The most important IT trends for Swiss SMEs in 2023
Which IT technologies and trends should Swiss SMEs rely on? And which tools should be reviewed? The bbv Technica Radar provides an answer. It visualizes the IT and developer trends specifically for Switzerland.
In the fast-paced IT world, it is almost impossible for IT decision-makers and developers to keep track of all relevant or new technologies and trends. That’s why international market research and consulting companies such as Gartner and ThoughtWorks use trend barometers to map global tech developments.
“However, these global trend barometers are not always equally relevant for Swiss SMEs. To do justice to the Swiss market, we have developed the Technica Radar,” says Marco Ravicini. He, Axel Hohnberg and Patrick Labud are members of the CTO Board of bbv Software Services AG and are responsible for the development and creation of the bbv Technica Radar.
The Technica Radar compiles the latest developments in IT, reflects expert opinions and maps studies and recommendations from market research companies or the federal government.
Its clear focus on the Swiss market and the needs of SMEs set the Technica Radar apart from other, international trend barometers.
These ten topics should be on the CTO agenda in 2023
Edge computing is still on the rise because of its connection with IoT and cloud computing. “This shows the typical IT evolution: big topics generate and in turn cause new big topics,” says Patrick Labud. In addition, edge is becoming increasingly important in connection with AI and data science.
Because edge components are neuralgic points, they are suitable in complex systems for optimizing data volumes or complying with data protection. “For example, we have developed an edge data protection solution for clinical algorithms, with which only the results are forwarded in gene analyses, but not the gene indicators,” says Labud.
Thanks to this filter at the edge of the network, no sensitive or protectable information can be reconstructed on the receiving end.
The API-first approaches of public clouds can automate the creation and modification of infrastructure. In the infrastructure-as-code approach, the complete infrastructure is modeled as code and then created through tooling. In this way, new infrastructures can be created or existing ones can be updated and adapted to new requirements as part of a continuous deployment.
IaC allows the infrastructure, which tends to become more complicated, to always be under control. It empowers teams to deploy their public cloud infrastructure faster and with less risk. IaC requires a certain amount of effort, but it can pay for itself when used in multiple environments such as development, testing and production.
Looking ahead, the emerging Distributed Cloud trend addresses, among other things, the challenges of maintaining distributed, more complicated infrastructures.
Cyber threats are becoming more complex and require new protective measures. “The motto ‘Come on, let’s do it this way’ won’t get you very far today,” says Patrick Labud. With security engineering, security is already defined when software is programmed.
The principle of “security by design” states that security should be regarded as a quality attribute of software. Patrick Labud is convinced that security engineering is an investment that pays off: “Preventive attention to secure systems is cheaper than plugging gaps afterwards or even repairing the damage of a hacker attack.”
In concrete terms, security engineering means that security is taken into account in the complete software engineering cycle. For example, using threat modeling or the “zero trust” approach, which assigns users only as many rights as they really need.
Security engineering also means that business-critical data is given special protection, or that a system does not rely on a single firewall, but instead creates different zones or subnetworks behind it.
With System Thinking, companies, digital environments or software development are viewed as systems – and increasingly also referred to as socio-technical systems. Systems theory as a scientific branch has its roots in 20th century sociology and political science, but is currently experiencing a renaissance
“Methods such as value stream mapping help identify idle times, waiting times and dead ends in order to optimize the flow of decisions or processes,” says Patrick Labud. Demand for such analyses is increasing in part because of the availability of new tools that can be used to make corresponding visualizations.
“We often apply value stream analyses to transformation projects or to software architectures, trying to consistently eliminate non-target elements between the initial state and the target state through the process of product development throughout the company,” Labud says.
The method helps identify optimization potential around a development team.
“Many companies are becoming software companies and don’t even realize it,” says Patrick Labud, referring to the merging of business and IT strategy. In other words, the technology within the company is becoming relevant to the business, while the actual products are becoming a minor matter.
“Insurance companies are now IT companies,” says Labud, “and even car manufacturers like VW are going through such a transformation.” The term Strategy Engineered is used to describe this development. Business and IT are being merged so that they no longer function as two separate areas.
To be sure, business strategy has always had an impact on IT strategy and vice versa. But the fact that software development can suddenly become the core business is new. If IT and business strategy are harmoniously interwoven in the sense of strategy engineered, products or services can be developed and offered competitively.
Since Dall-E 2 or Stable Diffusion, creative image creations with AI are also known to a broader audience. Such approaches also exist in software development. In addition to Microsoft (GitHub Copilot) and Amazon (CodeWhisperer), there are also products like Tabnine or Captain Stack that offer an AI pair programmer solution.
Community reactions to these have been very mixed. Software development using AI can be an opportunity to learn about and build on alternative and possibly higher performing code. It also offers the potential to write non-business-relevant code faster.
However, the danger is that – based on the training set of the model – code with hacks will be generated. AI tools should therefore not be used without engineering practices such as TDD.
This is how the Technica Radar is created
Extensive research, assessments and discussions are necessary before the Technica Radar is available. The bbv CTO Board (right) continuously collects and evaluates information on the latest trends in what is known as Technica Scouting.
The experts and members of the CTO Board gather their experiences from conferences and participate in communities and user groups. They keep an eye on the competition and customers’ domains and do scientific research to find out what’s driving the academic side of IT.
The CTO Board also takes into account trend barometers, studies by market research companies such as Gartner or ThoughtWorks, business-oriented publications such as Forbes, and even the federal government’s IT recommendations.
The CTO Board then organizes the collected information and classifies the various technica, among other things, according to economic potential and maturity. “We analyze all the information and weight and adapt it for the Swiss market. Because not every global hype immediately plays a role for us,” explains Marco Ravicini.
In the classification phase, the Technica are divided into the three trend categories: “Trend upwards”, “Trend downwards” and “Breaking Chance”.
The bbv CTO Board then consolidates the collected information in the Technica Portfolio. There, the individual Technica are described and their importance is assessed together with the bbv experts.
When classifying the current Hot Topics, lively discussions arise – for example, how great the potential of a technology is and whether it currently belongs to the “Use” category or rather to the “Evaluate” category. This is where newer, not yet established techniques, methods and tools are to be found.
The third category, “Rethink,” includes those technica whose use should be reexamined depending on the context. “With this category, we want to make people think, to tease the market,” says Marco Ravicini with a grin.
The CTO Board then visualizes the relevant Technica with the Technica Radar.
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Senior Software Architect