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Ops Digest Issue # 5: Top Tech Trends in 2023

Welcome to Ops Digest. Subscribe and receive this newsletter in your inbox every month.

In this issue:

  • The latest from the world of ops
  • Top tech trends to look out for in 2023
  • Recapping the Changemakers hackathon! Removing operational roadblocks for good 
  • Learn about transferable skills and how they help operations pros stand out 
  • Recent happenings at Tonkean

The tech industry underwent much change this past year. Some of it was born of adversity and our attempts to respond to it. Though much of it was the product of exciting technological and operational breakthroughs—certain of which have the potential to reshape how companies operate and how people work. 

Of course, as with all big and important technological advancements, true progress comes not from the advancements themselves, but from how they’re accessed, embraced, and leveraged by humans. 

That’s why, for our money, the top tech trends to look out for in 2023 will revolve around our attempts as humans to better understand and harness new and innovative technologies—from paradigm-shifting advancements in AI to evolutions in automation and no-code interfaces.

Those who stay ahead of the curve could help define a new status quo—a completely new reality of how companies operate. In fact, when we look back 10 years from now, we might understand 2023 as a turning point, the moment powerful technological innovations converged with certain strategic insights to create a new and more human-centric future of work. 

Below, we break down what we believe will be the most important tech trends and advancements for ops pros and their organizations to get out in front of over the coming year. (You can also read our full blog on the matter here.) 

But first, let’s catch up on what else is happening in the world of ops.

Top of the Ops

– The story of Southwest Airlines’ disastrous flight cancellations over the holidays is a story of operational neglect. 

– If Microsoft indeed plans to pour $10 billion into OpenAI (maker of ChatGPT), its products may get a boost from AI—which could affect operations in every organization that uses them—positively, negatively, or both.

– But will ChatGPT bring NLP AI into legalops in a new and powerful way? Probably not, says a Bloomberg Law survey

– Another key finding of the Bloomberg Law survey? Only 53% of respondents felt they were sufficiently trained on their legal tech.

According to a McKinsey survey, some of the innovation shifts in HR operations include adopting agile principles, “productizing” HR services to be purpose-built for the organization’s needs, and automating HR solutions.

– By borrowing DevOps principles of “agility, continuous integration, and shorter deployment cycles,” FinOps can satisfy the importance of financial governance balanced against the ever-changing, immediate nature of the cloud, wrote Matt Ashare in CIO.

If you have some insightful news or knowledge about the world of ops to share, let us know!

Ops in the field

Top tech trends to look out for in operations in 2023

1) Leveraging advancements in AI to improve productivity

The hype around AI text and image generators, such as ChatGPT and Dall-E, is significant, and their potential is real. ChatGPT, for example, which can communicate with users in plain English using an updated version of OpenAI’s AI system. Here’s the thing, though: Such tools can’t achieve anything like that on their own. Rather, their effectiveness depends on how you use it

AI tools allow what Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at The Wharton School, calls “human-machine hybrid work.” Over the course of 2023, you’re going to see people and organizations iterating and improving upon the manner in which they collaborate with AI to optimize the way they work.

2) Renewed focus on using technology to improve operations 

If you traveled over the holidays—or if you as much as glanced at social media—you were no doubt aware that Southwest Airlines was in the midst of a disaster, canceling thousands of flights. All told, the airline canceled more than 60% of its scheduled flights over the last week of the year. 

What happened? Two words: operational neglect. 

In the days following the crisis a Southwest pilot shared a post on Facebook detailing the state of Southwest’s operations in the years preceding the meltdown, which he suggested was a long time coming. Here’s a jaw-dropper: He said the airline managed all 20,000 of its frontline employees not through any kind of online system—but manually, through phone calls.

The lesson in all this is fairly simple: Organizations are products, ultimately, of their operations. The processes and systems they rely on are infrastructural. Your operations are the first thing you should invest in when you’re thinking about how to prepare your company for the future. 

3) The end of SaaS bloat

Many of the strategic insights successful organizations alight upon in 2023 will revolve around leverage. We already saw this last year. As layoffs mounted, and knowledge workers were asked to do more with less, many organizations thought more carefully about how to do that better—and in a way that removed burdensome work from people instead of adding to it. 

The most important lesson is this: technology is only valuable so far as it accentuates and buttresses humanity and human-specific skill sets. 

Forward-thinking organizations will cut SaaS bloat on the one hand because of budgetary constraints. But this will not only be about spend. Organizations will also be forced to do more with a smaller staff. Companies can no longer rely on hiring as the default move to solve problems anymore; instead, they’ll need to focus on maximizing employees’ time and expertise by augmenting technology and processes. 

