Summary: As technology evolves at an ever-increasing pace, it brings major changes to the IT department. In this era, the IT department moves from a back-office function to a true business partner. What trends are driving this change, and how must your IT department adapt? In this article, we examine 7 more trends to watch in the near future.
The role of the IT department is evolving. As technology plays a larger role in business, the IT department is shifting from a back office function into a key business driver.
How is the IT department changing in the near future? What trends can we expect? In the first part of this article, we explored these 5 key trends:
- Pervasive analytics takes center stage
- Data security becomes everyone’s job
- Small vendors make life hard for the industry giants
- The physical workplace becomes less relevant
- More responsibilities move outside of IT
But, those trends are just the tip of the iceberg. Today, let’s go a step further. What other trends can we expect in 2015 and beyond? Here are 7 important IT trends to watch for in the near future:
1. IT becomes the “technology enabler”
“IT is no longer about delivering a technological resource that the business can take advantage of,” says Bobby Dominguez, Chief Strategy and Security Officer, Lynx Technology Partners, Inc. “The business is now driving the capabilities it needs and wants, regardless of whether the IT department can deliver the resources. Simply put, IT has shifted from infrastructure delivery, to product delivery, and then services delivery.”
As mentioned above, IT is undergoing a shift. In the past, IT controlled technology because it was scarce, and hard for users to obtain and use. If the business needed hardware or software, they went through IT.
Over the last few years, that has changed. Consumer technology caught and surpassed business technology. Simple, low-cost SaaS options sprung up that offered a better experience than IT-sanctioned software. With these changes, business units are increasingly bypassing IT and obtaining technology on their own.
What can IT do about this? According to Gartner, IT must undergo a fundamental shift. They recently introduced the concept of “Bimodal IT,” designed to address these changes.
What does this mean? Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information- and technology-intensive services in its own way. Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is nonsequential, emphasizing agility and speed.
Where does this leave IT? The IT department must shift from “technology gatekeeper” to “technology enabler.” Rather than control the technology, they must focus on speed, and delivering the capabilities that the business needs. They must become a true business partner, not a separate entity.
2. The skills gap widens
A recent study finds that 93% of businesses indicate there is an IT skills gap–a substantial shortfall between the supply of qualified IT professionals and the demand for modern IT skills.
The problem: As technology evolves at breakneck speed, this IT skills gap is widening.
“A big change in the IT industry is the overlap of skills needed to succeed,” says Peter Dorotiak, Director at Aspect IT ltd. “No longer are clients ringing up and requesting just a new website design, they now need SEO incorporating into this, along with ecommerce functionalities and mobile responsiveness. This means our employees must be experts in all different areas rather than just general IT support and web design.”
The big(ger) problem: The same study finds that the importance of information technology to a company’s overall success is growing. In other words, as technology becomes more important, finding employees with modern technology skills is becoming more challenging.
What does this mean for IT? Businesses must find ways to address this IT skills gap while staying current with the ever-changing tech trends.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT) brings a data influx
We hear all about “Big Data,” but where is this data coming from? More and more, it’s coming from web-connected buildings/objects and device sensors–a trend that will grow exponentially in the coming years.
As more physical objects connect to the internet, IT departments face a challenge. In the next few years, we’ll see a greater push to capture and harness this data. As explained by Forbes “Every enterprise needs to factor in how the Internet of Things is going to affect them and their business, and must respond by establishing the right infrastructure to support this level of Big Data and analytics. If they don’t, they will fall behind.”
“A significant amount of new devices will continue to be added to the network in keeping with the IoT (Internet of Things),” says David Glenn RCDD, CTS-D, LEED AP BD+C, Systems Designer at The Sextant Group. “New buildings now have various sensors and devices connected to the network for building automation, management, and monitoring services. These connected “things” are now able to communicate and share powerful data that can support meaningful analytics that ultimately can lead to improving and streamlining business operations. In keeping with the consumerization of technology, more items will continually be added to the network. This is especially true as high performance and intelligent buildings require more of these devices. As more devices are added to the network, IT departments must understand who is managing each individual device, their security requirements, and the potential consequences if that device is offline for a period of time.”
What types of data can you extract from web-connected devices, and how will it improve your business? The options are truly limitless. For instance, retailers can track shelf inventory in real-time, office buildings can alert you to energy-saving opportunities, and so much more. You can also find another great example in this webinar on the practical uses of Hadoop. One example highlighted in the webinar explains how machine data pulled from HVAC systems lets users analyze potential problems.
