Between mega acquisitions, a flurry of IPOs, and rapidly evolving partnerships, 2018 was an eventful year for the tech industry as a whole. Looking ahead to 2019, I expect to see similar activity but done in the face of a volatile economy.
Here are my top 5 predictions for 2019:
1. More acquisitions in tech
With the degree of uncertainty in the economy, and the VCs preparing portfolio companies to weather the storm, I expect to see increased activity – not with as much hype and fanfare as in 2018 but anchored in established, profitable vendors scooping up faster growth companies that have burned down all their available capital.
In my mind, this is good for the market, just like it was back in the dot-com era – weeding out the bad ideas and amplifying those that are viable in the long run.
I also expect to see a slowdown in the Unicorn IPOs we’ve seen in the last couple of years, with more of the financing coming from private equity activity and corporate acquisition.
In the process management and automation market, I predict that the latest trend of consolidation will continue. We’re approaching a time of market consolidation and with that, we’re going to start to see the emergence of some significant full-stack providers. Acquisitions like MuleSoft by Salesforce, Mendix by Siemens, and Built.io by Software AG are all great examples of consolidation in the industry and we’ll see more of this in 2019.
2018 was a great year for Nintex on this front also, as we continued to broaden our offering with the acquisition of Nintex Promapp to enable our users to focus on the upfront and ongoing work of collaborative process mapping and management. The newest addition to our suite of capabilities has helped us set a broader strategic vision as a company, and you can expect to see more of the same in the new year.
2. RPA hype will continue, but the reality is starting to set in
2018 was the year that the industry became enamored with RPA, and the VC money started to follow at a rapid clip. No real surprise here, as the world is full of legacy and desktop-bound systems that aren’t going away in a hurry, and the screen scraping technology of old has found a new life by delivering rapid ROI in sectors like finance, insurance, and call centers.
I expect to see continued interest in the RPA space as we head into 2019, but we’re already seeing the classic signs of people viewing every problem as a nail when they’re holding a hammer. To that end, you’re seeing strategic alliances emerge between leading RPA and process automation providers as the industry works to ensure that the right tools are used for the right jobs.
3. Process excellence becomes a priority
To survive in tough times, you either have to do something different from your competition or do the same thing, far better. Doing something different takes work, but to improve, you must start by understanding what it is you do currently. Most organizations continue to focus on their high level, strategic activities, but the true value lies in understanding every process – from manufacturing widgets in the factory, to processing orders, to onboarding employees, to ordering fresh supplies of coffee for the office.
This is what we preach at Nintex because effective digital transformation isn’t just about the big-ticket items; it isn’t just a one-time project; it’s not a destination you arrive at, but rather, it is a lifelong pursuit of excellence.
Often, companies focus on this highly visible problem that they want to tackle and make that the cornerstone of their digital transformation story. The reality is that you and your team need to tackle every single problem, no matter how small it seems.
2019 will be the year organizations begin to realize this and understand that there is no single product out there to solve all their problems. They will seek a broad set of capabilities to tackle process mapping, management, and automation – with low- to no-code tools for application development.
Implementing these process tools and embracing advances in AI and machine learning will be a key recipe for achieving process excellence within your organization.
4. AI goes mainstream
2018 was a big year for AI. Mega-vendors like Microsoft, Google, IBM, Amazon, and Salesforce have made an internal effort to upscale their people, realizing that there aren’t enough people coming into the industry with the right skillset for AI.
In 2019, we’re going to see a lot more of this beyond just the mega-vendors. Other companies will realize the need to have a formal plan in place to train their staff to comprehend and consume AI capabilities.
The existing tools for AI are geared towards professional developers, but 2019 will be the year that AI goes mainstream. As more and more people try to figure out ways to put the power and understanding of AI in the hands of the everyday person, it will be more prevalent and accessible – in both audience and availability of integrated tools.
Look to low- and no-code vendors starting to take advantage of the enhancements made by major players in ways that are easy to understand and consume by the line of the business employee. Practical applications of AI will become so prevalent that I expect we won’t refer to the term ‘AI’ anymore.
5. Continued security challenges
We continued to see more and more challenges around security in 2018, and I predict this will continue next year.
With the frequency of ransomware attacks and data breaches lately, it’s clear that as an industry, we have some major work to do to get ahead of the bad guys.
In the last decade, we’ve gone from being reasonably conservative around security, data protection, and privacy. Now, society is more and more comfortable trading off privacy and control of identity for convenience. In my opinion, we’ve become too trusting of technology and the applications we use. I suspect 2019 will be the year people start to pull back from that and think twice.
It was probably Facebook that was responsible for people becoming comfortable sharing more information. I suspect it’s also going to be Facebook that will be responsible for everyone becoming uncomfortable sharing information and being more concerned with security risks.
2018 was a great year for Nintex and the larger tech industry, and we’re looking forward to an innovative, prosperous, and exciting 2019. We hope you all have a great new year!