends two growth curves in the emerging technology space with many enterprises rolling out production IoT use cases. Still, achievements in AI are primarily coming from startups and large tech companies. In the Harvey Nash / KPMG 2019 CIO Survey, only 4% of respondents state that they had large-scale AI and machine learning rollouts.

Prediction: More non-tech enterprises will need success in AI and ML for money to continue pouring into AI startups. CIOs will have to go from pilots/POCs to production use cases demonstrating business value. If 2020 AI headlines are only about startups and tech companies, then I fear there will be an AI investment and interest slowdown - but not an AI winter as some are fearing.

Recent posts on AI10 Questions before starting a Machine Learning POC and CIOs remain cautious on AI experiments and investments

2. IT must Recalibrate Agile, DevOps, and SRE Programs

2020 Agile, DevOps, SRE
Ask IT leaders if they are an agile, DevOps, or SRE shop, and you're likely to get multiple answers. The larger the IT organization and the more proprietary applications being developed for the cloud, the more likely all three programs are being matured. Here are some data points:

  • According to the 13th annual State of Agile Report, while 97% of organizations are practicing agile, only 61% have been doing so for three or more years, and 48% report that less than half their teams are practicing agile.
  • From the 2019 State of DevOps Report, 20% of organizations are now elite performers compared to only 7% in 2018.
  • In the 2019 SRE Report. 64% report that the SRE role has been in existence for three years or less, 
Prediction: I expect adoption numbers to continue to rise, but many CIOs will struggle to get the expected results from these programs. They can't operate in silos, and adding DevOps and SRE skills to agile teams is not the optimal answer for smaller/medium IT organizations that can't find the necessary skill sets. CIOs that define their agile cultures, consider business-tech-data alignment, and establish a holistic organizational agile/DevOps/SRE approach will see greater success.

Recent posts on agile, DevOps, and SRE: Scaling agile is not the answer, Maturing agile cultures and investing in agile planning is needed by more organizations. Enterprises should continue to invest in DevOps automation, especially CI/CD and IaC, but that doesn't mean that agile teams should drive continuous deployments everywhere. And for SREs to be successful, they'll need better collaboration and partnerships with the agile development teams.

3. Low-code platform battleground: Capabilities, impacts, and customers

2020 Low-Code
Forrester predicts that low-code platform usage by developers will grow from 37% as measured in their 2019 survey to over 50% by mid-2020. Another report estimates the adoption at 41%. A third survey that targeted senior business and IT leaders puts low-code adoption at 84%.

So what accounts for the gap between the ~40% and the 84%? It depends on who you ask and what you consider low-code.

  • Many developers - as many as 60% still view low-code platforms as competitive to their interest in developing applications in programming languages like Javascript, Java, .Net, etc. They will underestimate adoption, partially because their view centers around application development and not other low-code use cases.
  • Are self-service BI platforms like Tableau and Power-BI low-code? The answer is yes, and both business and IT leaders see it that way. 
  • Are data integration, real-time data streaming, and IoT platforms low-code? That depends on how they are architected and the paradigms used to develop the integrations.   
  • Emerging platforms like Vantiq (real-time event-driven architectures) and Infoworks (enterprise data operations and orchestration) are bringing low/no-code paradigms to larger-scale challenges.

Prediction: Whether you call it low-code, no-code, citizen-development, citizen data-science, or something else, SMB through enterprises need these tools to accelerate new capabilities, enable low-impact enhancements, and reduce support costs. Platform vendors need to help businesses do more with data and technology without building everything natively, owning the cloud infrastructure, and taking responsibility for related DevOps practices. Smart CIOs are going to place some low-code bets, and the vendors selling these platforms will need to be a lot better at selling their impacts and demonstrating their productivity and quality capabilities. 

Recent posts on low-code:  Why developer's shouldn't dismiss low-code platforms, and are you developing too much code?

What do you think?

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.