It looks to be yet another significant year for the IT sector worldwide. Tech association CompTIA projects a 5 percent global growth for the industry in 2018, and if everything goes as planned, it can even increase to 7 percent or more.
CompTIA recently released its “IT Industry Outlook 2018," which looks at the trend of emerging technologies and how they’re impacting the IT landscape. It’s important to track, as IDC found global IT spending will top $4.8 trillion in 2018, and the U.S. is expected to account for $1.5 trillion of it.
As organizations note the opportunities with rising customer demands for new and emerging products, they need to beware of the accompanying challenges.
So, the report highlights 12 trends that will potentially shape the IT business in 2018, and how organizations can proactively plan for the digital future.
Democratization of Technology Leads to Breakthrough Models
Democratization can disrupt industries and social behaviors. The tools for building tech are becoming more accessible, and it’s lowering the bar for creating new applications. Open source concepts allow more people to build applications around tech like blockchain or natural language processing and continuously learn.
Cloud Enters New Phase of Maturity
Typical cloud adoption starts with noncritical use for day-to-day applications. Now, organizations are ready to move into full production with less restrictions on the type of apps that can live in the cloud. The final stage is transformed IT, where the architecture is rebuilt to maximize cloud capabilities. It’s less technical and more workflow oriented, but can cause more challenges.
Internet of Things Expands Technology Footprints
IoT devices are making their way into corporate spaces, but the low cost of those gadgets doesn’t reflect the cost of system maintenance and optimization. Adding digital capabilities to everyday components will increase the range of IT responsibilities, and the need for new skills to perform them. Automation will help, but IoT strategies can complicate the shift of IT functions.
Artificial Intelligence Adds New Layer to Solution Stack
Tech demands grow more specific as solutions get more complex, but the answer isn’t always to add resources. Rather, leverage benefits of modern tech. AI’s compute resources can be procured in the cloud, its algorithms for learning can be baked into products or provided as a service, and contextual data can come from IoT devices and data. Add a layer of intelligence to the solution you’re building.
Businesses Adjust to New Normal of Security
The rise of security incidents won't change in 2018, but there will be subtle shifts in the way companies approach security. They’re already investing in technology to defend, but to detect and respond to breaches quickly, focus on business processes to enhance security (like end-user training).
Growing Up: Tech May No Longer be Given the Benefit of the Doubt
Historically, the benefits of tech allowed us to overlook the occasional hiccups, but expectations are changing. Questions around security, privacy and screen time are intensifying, as are those around market concentration and power imbalances of gatekeepers. Negative reports on the culture of the industry are coming to light, and advances in AI and automation will likely intensify this level of scrutiny.
Insights Economy Comes Into Focus
Advances in sensors, computing power and storage are enabling mass collections of all kinds of data, feeding the insights economy. Machine learning is turning data into data-driven activities like computer vision and predictive analytics, which already account for a sizable portion of global GDP. But there will be tradeoffs. Better insights leads to more data, and the aggregator of that data holds immense power, which can create data-divides. Data privacy and ethical concerns also come into play.
Businesses Race to Upgrade Digital Expertise in Boardroom
Aligning technology to meet business objectives continues to be a challenge. Tech initiatives involve many moving parts, including the people and process. Having tech-savvy C-suite and boardroom folks is important, including board-level engagement with cybersecurity and data governance.
‘New Collar’ Jobs Mindset Gains Momentum, but Challenges Persist
This refers to the changing nature of middle-skill jobs and the need for new ways of training and preparing the workforce. This trend will accelerate as tech intersects with all aspects of economy and supply chains. It’ll reshape jobs and create new ones, requiring skill-centered education and training approaches. But it will take proving success in building a new collar jobs pipeline to get buy-in from students, parents and employers.
Online Marketplace: Friend or Foe of Channel
Vendors like Amazon and Microsoft leverage their own online marketplaces to aggregate technology goods and services as a one-stop-shop for customers. In 2018, these “IT shopping malls” will only grow, which can be bad news for distribution channels. With options for customers to buy tech directly online, there’s less need for an intermediary. However, savvy IT consultants find ways to exploit these marketplaces as an extension of what they offer, something channels can leverage.
Subscription Pricing Gets Harder to Figure Out
A new accounting rule that took effect in December requires contract-based software solutions that include maintenance, security and implementation services to be broken into individual transactions. So, figuring out how to price these bits and pieces will be a challenge for cloud service providers.
Primed and Ready for As-a-Service World
The cloud is enabling an as-a-service world. Any type of tech solution can be delivered, like power utility services, but it’s getting more complicated with the amount of disruptive tech entering the as-a-service arena (drones-as-a-service or AI-as-a-service, for example). As customers get used to buying emerging tech as a service, providers will need to make sure they are up to speed, and will need the proper skills training and workforce development to do it.
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