Aaron White, Regional Sales Director – Middle East at Nutanix
- AI, ML, and the overall impact of bioinformatics and computing in healthcare: 2021 will see the biggest rise of AI/ML in the history of healthcare — pharma, biotech, life sciences — as humankind grapples with the current pandemic. We will blur the lines between computing and biotech for high-velocity advancements in the field of virology. This coming year, cloud computing will gain rapid ground in pharma companies to further enhance collaboration between competing firms sharing information and knowledge to expedite drug discovery. The success of contact tracing in China means that startups in the US, Europe, and India will bring similar innovation with location services-enabled mobile apps to solve vexing (lives vs. livelihood) issues that continue to mire consumer-government relations. On specific technologies, life sciences in 2021 will see the rise of containers, object storage, Python-based AI, visualization, and stream processing, as research scientists get better at data engineering and computing at large.
- The further disaggregation of the office, the firewall, and the overall network perimeter: 2021 will continue the phenomenon of miniaturization of the enterprise office and the firewall, and rapid digitization of the town hall and all-hands experience, as the remote worker logs in from home, waits for the vaccine to take effect and continues to balance video fatigue with overall family wellness. Video, AR, and VR startups will mushroom in the coming year as the enterprise responds to an increasingly assertive digital worker who would like to balance work and life — also cost of living vs. commuting (to collaborate) — sitting at home, at least partially every week. The office facility thus becomes a hybrid environment, just like computing has come to become with private and public cloud data centers. The divide between the digital worker, the factory worker, and the service worker will continue to grow in the coming year as work environments change around them in response to the pandemic. The United States will see increased repatriation of manufacturing jobs, newer factories for essential commodities, thus more computing at the edge.
- Speaking of computing at the edge, mobile-powered e-commerce will continue to make giant strides in 2021 with the remote consumer, making distribution centers, factories (and cloud kitchens), and warehouses extremely mission-critical computing environments with cloud-like reliability, availability, security, elasticity, and performance requirements in server rooms and ROBO computing closets. The cloud will disaggregate and miniaturize at rapid speeds in the coming year. Containers and data pipelines will become ubiquitous at the edge, with PaaS platforms available in even single-server “clouds.” Governance around images and video data being produced at the edge will bring even more meaningful applications of AI and ML in the hybrid enterprise.
- Operating systems of the public clouds and private clouds will swap places in 2021, as the enterprise strives to balance the laws of physics (data gravity), laws of the land (data sovereignty), and laws of economics (elasticity). GDPR and CCPA are the tip of the privacy iceberg in this world increasingly challenged by a wave of anti-globalization. That is why the best cloud software will be available anywhere and everywhere, with a frictionless control independent of location, bringing an end to proprietary engineered hardware. History teaches us that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In the coming year, public and private monikers will converge into a singular experience around billing, payment, identity, logistics, and security. The consumerization of the enterprise will only be complete when build (private clouds) vs. buy (public clouds) becomes a non-issue for the enterprise architect. Clouds will converge, post-pandemic, with 2021 being the year of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS), and database-as-a-service (DBaaS).
Wendy Pfeiffer, CIO at Nutanix
- Hybrid and Hyperconverged: What the world needs more than anything in 2021 is universal immunity to the COVID-19 virus. Even with promising vaccines reaching the global supply chain this Winter, it will take the better part of 2021 to vaccinate our global population. For this reason, we will need to continue to accommodate hybrid modes of work, school, social and family gatherings and retail shopping, to name just a few things. As some geographies, sectors and populations return to in-person interactions, others will remain online. To accommodate this prolonged period of blended consumer and corporate life, society will increasingly rely on hybrid and hyperconverged technologies—technologies that allow people and companies to efficiently share resources and capabilities in both their private and public endeavors.
- Disintermediation and Decentralization: 2020 has taught us self-reliance, as we witnessed the global melt-down and, in some cases, failure, of supply chains, medical and educational systems, social order and political discourse. In 2021, we will emerge from our collective quarantine expecting a return to “normalcy”, but with a healthy dose of optionality, mass personalization and 24×7 availability. With less reliance on travel and more immediate connection to local communities, people will expect to be known, accommodated and essential to the businesses with whom they transact. For larger institutions, this will only be possible through an increasing reliance on machine learning and artificial intelligence delivered at and to the edge.
- Sanctuary and Safety: We’re going to need elastic waistbands, shorter commutes, wider airplane seats, flexible hours and less business travel in general. We’ll need to spend more time with pets and children, baking and writing, vacationing, and listening to others. Parents will need more time to engage in their children’s education, and children will need more time to sleep. And when we do go into offices or schools in person, we’ll need more privacy, space, and breaks than before. Helping people to be comfortable as they leave the relative sanctuary of their homes will require unprecedented access to validated health and safety data from our employers, local and regional governments and educational institutions.
Rajiv Mirani, Rajiv Mirani CTO at Nutanix
- As we settle into the post-pandemic new normal, IT will look for greater adaptability and flexibility in their infrastructure. They will look to technologies that unlock applications from physical locations. This will happen both for traditional applications as well as for modern “cloud-native” applications. Vendors need to provide for both kinds of applications to run in any cloud – private or public.
