Summary: Evolving technology and growing data volumes bring 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 5 such trends to watch in the near future.
Over the last few years, the world of enterprise technology and data have changed significantly. Digital technologies have evolved, and now play a larger role in the business than ever before. Rising data volumes have changed the way businesses operate.
As data grows and technology evolves, the role of the IT department is changing. It’s evolving from a “keep the lights on” mentality, into a key business partner. The modern IT department drives technology innovation within the organization. It helps the business capitalize on their data. It keeps the business ahead of ever-changing tech trends.
Today, let’s focus on those trends. How will technology change in the near future? How will these changes affect the IT department? As this topic is so broad, I’m splitting it up into two articles. We’ll cover some IT trends today, and the rest in a future article. Sound good? Okay, here are 5 important IT trends of 2016 and beyond.
Connected “things” drive a data explosion
Now, rising data volumes aren’t exactly a new trend. After all, we’ve seen data grow steadily over the past few years.
So, why mention it?
Because we’re about to see a data explosion. The Internet of Things (IoT) is just starting to pick up steam, and shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner estimates there will be 20.8 Billion connected things by 2020. Every one of those things generates data.
Think about that for a minute. Imagine that you’re receiving data from every aspect of your business. Your office building, delivery trucks, hardware, and more–all sending a steady stream of information.
But, it doesn’t stop there. As explained below, we have access to more data than ever before–from a variety of sources.
“There are now volumes and types of data that were not previously accessible,” says Sumit Nijhawan CEO & President of Infogix. “Machine-to-machine data, Internet-to-Internet data and social media data are just some of the pieces of information now useable, and being able to analyze this unstructured data to extract valuable analytics will now be the focus.”
But, having access to data doesn’t do much on its own. The big question: What will you do about it?
The most successful businesses in the coming years will be those that capitalize on this data influx. It will be those businesses that capture and control this data avalanche, and turn it into meaningful management information.
“Big Data” takes a backseat to “Fast Data”
Taking the last point one step further, we’re seeing a shift in big data perception. Over the past few years, the focus on big data has revolved around getting a handle on the flow of data. How can you capture, store, and analyze this data most effectively?
Now that’s changing. As organizations get more comfortable with the idea of big data, the focus shifts to speed. The question IT departments must answer in the near future: How quickly can you turn this data into something useful?
“‘Big data’ is no longer enough,” says Elizabeth Venafro, Founding Partner at Konvergent, LLC. “Companies now require ‘fast data.’ If companies can rapidly analyze data and receive actionable insight, they will be able to improve their customer service and experience, as well as bolster the bottom line.”
Automation takes center stage
The IT department is under more pressure than ever to move quickly. They’re expected to not only keep up with the ever-changing needs of the business, but drive innovation.
But, they face a problem. They’re expected to do all of this using their current resources. The reality is, most IT departments are already overworked and understaffed.
The growth of data creates complications and opportunity. On one hand, they’re expected to turn a flood of data into easily accessible analytics, which is yet another challenge facing IT.
But, on the other hand, it creates the opportunity for more automation. Growing data points provide a near-endless amount of automation triggers–events that set off a chain of pre-defined actions.
This automation holds great potential for many businesses. As explained below, it helps businesses move faster, become more efficient, and helps smaller companies compete with larger ones.
“The underlying trend affecting all technologies this year is undoubtedly “automation”, says Boris Kontsevoi, President and Founder of Intetics Co. “Automation will penetrate all major technologies because businesses need to find ways to do more with limited resources. In fact, even midmarket companies are increasingly feeling the pressure of looking and operating like the “big guys”, yet they do not have the same budgets to work with.”
Cyber crime commercialization creates more attacks
Despite the growing need for security, many businesses still struggle in this area. Year after year, they deliver applications with known vulnerabilities.
The big problem: Security is evolving–and not in a good way. Attackers are becoming more sophisticated. As more businesses move their data and applications to the web, attackers have more targets than ever.
“Security should always be a top issue for IT departments, but in 2016, the increased commercialization and commoditization of cyber crime will result not only in a greater number of attacks, but also in a greater number of potential targets,” says Dotan Bar Noy, CEO of ReSec. “By having something equivalent to malware-as-a-service available, the battleground will move from nation/state level tools vs. large organizations to a scattershot approach that could end up at the perimeter of any enterprise or SMB. This new generation of malware, ransomware and other threats will force companies to look at modifying their security stack once again.”
Despite the increasing number of attackers and targets, there’s one more problem to consider: There’s a lack of experienced security personnel.
The fact is, many businesses don’t have dedicated security personnel. Their application security is handled by developers. While developers will understand the basics of security, they can’t possibly compete with attackers whose full time job is trying to break security.
“Now and in the near future, enterprises are facing a convergence of issues at the point of attack when it comes to their IT security resources: a lack of experienced personnel and fragmented, human-intensive security technology,” says Bar Noy. “The combined effect of lesser qualified people operating slightly older systems that require a lot of attention and know-how means that either the business side suffers due to long queues that delay files reaching users, or security is imperfect because they release files quickly then reexamine them later. There’s a need for greater automation and machines that can conduct self-assessment without human interaction to create conclusive results.”
Enterprise cloud adoption speed accelerates
A recent Infoworld article proposes that we abandon the term “cloud computing” altogether. Why? Cloud computing has matured to the point where it has become synonymous with “computing.”
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a changing attitude towards the cloud. It’s gradually gained trust and adoption in the enterprise. In fact, it’s reached a point where many prefer cloud options over in-house infrastructure. In the coming years, we can expect this trend to grow, as more businesses move towards cloud options en masse.
“As cloud prices lower, spending in the cloud will increase in 2016 and gain further market share over non-cloud infrastructure spending,” says Alex Polvi, founder and CEO of CoreOS. “Enterprises will put more workloads on cloud technologies than ever before. With a proven track record and more confidence in the security of cloud and infrastructure software, enterprises will see the cloud as better maintained and an overall more secure environment over the complexity of maintaining their own data center.”
What does this mean for IT departments? It means less focus on creating and managing infrastructure, and more focus on delivering solutions. It also means that the IT department must understand all aspects of cloud offerings–from benefits to risks–and offer educated recommendations to the business.
“Cloud computing is also transforming the IT environment into XaaS (x means anything as a service), where various internal IT services can be outsource and hosted on a remote platform, only use as needed, and pay as you go, whether it is storage, desktop, security, and disaster recovery,” explains Yves Dorleans, Director of Information Security at Continuum. “It is predicted that the industry will grow 10 fold over the next decades as more companies will try to remain competitive by outsourcing expensive IT functions. Before jumping completely on the Cloud computing band wagon, a thorough business and risk analysis needs to be implemented to find out long and short term impact of adoption, as well as cost, return on investment (ROI) and effect on SLA (service level agreement) to internal and external customers.”
Now, these are just 5 important IT trends you can expect to see in the near future, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be covering more important IT trends in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
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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