If there’s one thing that can be accurately predicted in tech, it’s that all that glitters will soon be old. The art of reading the technology ‘tea leaves’ lies in predicting which shiny new things will be relegated to Wayback Machine fodder and which will cement their place in the annals of innovation history.
While we don’t have a crystal ball here at Luminary, we do have a reasonable track record in calling out which tech trends are likely to be around for the long haul. The last time we had a crack at this game was back in 2018.
A lot has changed since then.
We’ve seen a seismic shift in the way we work and live, thanks to a global pandemic. We’ve had a collective awakening around privacy and security. And we’ve seen an explosion in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based services. All of these trends have had an impact on the way we deliver our services and the guidance we offer clients. And all of them have given rise to their own proliferation of buzzwords.
Here, we’ve brought our brightest technology minds together to determine which tech buzzwords are worth taking the time to wrap your grey matter around.
As a digital agency, one of the key changes we’ve seen over the last few years has been a move away from traditional monolithic DXPs (Digital Experience Platforms) towards ‘headless’ content management systems that allow you to deliver content across multiple channels such as mobile apps and IoT devices. Unlike traditional DXPs, which offer a range of in-built digital marketing capabilities out-of-the-box, headless CMSs are purely designed to deliver content. The advantage of a headless CMS is that you have the flexibility to integrate it with best-of-breed digital marketing solutions (or ‘microservices’), such as an email marketing service like MailChimp, or a cloud-based search service like Algolia. In other words, a headless CMS allows you to create a ‘composable DXP’, or a DXP composed from your choice of microservices in combination with a headless CMS. The microservices are integrated via APIs, allowing you to craft a customised digital solution with the freedom to plug particular tools in and out of your tech stack as the need arises.
Closely related to the composable DXP is MACH architecture, a concept that is also experiencing a notable rise in popularity. ‘MACH’ is an acronym for:
- Microservices - Individual pieces of business functionality (like the digital marketing services referred to above) that are independently developed, deployed and managed
- API-first – integrations are typically performed using APIs rather than using orchestration or code-based integrations
- Cloud-native – applications are not only deployed to the Cloud, they’re designed to take advantage of the Cloud – which provides benefits such as storage, hosting, scaling and automatic updates
- Headless – the front-end user experience is decoupled from the back end, allowing for design freedom in creating the user interface and connecting to other channels and devices.
MACH architecture is essentially the essence of a composable DXP. As well as being an industry tech standard, MACH also relates to the MACH Alliance, a consortium of over 50 companies – comprising vendors, system integrators and enablers – formed to promote the approach. Vendors in the MACH Alliance include Contentful, Contentstack, Kontent.ai and Uniform. The MACH Alliance was founded in 2020 and has been described by Forrester as ‘The Coolest Tech in Town Club’.
No-code and low-code platforms are designed to streamline and democratise the software development process through the use of simple drag-and-drop creation tools. Both solutions have the capacity to reduce the cost and time generally required for software development. As the names suggest, low-code platforms allow people with some coding skills to create custom applications, while no-code platforms allow people with zero coding knowledge to create simple apps like business dashboards. Low-code is more suitable where an application is simple in nature but may have complexities that require the assistance of a developer. Low-code may also be used by developers to automate generic tasks, freeing up time to focus on more complex tasks.
Although no-code is more accessible for non-technical users, the tradeoff is that it doesn’t offer as much flexibility as low-code or traditional coding. This lack of flexibility limits your ability to customise and build on the platform in the future if/when your requirements become more complex – at which point you might need to consider replatforming. Security can also be a concern as you don’t have control of the code, leaving you subject to platform vulnerabilities. Examples of low-code platforms include Webflow and Microsoft PowerApps, while examples of no-code platforms include Bubble.io and Airtable.
While not an entirely new concept, the Zero Trust approach to cybersecurity has gained traction in light of the normalisation of remote work and continued migration to the Cloud. With workers suddenly connecting to networks from devices outside of their organisation’s IT control, remote work has not only brought a new level of workforce flexibility but also a new level of security risk.
The traditional ‘perimeter based’ approach to security works on the assumption that everything inside an organisation’s network should be implicitly trusted, using firewalls and network-based tools to validate users going in and out of the network. But with so many workers now accessing networks from external sources, this approach is no longer cutting it, and leaves an organisation seriously vulnerable to attack. By contrast, Zero Trust endeavours to minimise lateral access to systems and data. Key principles of the Zero Trust approach are strong authentication methods, network segmentation, and granular security controls – and an entire industry has been spawned to address these needs.
Also known as ‘surveillance economy’, the idea of surveillance capitalism was first popularised by Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’. The concept refers to the monetisation of personal data by corporations. Data is captured by monitoring people’s interactions with digital devices, websites and applications. It is most commonly used to facilitate targeted advertising and has been widely utilised by big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. The data may include search histories, social media posts, physical locations and keywords captured by microphones in smartphones and internet-enabled devices. The data is then packaged into products that predict future behaviour. While there have been some moves to curb the collection of non-consensual data, including Google’s phasing-out of third party cookies, surveillance capitalism remains big business. And with the proliferation of data-generating IoT devices like fitness trackers, it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
Quantum computing is an area of computer science that explores how the principles of quantum physics may lead to new ways of computing. In quantum computing, subatomic particles are used to create new ways of processing and storing information. Unlike a normal binary computer bit, which can be either a 0 or a 1, a quantum bit (or ‘qubit’) can exist in a multidimensional state.
It’s believed that quantum computing has the potential to completely transform computing as we know it, with the capacity to deliver computers capable of operating at a trillion times the rate of the fastest processors available today.
Quantum computing has the power to solve extremely complex problems, like curing diseases. However, the danger is that it could render current encryption practices redundant, with potentially catastrophic ramifications for businesses and global security. Although quantum computing is relatively nascent at this stage, governments around the world and companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM are currently pouring billions into developing this technology. Right now, where it will take us is largely in the realms of science fiction, but some are predicting that the fiction may become reality as early as the next decade.
And then there’s the hype… Web3
According to our panel of tech visionaries, one buzzword that isn’t worth getting excited too about at this point is Web3. Also known as Web 3.0, Web3 has been touted as a ‘new iteration’ of the internet. But whether it actually is a whole new frontier remains to be seen.
Definitions of Web3 vary, but are mainly based around blockchain technologies like cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the concept of decentralisation. While blockchain – in one form or another – is clearly here to stay, it’s the notion that it will revolutionise the web and provide a panacea for the perils of centralisation that has many people raising an eyebrow.
Currently, a few powerful players control the most widely used platforms and services on the internet. With Web3, the premise is that, as blockchain networks share supervision and decision-making responsibilities collectively, control and power will be more evenly distributed. In this decentralised blockchain-based utopia, it is envisioned that online services and platforms will be run equitably by democratic groups of developers, creators and users. However sceptics argue that the reality is a far cry from the promise, and that Web3 is rife with theft, privacy issues, and the immutable lure of power – and by extension, centralisation.
While it’s generally accepted that interactivity defined the shift from the ‘read-only’ Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, there seems to be far less consensus on whether the ‘decentralised web’ will be the defining feature of a new era for the internet.
What’s in the tea leaves for your organisation?
Jumping into new technology has the potential to pay enormous dividends if you do it right, but it can also be seriously risky business. A trusted advisor can be the difference between triumph and trainwreck. If you’re looking to take your digital strategy to the next level in 2023, we have a whole team of experts who live and breathe new technologies and would be happy to guide you on your digital transformation journey.
Image credit: Fractal Hassan, Unsplash
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