On the Radar and in the Workplace – 3 IT Trends That Matter

12/11/14 11:40 AM iCorps Technologies

Technology_trends_2015

The end of the year always brings plenty of technology predictions and speculation on which advancements are capable of shaping the future of IT. But we know all too well that what’s “hot” in the industry one day can be usurped the next by a shiny new innovation.

Despite the fickleness, we have made the transition from desktops to mobile devices, offices to the local Starbucks, data center to the cloud. So what is next for IT? And how do we prepare without racing to adopt every new innovation or pouring budget – and skills – into potential technology dead-ends?

In order to separate varsity from junior varsity in terms of technology trends, they must meet two important criteria: those that are worthy of watching must exhibit important sticking power and have the ability to transform IT in the way it is procured, consumed, and/or engaged.

Let’s take a look at three viable emerging technology trends through the filter of these criteria:

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) – Supporting “things” is not a new concept for IT, and ultimately, that’s exactly what IoT is about. The term “refers to a collective ofInternet-connected consumer devices, manufacturing systems, business tools, customer service appliances, medical equipment, agricultural sensors, and other things,” explains Deepak Kumar article, Internet of Things May Strangle Enterprise Bandwidth. The founder and CTO of Adaptiva, Kumar cites numbers that are nearly beyond the grasp of comprehension, “IDC predicts that the IoT will grow to 30 billion things by 2020. Cisco expects the IoT’s market value to grow to $14 trillion by 2022.”

IoT, by the way, is already here, so its “sticking power” is evident. Wearable tech, smart car keys, and washing machines with sensors that help diagnose issues remotely are popular consumer examples. In the workplace, Internet-enabled “things” including security cameras, printers, and badge readers likely already are engaged with IT – connected to your network and “busily generating actionable data,” according to the Spiceworks report, The Devices Are Coming! How the “Internet of Things” Will Affect IT…And Why Resistance Is Futile.

Interestingly, while Spiceworks found that although approximately 75% of the IT pros they surveyed believe that IoT will impact the workplace, “only 29% said that they were in the process of getting their network ready for more connected devices.”

“Familiar IT challenges such as security, compliance, application integration, training, support, and budget restrictions will be magnified as if they were bulked up on steroids,” notes Kumar. “The time is now,” says the Spiceworks report, “to brace your infrastructure for the coming IoT impact.” Kumar agrees, and notes, “The best IT decisions don’t happen on waves of hype. They happen according to daily task lists. That’s how the Internet of Things will happen, too…one requirement…one project…and one strategic shift at a time.”

Big Data Analytics Cybertech writer Michael Kassner outlined Gartner’s top 10 technology trends for 2015 in a recent 10 Things column for TechRepublic. According to Gartner, he says, “embedded systems (IoT) will only add to the crush of structured and unstructured data already filling company databases. The amount and variety of data will demand more advanced analytics than are currently available.”

Our thoughts immediately shift to the challenges (storage, security, bandwidth) that this sheer volume of data could present for the average organization. Bernard Marr, CEO of Advanced Performance Institute and best-selling business author, shares 25 Need to Know Facts about Big Data rife with mind-blowing facts about big amounts of digital data – measured now in zettabytes.

But the key to big data as a trend is really anchored in how we utilize the data that’s relevant to us as an organization or a society. In its bank of online customer success stories, big data technology pioneer Cloudera offers tangible examples of how big data is consumed in a range of real-world applications – from analyzing consumer and user behavior to assessing veteran suicide risk.

To be sure, big data and the growing analytics capabilities have sticking power, and continue to promise tremendous opportunity and value for fueling well-informed business decisions.

Cloud Computing Escalating data volumes and growing user bases can quickly tax an organization’s infrastructure.

While cloud computing has its own challenges – such as IT’s concerns with giving up control of management and security – this technology continues to grow more entrenched as a viable alternative for procuring services outside of the traditional datacenter. The cloud’s agile delivery model supports access from anywhere from any device, boosts productivity, and responds with elastic scalability to the shifting needs of organizations.

According to RightScale’s 2014 State of the Cloud Report,  94% of the companies surveyed already are using the cloud in some way, and 29% of those cloud-adopting companies are using public cloud such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, VMware’s vCloud Air, and Microsoft Azure. In terms of public cloud usage, Amazon Web Services leads with 54% adoption.

Possibly the most compelling aspect, though, is where these three trends converge. Increasing numbers of “things” (IoT) feeding data into your network can quickly tax bandwidth, storage, and slow productivity. The cloud’s scalable infrastructure not only can meet increasing storage and processing demands, but also can deliver the massive computing power needed to crunch big data numbers.

Chuck Romine, director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), explains the potential: "The cloud can make big data accessible to those who can't take advantage today. In turn, big data opens doors to discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship that are inaccessible at conventional data scales."

Amazon Web Services today offers the best of these worlds with its Revolution R Enterprise (RRE) “the fastest, most cost effective Big Data Big Analytics platform available today…Supporting a variety of Big Data statistics, predictive modeling, and machine learning capabilities…”

IoT, big data analytics, and cloud computing all exist today – and each has an impact on how IT is procured, consumed, and/or engaged. Time will have to tell, though, how these trends ultimately will shape the future of IT.