Nine biz-tech predictions for 2017

Indianapolis’ tech scene has a few consumer-facing outfits—but most of the tech companies here serve up software to other businesses. These companies make tech for health care, the legal community and other fields, as well as for specific departments of companies of all stripes.

IBJ's Jared Council recently asked nine leaders to outline trends they see emerging in 2017.

Acceleration in the rise of consumerism and the cloud

Brad Bostic, CEO and chairman health care-software firm

bosticBrad Bostic

As people shift to high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts, they become discriminating health care consumers. They expect to pay for high quality care and excellent service, a trend that will continue as the cost of health care explodes. When considering where to spend their health care dollar, the new health care consumer expects to receive the same caliber of individualized service that retailers like Amazon deliver. The key to Amazon’s success is its use of the cloud to continuously construct, organize and enrich customer profiles that lead to personalized engagement and tailored service for each and every customer.

In order to thrive in 2017 and beyond, health care organizations must find ways to better unify, mine, and leverage data to uncover the insight necessary to deliver truly personalized care.

CIOs find that owning a data center is like wearing a leisure suit

Pat O’Day, chief technology officer at data-recovery and hosting firm Bluelock

odayPat O'Day

Up until fairly recently you could get a measure of a chief information officer by asking them about their data center. Just like leisure suits in the 1970s, owning more than one data center was even more exciting. This made sense given the significant amount of capital sunk into building data centers. Not to mention the ongoing cost of staffing, operating and filling them with computers and storage technology.

As 2017 rolls in, more technology leaders will begin to silently shed the contents of those data centers by migrating applications to the cloud in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS) and pushing the majority of the capital and operating cost onto the software vendor. To keep up, CIOs that keep their data center investments for security, compliance or due to sunk costs will look for opportunities to shore up their capacity and performance limitations with elastic cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or minimize the risk of downtime by adding cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

Data security will continue to drive software buying

Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack, an online-form and data collection platform

byersChris Byers

The subject of data security and compliance isn't new, but it isn't going away and is going to become a key checklist item for all software buyers using cloud services. This historically has been a concern for the IT department in larger businesses, but the rise in cloud-based health care and HR solutions geared toward [small and mid-sized businesses] will only increase conversations around data security. The recent election has also placed a magnifying glass on the creative ways your data can be accessed.

We've seen a rise in non-health-care-based businesses like universities and HR departments asking about our HIPAA-compliant form plans to ensure they have the highest level of data protection—even when it's not a requirement for them. We’ll continue to invest in keeping security measures high for our customers in 2017 and beyond.

Cloud migration will be a risk-mitigation strategy                                                                     

Glenn Weinstein, co-founder and chief information officer of Appirio

weinsteinGlenn Weinstein

Chief information security officers will increasingly see cloud migration as a risk-mitigation strategy; choosing to delegate industrial-strength security to major cloud providers such as Amazon and Google because they view it as a safer and more scalable option versus continuing to invest in corporate network perimeter defense.

Similarly, [chief information officers] will implement measures to minimize security risks posed by desktop and laptop computers, by lessening users' dependence on them as storage devices. Workflows will be designed so that users find it easier to save data in the cloud versus their hard drives. We should see more laptop vendors following the Chromebook example of treating the user-writeable portion of the hard drive entirely as short-term storage—to be erased between user sessions.

Law firms will adopt technology to combat realization rates

Haley Altman, CEO of legal-software firm Doxly

haleyHaley Altman

Realization rates describe the percentage of money law firms collect relative to what they charge. Increasingly, law firms will respond to low realization rates with increased adoption of technology tools focused on efficiency.

As 2016 realization rates dropped to an all-time low, firms that have implemented a digital strategy to help them grow and scale have seen positive results. Short-term, reactive measures, like increasing rates, don't scale for long-term growth and profitability, as this can negatively impact client-retention rates. Attorneys leveraging project-management resources reduced time spent on non-billable tasks by four to eight hours per month with an ability to convert up to 100 percent of non-billable hours to billable.

Digital moves beyond marketing

Brad Gillespie, chief marketing officer for sales-productivity software firm Octiv

gillespieBrad Gillespie

Digital was once the domain of the marketer: email, website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM). Analysts predicted—rightly so—that chief marketing officer spending on technology would exceed that of the chief information officer in most organizations. Today, digital is more than just technology: it also means re-engineering or refining processes and bringing new skills into an organization.

Now, more and more functions are undergoing digital transformations—from HR to product to legal to sales. Organizations that embrace digital stand to realize significant efficiency gains, and some view digital as a means to create a competitive advantage. So, digital is no longer the domain of marketing—and that’s great for business.

The need for digital fundraising to reach millennial and Gen X donors

Steve Johns, CEO of donation-software company BidPal

johnsSteve Johns

Millennial and Gen X donors now make up over two-thirds of the U.S. workforce. The ability to reach this new generation of supporters is increasingly important for the not-for-profit community.

Traditional not-for-profits that rely on mass marketing and workplace collections must shift to digital fundraising to effectively attract this generation. This includes easy-to-use mobile giving technologies such as Text2Give, which allows donors to easily give to their favorite cause or charitable organization by sending a text message. Not-for-profits will need to become more tech savvy by providing the right means to reach donors and accept mobile payments and donations. They also need to employ digital tools and analytics to better understand their donors, spot trends and claim a bigger piece of the fundraising pie. Bottom line—it’s all about strengthening the not-for-profits' digital campaigns in 2017 across mobile, social and online channels.

Entities will embrace tech to measure, optimize cyber strategies

J.J. Thompson, CEO and founder of cybersecurity firm Rook Security

thompsonJ.J. Thompson

The chasm between supply and demand for cybersecurity professionals will continue to increase as digital security is at the forefront of media coverage and politics. Boards and governments are providing the budget for cybersecurity—and are expecting accountability from executive leadership. This results in increased emphasis for making rapid measurable improvement on this front.

Companies’ prior commitments to legacy technologies can hinder adoption of new security investments. Combine technical challenges with vast talent shortages, and one can expect companies to optimize their “cyber superheroes” through intelligent technologies. One can also expect the optimization of spending through new operational metrics tied to security outcomes. The industry will consolidate as private-equity-backed players in the $100 million revenue range will aggressively acquire companies capable of solving the aforementioned challenges. Excitement and chatter will result in an increase in optimism for technology-only solutions, resulting in an increase in failed startups in the sector.

VC investing may slow, but employee-based tech appears promising

Don Aquilano, managing partner at venture capital firm Allos Ventures

aquilanoDon Aquilano

We at Allos see a continued "hunkering down" in VC-land for 2017, despite a growing cache of capital in VCs coffers ($22 billion raised in the past year alone). 2016 venture investing declined from robust levels in 2015, and we see that trend continuing in 2017, with more cautious investing and correspondingly lower valuations and valuation multiples.

While there continues to be an abundance of investment buzz around recent VC hotspots like internet of things, AI (artificial intelligence/machine learning), and AV (autonomous vehicles), we are seeing strong market interest in B2B software that optimizes a company’s most important asset—its people. We believe that technology that helps capture the voice of the employee, improves employee-to-employee and manager-to-employee engagement, and provides organizations with actionable “people analytics” will take center stage in 2017.

We also believe employee training and up-skilling solutions that meet the needs of the next generation of employees will serve companies well. We invested in Emplify (employee engagement) and Lessonly (employee training) to take advantage of this growing demand.

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