One of the key responsibilities of a chief technology officer (CTO) is to help define an organisation's technology strategy. This includes identifying tools and services that can deliver benefits in a cost-effective manner, and help organisations remain innovative and competitive.
I recently asked five CTOs to identify the technology areas that are particularly strategic or promising for their organisations. Our discussion turned up the key areas where technology innovation and industry demand meet today.
It’s no surprise AI technologies would be on CTO’s radar, because they are among the hottest offerings in the market today. The CTOs I spoke to see AI as a way to address a wide variety of business challenges.
“One of the key areas we are currently focusing on is machine learning,” said Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA, a provider of secure file services. “We are beginning to use it for various use cases, including anomaly detection in storage systems, which helps us to identify and alert on potential security threats such as ransomware attacks, and to monitor and optimise the usage of storage resources.”
Another area Brand is exploring is generative AI models. “As the CTO of a company that deals with unstructured data storage, I am currently exploring these cutting-edge deep learning models for their capability to generate new content and ideas,” he said.
To fully realise the potential of generative AI in the enterprise, it's crucial for companies to have the infrastructure in place for handling unstructured data pipelines. “My goal is for CTERA to be at the forefront of enabling these pipelines for machine-generated data, particularly in generative AI, and to position my company as a significant player in the adoption of generative AI within the enterprise,” said Brand.
Generative AI tools such as GitHub Copilot enable developers to write code more efficiently and effectively by suggesting code snippets and completing lines of code in real-time, said Ariel Katz, CTO at software company Sisense, which infuses AI-driven analytics into its workflow, products, and customer experience.
“These tools are becoming increasingly important for organisations that want to improve productivity and reduce development and test time,” said Katz.
It’s difficult to find an organisation in any sector that is not relying on the cloud in some way to support business processes or IT operations. That’s because the cloud has changed everything in terms of access to computing power and data storage, providing more agility and scalability than companies were seeing with their own data centers.
Anaqua, a company that provides services to help corporations and law firms gain a competitive advantage from their intellectual property, is expanding its use of cloud services that provide specialised functions to improve its clients’ experience and optimise the company’s own efforts.
For example, one initiative is integrating Microsoft’s Azure Form Recognizer into Anaqua’s document processing capability. “This will enable greater quality and efficiency in optical character recognition and overall document workflow management, removing potential manual work and letting [analysts] focus on higher-value activities,” said Anaqua CTO Erik Reeves.
“We are also leveraging cloud services to make data integration easier and more flexible,” Reeves added. “This initiative gives our clients the power to leverage whatever tools they choose for analytics and reporting. In this way, they can align with other corporate reporting or data processing tools and combine with other sources of data, putting the power in their hands to choose their method to pull, analyse, and report on the important data we generate.”
Arvest Bank, a community bank with more than $26 billion in assets, is also taking advantage of the cloud.
“By migrating our systems and applications to the cloud, we are able to take advantage of its many benefits, including scalability, agility, and cost savings,” said CTO Ninish Ukkan. “This allows us to quickly spin up new resources as needed, scale our operations to meet changing demands, and reduce our overall infrastructure costs. This has been a critical enabler for our organisation as we continue to grow and expand our operations.”
A Devops tool or combination of tools can help in the development and management of software applications throughout the development lifecycle. The market holds a wide variety of offerings. Among the more popular devops tools are Slack, Jenkins, Docker, Phantom, Ansible, and GitHub.
As more organisations adopt a devops strategy, it stands to reason that demand for these tools will rise. Research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), in a 2022 report, said the worldwide devops software tools market will see a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent between 2022 and 2026.
“Devops tools such as GitLab and Jenkins enable us to automate our development and deployment processes, reducing manual errors and increasing our speed to market,” said Sisense's Katz. “These tools are essential for organisations that want to achieve continuous integration and continuous delivery and improve their software development lifecycle."
Containerisation is a virtualisation technology that enables software applications to run in isolated user spaces called containers. These containers can run in any cloud or non-cloud environment, regardless of type or vendor. As an approach, containerisation is on the rise. IDC has said containers are the foundation for agile and automated deployment of modern applications, and the enterprise segment is growing rapidly.
“Containerisation platforms allow us to deploy our applications quickly, and continuously evolve with newer use cases and customer scenarios,” said Robert Rozploch, CTO at Clearspeed, a provider of AI-driven voice-based technology.
“The size and complexity of the applications we develop and use have grown alongside the demand and rapid developments in technology,” Rozploch said. “Adding to the difficulty of managing these huge applications, the underlying infrastructure they’re built on can often be diverse, expansive, and complicated.”
Containerisation will allow Clearspeed’s developers to create and deploy applications faster and more securely, Rozploch said, needing fewer dependencies to run and increasing the ease of deployment in new environments.
“The fact that containers are independent of their infrastructures means that we can take advantage of that portability to scale efficiently, optimise computing resources and respond to changes in across our various operating scenarios,” Rozploch added.
Real-time data streaming
Streaming data is continuously generated from different sources and is processed incrementally using stream-processing techniques without having access to all the data. Data streaming can be used to deliver content to devices over the Internet, enabling users to access content immediately rather than having to wait for it to be downloaded.
The technology can be applied to a number of business processes and can be especially valuable when users are able to receive the data as soon as it is generated.
“A newer technology we are exploring is streaming real-time data,” said Arvest Bank's Ukkan. “By analysing data as it flows in real time, we can detect fraud sooner and protect our customers more effectively. This is particularly important in today's fast-paced business environment, where threats can emerge quickly and without warning. By streaming real-time data, we can stay one step ahead of fraudsters and minimise the impact of any attacks."