5 (more) IT trends to watch in 2018 and beyond

EducationSummary: 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 5 more trends to watch in the near future.

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The role of the IT department is changing. Driven by growing data and evolving technology, IT departments shift from a back-office function into a key business partner.

To be effective in this role, the IT department must drive technology innovation. It must help the business capitalize on their data. It must stay ahead of ever-changing technology.

How is technology changing? How do these changes impact the IT department? In the first part of this article, we explored these 5 important trends, and how they impact the IT department:

  • GDPR changes how you handle data
  • The Blockchain sees rapid growth
  • Automation becomes a competitive necessity
  • Artificial Intelligence reshapes businesses
  • Digital Business becomes table stakes

But, those trends are just the tip of the iceberg. Today, let’s go a step further. What other trends can we expect in the near future? Here are 5 more important IT trends to watch for in 2018 and beyond:

1. Security takes center stage

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I debated whether or not to add security into this list. After all, it’s not a new trend. People have been discussing its importance for years now.

Ultimately, I decided to include it for one simple reason: It’s still a major issue that IT departments cannot ignore in the near future. Despite all of the talk about security over the past decade, businesses still haven’t solved the problem.

How bad is it? A recent report found that 94 percent of web applications suffer from high-severity vulnerabilities. Another study found that 25% of web apps are still vulnerable to 8 of the OWASP Top Ten–a list of the most critical (yet fixable) application security risks.

Here’s the crazy part: Most of the security risks on the OWASP Top Ten aren’t new. They’ve been around for over a decade. The risks and fixes for each are widely known. Yet, many business applications aren’t protected against these common threats.

As data breaches become more prevalent, and the risks of ignoring security continue to rise, we’ll see an even greater focus on security.

“If you keep up with the news at all, the word hacking is something that probably rings alarm bells in your head by now,” says Daniel Otianga, Creative Content Producer/Writer at Rise Programs. “And if it doesn’t… it should. Recent trends indicate that virtually any and every computer system in the world is vulnerable to intrusion by unseen bandits lurking in the shadows. In fact, every new incident of data breaches is so sensational, it’s understandable if anyone is distracted from the big picture of how many people are cumulatively affected by this dilemma. There has never been a more urgent time to become smart about how you share, and protect, sensitive personal information with others.”

2. IoT changes the security landscape

I have bad news, and I have worse news. I’ve already mentioned the bad news above. Security is a growing problem that will create major headaches for businesses in the near future. The worse news: The security landscape is changing.

Let me explain: The Internet of Things (IoT) has picked up steam over the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner estimates that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020.

While the consumer segment accounts for 63% of IoT usage, business usage is on the rise. By Gartner’s estimates, businesses employed nearly 3.1 billion connected things in 2017, with the number expected to rise substantially in 2018.

While these connected devices offer advantages, they also widen the cyberattack surface. But, as mentioned above, businesses still struggle to secure their existing systems and applications. Now, IT departments face the growing challenge of securing the IoT as well.

“IoT is continuing its ever-accelerating march across business markets — in fact, there are already twice as many devices connected to the Internet than there are people on our planet,” says Ed Adams, the president and CEO of Security Innovation. “Due to the lack of security DNA of most organizations going from an offline to a connected world, this creates a massive attack surface. While website hacks can result in PII and monetary theft, attacks on IoT devices can result in personal safety issues where hackers could take control of automobiles, make remote changes to defibrillator or pacemaker settings or compromise energy plants. As a result, security budgets will continue to expand to meet this challenge — In North America, expect to see an additional $1 billion spent on IoT security professional services in 2018.”

3. Fog/Edge computing brings more speed to the cloud

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I remember back a few years ago when debates were raging over cloud computing. Some believed it was the future for business. Others believed it wasn’t a viable business solution.

Fast forward to today, and cloud computing has changed how we store and access data. It has changed the way many businesses operate, and will continue to play an important role in the coming years.

However, cloud computing has some limitations. Namely, it relies on a fast internet connection. This becomes even more important as more data moves to the cloud, and businesses demand faster access. Sooner or later, this limitation will cap the cloud’s capabilities.

This is driving a new technology that aims to bypass the speed hurdle: Fog computing. I won’t get into all of the details here, but here’s a nice article that explains it in more detail. In the coming years, Fog/Edge computing is a technology that you can’t afford to ignore.

4. The balance between governance and self-service becomes critical

In the past, the IT department governed technology and data access. They controlled which software made its way into the business, and who had access to that software. They were in charge of delivering new solutions to the business.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction. Self-service tools have exploded in the business world. More and more, business units purchase and use software on their own–behind the IT department’s back.

The problem is, this creates security risks. If employees (or entire departments) purchase and use third-party solutions, IT has no way of managing and securing that data. To make matters worse, this could have huge ramifications in the world of GDPR (which we mentioned in the first article). If IT cannot monitor data usage, the organization could be in for hefty fines.

Both the IT departments and the business leaders are realizing that neither option is good. The business can’t go back to waiting on IT for all technology needs, yet they can’t bypass IT altogether.

What’s the answer? In the near future, we’ll see these two options merge into a controlled self-service approach. The job of the IT department: Give users the self-service options they need while controlling data and user access.

5. The war for digital talent heats up

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Over the last few years, we’ve seen the massive growth of new technologies. Areas like machine learning, AI, data science, etc… have now become important skills in the business world.

As a result, more businesses face an IT skills gap–a shortfall between the supply of qualified IT professionals and the necessary IT skills.

How bad is it? The research firm, Forrester, found that while 75% of businesses have a digital strategy, only 16% claim to have the skills to deliver it. Another study finds that a whopping 93% of businesses indicate they’re facing a skills shortage.

The big challenge facing CIOs: Address this skills gap while staying current with the ever-changing tech trends. After all, your business won’t stop and wait while you fix the skills gap. The competition won’t take a timeout while you search for modern skills. You must bridge the IT skills gap while operating at full speed.

Summary

In these two articles, we’ve explored 10 IT trends to watch in the near future, but the list could be much longer. Would you like to add to this list? Feel free to comment below!

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