- On a related theme, IT will continue to need to provide for security, business continuity and disaster recovery for all applications, including cloud-native applications. They will look to vendors who can unify these capabilities across clouds and across both kinds of applications.
- The trend towards moving applications to public cloud will continue. However, the cost of refactoring and rewriting applications will be larger than many enterprises anticipated. Enterprises will look to technologies that enable phased refactoring, rather than “big-bang” projects.
- Augmented Reality will become more mainstream in the consumer space. New products incorporating AR into business software will emerge.
- AI will continue to grow in analyzing business data and in predictive analytics. However, it will remain a tool to guide decision making rather than being fully autonomous.
Tonya Chin, SVP Corporate Marketing and IR, and Chief Communications Officer at Nutanix
- Employee Engagement: Zoom fatigue is real and it’s not going away any time soon. As we enter 2021 without a clear sight of when the pandemic will be resolved, it is now imperative for companies to start developing a deeper strategy for meaningful engagement with employees who work remotely. If 2020 was the year of the CIO, with IT leaders globally raising to the challenge to help their companies continue operations in this new normal, I predict 2021 will be the year of the CPO. Employee relations and internal communications leaders will need to rethink how they effectively communicate with employees and keep the company culture alive without physical connection. From providing guidance on effective meeting management (I’m personally a big proponent of 45 minute meetings and Amazon’s 6-page memo approach to make meetings more productive and engaging), to segmenting employee communication to ensure personalization, to setting up all hands company meetings in multiple time zones to facilitate direct engagement with executives across the globe, 2021 is going to be the year of communicating creatively with employees!
- Customer Engagement : B2B companies have long focused on in-person events to ensure they kept their customers engaged, but that all changed in 2020. When all events became virtual earlier this year, the focus was often on optimizing for lead generation. Afterall, this was often seen as a short term issue, so most companies focused on solving the short term problem. Now we know better and I expect more and more companies will put more focus on maximizing customer engagement in the year ahead. At Nutanix, we have had great success – and fun along the way – finding creative ways to reach out to our customers, from virtual cooking classes with famous chefs to remote exclusive concerts. We have also received great feedback on activities focused on helping build our customers themselves, from resume support, to public speaking coaching, and social media guidance.
- Investor Relations: In the world of IR, in-person meetings have always been king. Investors have long relied on face-to-face meetings to capture information beyond the obvious, whether reading body language or evaluating executive demeanor right before a big presentation. But something interesting happened in 2020, both investors and executives realized how much more productive they could be when they were not travelling most of the time. So, while I expect in-person investor meetings to resume once COVID is under control, I also believe we’ll be moving to a model where 80% of interactions are remote and 20% are in person. This will mean rethinking how to effectively engage with investors, but I also expect it will result in the “democratization” of investor relations. If high quality investors had to be extremely selective of the meetings they attended, due to the high demand, I think we’ll see them being able to listen in on many more meetings in this new normal.
- Media Landscape: The media landscape has been shrinking for a long time, due to dwindling advertising budgets and the pandemic has only put a further strain on struggling publishers. One trend that has recently seen an uptick is local publications being bought, not by larger media conglomerates looking to consolidate, but by firms producing sponsored content. This is a completely different publication model, and one that might be more financially viable (although only time will tell) but it will sometimes put transparency at odds with financial stability. While sponsored content can absolutely be just as valuable to readers, I also expect a growing need and reader demand for transparency.
- Environmental, social and corporate governance: 2020 was a very polarizing year for everyone, and we definitely saw discussion around political and social issues become more prominent for private sector companies. Leaders of companies like Salesforce, Box, Okta and Expensify have been more vocal, with some even causing issues with customers or employees as they sought to discuss social issues. In the year ahead, companies are going to have to walk a careful line between their (and their senior leaders’) beliefs and being inclusive to all, and I expect many of them to more actively involve employees directly in these decisions. As more and more companies actively develop strategies to tackle ESG, CSR, D&I issues, it will be even more critical to keep in mind some of the learnings from 2020 to balance between company key beliefs and values and employees and customers who may not agree with the more extreme (or aggressive) stances that some companies may take. This tightrope will be an ongoing challenge for communications teams everywhere.
Christian Alvarez, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels at Nutanix
We are in the midst of a significant, lasting transformation in how companies go to market and how customers procure and consume technology. The disruption caused by the recent pandemic will accelerate the adoption of IT innovation at an unprecedented rate. This new normal will redefine how we do everything – from where we work to telemedicine, from education to e-trading and how data is securely accessed from anywhere at any time. In today’s subscription and consumption based economy, the new buyer’s journey will continue to evolve and significantly change. Hybrid multicloud architectures will be even more essential for organizations to enable these rapid transitions and retain maximum agility. Partners who are at the front lines of these customer transformations will need to embrace the power of the cloud and cloud services, modernize legacy systems, move even more workloads to the cloud, and optimize access to data in the new era of the enterprise being everywhere. Proliferation of ‘everything-as-a-service’ models will require partners to reinvent themselves in this new reality and adopt new economic business terms, to offer flexible consumption and subscription options for the customers of today and tomorrow. New heights in customer engagement, insights and telemetry will be powered by the combination of massive computing power, machine learning, artificial intelligence and 5G being brought to market.