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 5 trends to watch in the near future.
Over the last few years, the world of enterprise technology has changed significantly. Digital technologies have evolved. Rising data volumes have changed the way businesses operate. It seems like new technologies are constantly emerging.
As data grows and technology advances, the role of the IT department evolves. 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 2019 and beyond.
1. Regulation and governance around data
Data volumes have risen dramatically over the past few years or so, and show no signs of stopping. As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, modern businesses will have more data than ever before.
The problem: Collecting data is easy. Managing that data is a bit more difficult. Over the next few years, we’ll see a major push towards data regulation and governance. This will be driven by a couple of factors:
1. The New EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became official almost a year ago. GDPR provides strict guidelines on how organizations use and protect personal data. That means IT departments must understand where sensitive data is located, how it’s protected, and who has access to the data. It also means that organizations must disclose a personal data breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.
GDPR applies to any organization that does business in the EU. But, many believe it’s just the beginning. Other countries will follow suit, making data regulation and governance even more important.
2. Data breaches are on the rise, and are only getting worse. It’s estimated that the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, and that number grows every year. With the rising risks and costs of data breaches, business leaders have little choice but to place greater emphasis on data security.
Together, these factors are driving the need for regulation and governance. Over the next few years, businesses will place more emphasis on understanding what data they have, where it’s located, and how it’s secured.
“I think the biggest trend that’s worth watching is regulation and governance around data,” says Emad Hanna, Founder of CyberStockroom. “There have been some high profile data breaches over the past few years that have raised a lot of questions. Whether its government data, social media data, or financial data there are a lot of questions being asked right now around privacy and the role IT plays in society. Governance around this issue could radically transform the way data centered IT operates in the future.”
2. Conversational interfaces
Here’s a surprising fact: Smart speaker adoption is growing faster than any technology since the smartphone. The fact is, we’re in the early stages of the voice revolution. Voice interfaces are the next big thing, and it’s no secret. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are investing heavily in voice technology.
The challenge facing modern CIOs and IT leaders: How can you take advantage of voice technology? How can you implement voice interfaces into your business/products/services? It’s the next wave of UX, and cannot be ignored in the coming years.
“One trend advancing quickly in 2019 is conversational interfaces on both mobile and web,” says Clare Bittourna, Marketing Designer at Codal. “AI chatbots and voice-activated interfaces are going to force designers and developers to think about mobile experiences in a whole new way. Conversational interfaces have been incorporated into websites and applications in many different ways; your website’s chatbot, the way the user fills out your contact form, the way that consumers find answers, and more. Developers will need to understand the various tools that are available to them to develop robust conversational interfaces, designers need to be well-versed in how to “design” an interface with no graphical component, and marketers will need to adjust their strategy to cater to these new trends.”
In today’s business environment, agility is more important than ever. Why? This article in Forbes sums it up nicely:
“In today’s market, not only is change happening quickly, it’s forcing businesses themselves to change quickly. It’s a constant flow of innovation, disruption — and sometimes chaos — that is moving us ahead, even faster than we ever imagined. Many say agility is the key to surviving in the age of technological hairpin turns. In fact, 68% of companies identify agility as one of their most important initiatives.”
To meet these demands, we’re seeing an increased push towards automation. Businesses are putting technology and processes together to eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks.
“An upcoming trend that may be unsettling for IT professionals who are settled in their ways is automation,” says Frank Diaz. President of Ōmzig, Inc. “Machine creation and provisioning services technology have been around for years. With the impending explosion of VDI on the horizon (coincidentally, the name of a popular VDI application produced by VMware) and other cloud-based services (I’ll refer to it the whole application stack as the cloud for simplicity’s sake), automation will be the technology that can upend an IT professional’s career.
Machine deployment is just one example of what automation can do for the IT professional when what used to be manual processes like patching, inventory management, managing RBAC and the other tedious day to day tasks can now be orchestrated from the top down. One of the great pains in deploying large quantities of machines is making sure that each computer contains the same operating system (build included), necessary drivers, required applications, and network/domain membership and verification of the PC’s likeness across the board. No small feat when dealing with hundreds or thousands of machines. This does not even include the time it takes to provision the multitude of machines once it’s been decided what will go on it and how to track it. That’s yet another hurdle in the deployment process. However, with automation systems such as MCS, PVS, runbooks leveraging the technology of open source software like Ansible or proprietary technologies with Citrix Provisioning Services or Microsoft Azure’s aptly named Automation, the ability exists to run the exact same tasks an unlimited number of times with minimal supervision by the overworked and underappreciated systems admin.”
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 point). 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. IOT-related Edge computing
Edge computing has been an “emerging technology” for the last couple of years or so. What is Edge computing? In short, Edge computing is computing that’s done at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud’s centralized data centers to handle everything. In case you want to learn more, here’s a great article that describes it in more detail.
Why should pay attention to this trend in the coming years?
There are two big reasons: 5G and IoT. The growth of these two technologies is driving Edge Computing into the mainstream.
Let me explain: 5G (which is roughly 20x faster than 4G) is set to arrive in the very near future. Since it delivers much faster speed, 5G will drive the growth of connected devices. Together, this creates an influx of data that will drive the need for edge computing. This article in NetworkWorld sums it up perfectly: “The influx of additional data – which will need to be processed in real-time – will drive the need for edge computing. Recognized by many as the next significant enterprise tech trend after cloud computing, edge computing refers to infrastructure that enables data processing as close to the source as possible. It allows for faster processing of data, reducing latency and improving customer experiences.”
“Already, some 3.6 billion devices are part of the Internet of Things,” says Adnan Raja, Vice President of Marketing for Atlantic.Net. “This number will skyrocket when 5G technology is released sometime in 2019. Edge computing is the great equalizer for overworked data centers across the country. The relative lack of security in place for most IOT devices makes it a must to equip edge computing with adequate security to keep data secure and devices corruption-free.”
These are just 5 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!