We have seen many adventurous years in our company, but few as adventurous as 2017. All the groundwork we did in 2017, will allow us to accumulate many more adventures in the years to come. But I predict that 2017 will be seen as the pivotal year which made all such adventures possible.
Looking back, the biggest challenge we had was rebranding the company. A decision to completely rebrand your company is not made lightly. And not just rebrand in terms of changing the name and colors of the company. We basically had to reinvent our whole story. Pivoting from a pure purchase-to-pay supplier to a supplier of a hpaPaaS platform for quickly and efficiently automating any kind of transaction-driven workflow process is not an easy task.
I feel that our new name, the new website and corporate story fits us perfectly (for which I want to extend my thanks again to Rosie from R-Co; You did an amazing job guiding us through this process). This together with more and more concrete and successfully implemented business cases, that focus on core business processes for our customers, makes me proud. Our employees have shown that you can accomplish a 180-degree turn-around within a short time.
But what about 2018? What will be happening in this new year and how will this influence our customers, partners, and employees. There are a few developments in the marketplace that can’t be ignored any longer by any organization.
hpaPaaS; high productivity application Platform as a Service
The first is the further acceptance of hpaPaaS platforms in the marketplace. Application development and application customization need to speed up to match the growing shortage of trained IT developers. Gartner has predicted that this shortage will only increase and that companies, which rely on IT to further their competitive edge and success, will have to change the way that business applications will be developed.
With our investment in building such a hpaPaaS platform, and not just a runner-up for our P2P application, we have gone deep and broad, but still with a very specific focus on transactional business processes. The successful implementation/configuration of the new P2P application on top of this hpaPaaS proves that we succeeded in our mission to develop a platform on top of which complex business applications can be configured. And based on the projects that we did outside the P2P arena, we have shown that we are not a one trick pony anymore.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
AI and ML are not new concepts. AI is even a very ‘old’ concept already. I can even remember when I started out in the IT business as an apprentice in my father's company at the age of 18, that AI was already an academic major at the Technical University in Delft. But back then it was mainly a concept and real-life business applications where very limited (if any).
With the introduction of Cloud computing and component-based development (PaaS), companies like Microsoft are now providing ML and AI components as a service within their platforms. Based on such services we will see more and more applications that will apply such technology to improve user experience, increase efficiency and even completely pivot business models.
Applications will become smarter and more pro-active in supporting the end-users in their day to day work and even provide deep insights into what is happening inside the business by analyzing the data that is accumulated while using such applications. And since this is mostly done in the Cloud, end-users will not only benefit from their own data. Data experience will accumulate on a higher level than just your own ‘tenant’.
WorkFlowWise is reviewing such technologies and where possible and feasible put them to good use within our hpaPaaS platform. Since our platform has been built within the Microsoft Azure PaaS environment, integration with additional Azure services like ML, BI, and AI is a natural extension of our platform.
GDPR; General Data Protection Regulation
This is the last item I want to indicate in this post on the things to be focused on in 2018. The GDPR legislation is not new, but many organizations have not yet determined how this regulation will impact their business. It seems the impact of the GDPR is still very much underestimated. What we have seen and also have been actively communicating is that the business impact of GDPR can’t be underestimated.
The new regulation is much more intrusive than previous variants of any privacy regulation. Maybe the most important change is that you now need to prove that an incident with any privacy-related data is something that you couldn’t have prevented and that you took all measures to make sure that such data was/is secured. If such proof can’t be provided, then there can be very serious consequences.
Our feeling is that the impact of GDPR on (IT) business processes are only just starting to unveil itself and that for the next few years companies will struggle to implement systems and processes to deal with this new challenge.
WorkFlowWise has taken it upon herself to review the business need for workflow management support in such compliance processes and together with our customers build a standard application on our hpaPaaS platform. This application will allow you to document, track and audit such GDPR-related processes. We expect to release the first pilot version of this application during the beginning of the second quarter 2018.
This concludes my look back and forward. We will see how the chips fall and which of these predictions will have the biggest influence on our marketplace. That they all will have a major impact is as clear as crystal from my perspective. So prepare and think about what it will mean for your organization.