4. IoT (also) brings new security concerns
While the Internet of Things provides data that can improve your business, it’s not without risk. Specifically, how do you secure every connected device?
“In the coming year, we are going to see an increase in the adoption of gadgets, home appliances that connect to the internet,” says Prateek Gianchandani, Security Researcher at the InfoSec Institute. “However, in addition to the convenience it offers us, it also increases the attack surface for the hacker. This year, there have been a number of attacks demonstrated in conferences worldwide showing attacks on these embedded devices. Also, some of these devices might not even support software upgrades, which makes it even more vulnerable. These devices could be potentially used to install trojans on the network, install malware and ransomware, deliver unwanted ads etc. Security of Internet of things is worth keeping a close eye on for 2015.”
Now, some IT leaders view IoT security as a consumer issue–not a problem they need to worry about. Will the Internet of Things affect IT departments in the near future? Absolutely! According to a recent report from IDC, the Internet of Things will revolutionize IT in the next few years. It’s not a trend you can afford to ignore.
“Bottom-line, while everyone is looking at IoT as a consumer security problem, it presents numerous challenges for the enterprise,” said Trevor Daughney, Executive Vice President at Inside Secure. “Whether or not IT leaders want to consider the impacts to their enterprise, it will not be a choice – their job description moving forward will look a whole lot different.”
5. Attacks on legacy software increase
Many businesses still run their operations on software created 20-30 years ago. Why don’t they replace these legacy systems? Oftentimes, they’re locked down. Past customizations have locked the business into a specific software, or version. Replacing these systems comes with considerable cost and risk.
But, how much do these legacy systems truly cost the business? As explained below, security is one cost of legacy systems that is often overlooked. Attackers are targeting known vulnerabilities in older software–a practice which you can expect more of in the coming years.
“In 2014, we had two major vulnerabilities with the names of Heartbleed and Shellshock, one of which targeted a weakness in the OpenSSL cryptographic library and the other one in the Unix Bash shell,” says Gianchandani. “These are softwares we have been dependent on since a long time and any vulnerability in these softwares could potentially have a very huge target base. Attackers have already recognized this fact and we can expect more of such vulnerabilities discovered in the coming year.”
6. Business gravitate towards the hybrid cloud
While many businesses are migrating some data/services to the public cloud, few are going all in. With security concerns surrounding cloud computing, many opt for a “hybrid cloud” approach–a combination of public and private cloud services.
In a growing trend, we’ll see this approach become more popular in the coming years. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017, nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments.
“Companies will continue to migrate to public cloud solutions due to the many benefits they provide, including cost-effectiveness, improved quality of service and performance, and gains in agility and speed in implementation of solutions,” says Adam Simpson, CEO/co-founder of Easy Office Phone. “However, many mid-size businesses have not yet completely transitioned to cloud computing due to fears about cyber security, loss of control of their data, and sharing their data space within a public cloud solution. Companies that have specialized Line of Business Apps (LOB), compliance requirements or sensitive customer data need the redundancy and uptime of a public cloud solution, but the security of a private network. In 2015, prices will drop for online storage and data transfers, which will cause SMBs – particularly those that prefer not to use a public solution due to risks of sharing physical resources – to take a second look at hosted private cloud solutions.”
7. IT Automation takes off
More than ever, IT groups face more pressure to reduce costs and show business value. Combine this fact with the increase of web-connected devices, and we see a big trend emerging: IT automation. IT automation is the linking of disparate systems and software in such a way that they become self-acting or self-regulating.
The opportunities in this area are limitless. Just imagine: Now, you can automate actions based on nearly any event, using software or hardware based triggers. This growth will not only drive down IT costs, it will improve productivity.
“One important IT trend we’re seeing is IT Automation,” says Kim Terca, Director of UX and PR, Netvibes. “With the Internet of Things, remote-controlling your thermostat is just the tip of the iceberg. The real magic lies in *automatic interactions* between data, events and devices. By selecting the Trigger(s) and Action(s), the enterprise can create “Potions” that automate almost any digital activity, without the need for IT intervention.”
*When the website goes down:* email the IT team, text the administrator, and automatically begin the reboot process through SSH.
*When a DDoS attack is detected:* automatically block packets from that source, and send mobile alerts to the IT team using PushBullet.”
While those are some great examples, the opportunities are truly limitless. This could range from automatic email replies based on customer actions, to automatic shutdown when a device overheats, and everything in between. As more and more devices connect to the web, your automation opportunities expand greatly.
Now, these are just a few important IT trends you can expect to see in the near future, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.
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