4) Recognition that no-code is not an end in and of itself, but a means of increasing access 

Misconceptions about no-code, what it’s for, and how to use it still abound. One of the most common erroneous assumptions is that no-code is supposed to replace developers. It can’t, and it’s not designed to. No-code interfaces are not replacements for developers. They’re abstraction layers designed to enable people who are not classically trained coders to better access and utilize powerful technology—including AI. 

This is a critical distinction, because those who try to implement no-code incorrectly—as an end unto itself rather than as a means of increasing access for more people in an organization—will be doomed to fail. 

(We’ve written extensively about no-code in the past. Learn more about what the technology really is and how it should be used here, with No-code 101.)

5) Using automation software with a focus on improving the employee experience. 

Technology is only as powerful as its application is strategic. And in 2023, organizations will use automation as a means of enabling employees to spend more time focusing on high-value work, and less on manual work. 

Today, on average, more than half of every employee’s day—58% of the work we do—cannot be accounted for. The time is lost to unstructured manual work. 

Consider the way most organizations manage the seemingly simple task of informal internal request handling, like when someone on the sales team needs a contract approved by Legal, or when a customer success manager has a feature request for the product team. In such an instance, the requester will probably do something like Slack a colleague with their request, or send them a message in Teams (or even an email). 

At Tonkean, we think of this as a rather simple intake problem. And it’s the perfect problem for automation to solve. 

In 2023, you’ll see more and more organizations waking up to this fact, and in turn investing in automation platforms that automatically intake, triage, and standardize unstructured inbound internal requests. 

We believe that this year, economic and technological headwinds will bring a renewed focus on operations and efficiency, as well as reinvigorate excitement about technology’s operational potential. The trends listed above very well might just be the beginning. 

Read the full post here

Tell us about clever solutions, success stories, and yes gift ideas you want your ops peers to know about for future newsletters.

Community Spotlight

We finished the year strong with our third annual Changemakers hackathon, where we pair makers from our community with nonprofits who need help with an operational challenge. 

Through Changemakers, we’ve matched more than 50 makers with over 35 nonprofits looking to solve their operational challenges. Changemakers has saved these organizations over 20,000 hours of manual work and donated $15,000 to their causes!

For Changemakers 2022, our participation grew to 10 nonprofit organizations and 19 makers—some new to Changemakers, and some alumni. (This dovetails with the growth of our community, AdaptiveOps, which grew by 200 members this year!)

Learn more about the participants, problems, and solutions from this year’s event in this recap. And to dig in deeper, attend our upcoming webinar on January 25—Changemakers Showcase: Leveraging No-Code to Aid Underprivileged Youth—where the winning team will join us to discuss how they leveraged no-code to build a platform that allows students and teachers to interact with and contribute to their data.

And if you want to learn more about either volunteering your skills or including your organization in Changemakers 2023, join the AdaptiveOps community!

For us at Tonkean, what we see in Changemakers is further evidence that the thing we work on every day—helping organizations of all types and sizes solve problems and do better, more efficient, more meaningful work—is necessary and valuable. Coming off a week where we got to see that impact up close gives us a boost of energy for the coming year and everything Tonkean will create.

Be sure to subscribe to AdaptivOps to get free access to the forum, maker academy, and AdaptivOps Weekly newsletter

Maestro's Minutes

– Dig in deeper on Changemakers by attending our upcoming webinar on January 25: Changemakers Showcase: Leveraging No-Code to Aid Underprivileged Youth

– This month’s Tonkean release notes include upgrades to Workspace Apps and Custom Item Interfaces. Specifically, both have new widgets that provide a richer and more interactive experience and customization. You can now embed a wide range of rich media content into your workspace app or item interface using an iframe—things like Google Slides, spreadsheets, documents, YouTube videos, Google Maps, PDFs, and even other websites. You can add images, too. Other new features include a new 24-hour time format in the date picker; user support roles for Azure Ad provisioning; Google BigQuery and Allocadia data source integration; and various bug fixes. 

– Want to learn more about how the Tonkean platform works? Check out our upcoming webinar that introduces Custom Interfaces and Workspace Apps! Hosted by our own Rory O’Brien, here’s the description: “Learn how to use the No-Code interface builder to bring life to your workflows. You’ll be able to set up customized views for items on each of your modules with Custom Interfaces. You can also create company-wide Workspace Apps to give your colleagues a way to kickstart your already built workflows, view the statuses of current items, get information in a centralized portal, and even give individuals or teams customized views that are pertinent to their work.” Register now for the webinar—January 19 at 12pm CST.

– Be sure to check out our newest initiative aimed at making Tonkean even easier to use, all on your own: Tonkean 101! Step by step guides and quick, snackable videos.

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