By on December 11, 2019

The Brave New World of Digital Innovation: Open. Decentralized. Developer-Driven.

As we approach the end of the year, I am reflecting on the fascinating evolution of how technology solves business problems. Since 2016, I have seen microservices drive buying decisions for many large enterprises. At the same time, open source adoption has been gaining ground from its emergence as a grassroots movement in the 90s to an industry-defining standard, driven by the rise of developers as strategic influencers. While seeing the change first-hand is exciting, being a data-driven marketer, I also value being able to quantify the extent to which trends are taking hold, and tectonic shifts are occurring in the market. That is why I am very excited about the 2020 Digital Innovation Benchmark from Kong.

Here at Kong, we are committed to ushering in the next era of software. To keep a pulse on the state of digital innovation across industries, we recently commissioned a survey of 200 senior technology decision makers based in the United States, including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of IT, IT directors/architects and software engineers.* We have now released the findings of this research in our 2020 Digital Innovation Benchmark. While we knew that organizations are flocking to microservices, this survey revealed that adoption is already past a critical tipping point. The results are clear: software has already changed, and organizations not keeping up with digital innovation are not likely to survive. 

First, we found that open source is no longer a nice-to-have or a slight competitive edge for companies. Across industries, open source is now becoming the baseline and is forming the basis of a new tech stack. And yes, this is beyond just Linux. Eighty-three percent of respondents report their organization is using open source. The most commonly used open source technologies are databases. The next most commonly used open source technologies are containers (48 percent), API gateways (41 percent), infrastructure automation (40 percent), container orchestration (37 percent) and CI/CD tools (36 percent), which are all critical technologies to develop, deploy and run microservices at scale. They represent the new order for enabling innovative applications and business solutions.

Second, to spur innovation many organizations have embraced microservices architectures. Eighty-four percent of surveyed organizations are using microservices, with surveyed organizations running an average of 184 microservices and 60 percent of respondents running 50 or more. Again, whereas years ago migrating to microservices used to be an aspiration for many organizations, or perceived as realistic only in more innovative industries, today running on microservices has become the new normal. Technology leaders note multiple reasons for transitioning to microservices depending on the priorities of their individual organization, with improvements to security, increased development speed and increased speed of integrating new technologies frequently mentioned as drivers of adoption.

Finally, technology leaders recognize that the new open, decentralized world creates new challenges to address. Ninety percent of technology leaders across industries agree that

“one of the biggest technical challenges for organizations in the 21st century will be having a way to connect applications/services and secure data in motion at a massive scale and with optimum performance and reliability.” Underscoring the importance of digital innovation, many leaders (37 percent) also indicated that organizations that fail to keep up with the pace of digital innovation would likely go out of business or be absorbed by a competitor within three years. While cloud native technology used to be a way to create a competitive edge, this survey shows that the rapid evolution of digital innovation across industries now makes this a requirement for survival. 

We should celebrate that the next era of software is already here. At the same time, to address the needs of this new era, technology leaders must embrace solutions that prepare them for the unique challenges of an open, decentralized world. If you want to ensure your organization keeps up with the pace of digital innovation, I encourage you to learn from other leaders’ priorities and perspectives. So, find a comfortable nook and pour yourself a mug of something warm–I promise this will be a good read for your cold December evening.  

* Footnote: Respondents were evenly divided between publicly traded and privately held companies that had 1,000 or more employees. The “2020 Digital Innovation Benchmark” survey was fielded in August 2019 and represents a range of industries, including business and professional services; financial services; IT, technology and telecoms; manufacturing and production; and retail, distribution and transport.

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