The New Year is upon us, and with it comes forecasts and predictions for the year ahead. What technology trends will impact your business in 2017? We’ve been keeping an eye out for the most authoritative and relevant analysis of IT topics. Here is a digest of what we found that should be on your radar—they certainly are on ours.
Some consistent themes emerged. The Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) were all mentioned in multiple articles. Although some of these trends are more related to consumer technology at this stage, they all have the potential to influence business IT.
This is a deep, rich resource with charts and segmentation on what enterprise IT leaders are thinking for 2017. Here are just a few highlights:
- Shift to cloud services continues — IT buyers will spend more on hardware and software than other areas, but slightly less compared to 2016. Budgets will shift to cloud-based services: “38% of IT pros consider it very or extremely important to their current business practices” up from 29% last year.
- Online backup/recovery grows — IT buyers say they’ll spend more on cloud backup and recovery in 2017, as a percentage of hosted/cloud-based investments.
- Security is still top priority — However, the surveyed revealed that cloud services, training and development, and mobility are all on the rise.
- 3D printing, IoT, AI all top trends — Spiceworks scanned its community, and these are the hottest topics, with VR and Intelligent Assistants also noted.
- Adoption of IT automation and hyperconverged technologies on the rise — IT buyers report an increase in the usage of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Columnist Simon Bisson dives deep into Microsoft’s plans for cloud, Windows Server 2016, Windows 10, and other more technical topics, but two topics are relevant for every organization:
Collaboration — This theme emerged in 2016, and will only accelerate in 2017—and it is in no way isolated to Microsoft. “People need to work together,” Bisson writes. “Building on the tools in Office 365 and Skype, and with strong competition from Google’s G Suite platform and third-party tools like Slack [emphasis mine]…Microsoft is quickly moving to supporting these scenarios.…I expect to see quick changes in Microsoft Teams, opening up to users outside corporate Office 365 installs.”
Passwords and identity authentication — As you will see below, security issues abound, but Bisson predicts some interesting development from Microsoft, which naturally impacts many companies. “Identity has long been a big problem facing enterprises, and by bringing together LinkedIn and Azure Active Directory, Microsoft now has an opportunity to expand its security model away from devices to people—a model that makes more sense in a world where people use multiple devices and multiple operating systems.” Bisson also highlights intelligence-based security used by Windows Defender and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection and other tools, to better understand how malware flows and identify phishing messages. He also raises the prospect for password-less tools, such as FIDO (Fast Identity Online) in Windows 10 and Edge browser, and support for Windows Hello biometrics in applications as an alternative sign-in method.
Gartner highlights three trends related to AI and machine learning, which it notes “have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application.”
- AI & Advanced Machine Learning — “…Systems can learn and change future behavior, leading to the creation of more intelligent devices and programs. The combination of extensive parallel processing power, advanced algorithms and massive data sets to feed the algorithms has unleashed this new era.” Gartner says organizations should “…evaluate a number of business scenarios in which AI and machine learning could drive clear and specific business value and consider experimenting with one or two high-impact scenarios.”
- Intelligent Apps — “…Every existing software category from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP will be infused with AI enabled capabilities. Using AI, technology providers will focus on three areas — advanced analytics, AI-powered and increasingly autonomous business processes and AI-powered immersive, conversational and continuous interfaces.”
- Intelligent Things — “New intelligent things generally fall into three categories: robots, drones and autonomous vehicles,” but Gartner notes that “…IoT devices will become intelligent things delivering the power of AI enabled systems everywhere including the home, office, factory floor, and medical facility.” Devices will begin to communicate and act in concert, but issues such as liability and privacy will slow embedded intelligence in some scenarios.
Gartner also identified two important trends that can help you think strategically about evolving technologies:
Digital Technology Platforms — “Every organization will have some mix of five digital technology platforms: Information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the Internet of Things and business ecosystems.…Companies should identify how industry platforms will evolve and plan ways to evolve their platforms to meet the challenges of digital business.”
Adaptive Security Architecture — “…security has to become fluid and adaptive. Security in the IoT environment is particularly challenging. Security teams need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects to consider security early in the design of applications or IoT solutions. Multilayered security and use of user and entity behavior analytics will become a requirement for virtually every enterprise.”
Although TechTarget is for the Big IT datacenter crowd, Milind Govekar, a managing VP at Gartner, flagged a few trends that are worth exploring in 2017.
Data segregation — With workforces and customers all going mobile, the IT service desk needs to keep up with how to manage data when everyone brings their own device. Data segregation isolates personal and business data and applications from each other on the same device, should be on your technology roadmap.
Bimodal IT — This is a strategic approach to IT that maintains traditional practices (“keeping the lights on and the servers humming”) while simultaneously introducing innovative new processes, similar to some concepts in application development. “Find ways to get close to customers,” writes TechTarget.
Business value dashboards — “By 2017, the majority of infrastructure and operations teams will use dashboards to communicate with the outside world.” Does your IT? The business-value dashboard serves a different purpose from IT metrics, and will help IT speak the same language as business leaders.
Organizational disruption — “Shadow IT”, in which business users steer around IT to gain agility (but also expose it to a myriad of security and data privacy risks, among others), is being embraced by some companies to track performance like a proof-of-concept trial.
Although this article focused on consumer technologies reshaping society—AR, VR, AI, smart clothes and even smarter autonomous vehicles among them—it also raised critical issues around security, privacy and biometrics:
2017 may be biometric security’s breakout year. We’ll use our fingers, faces, eyes, heartbeats and even activity patterns to unlock technology and protect our finances and privacy. By 2018, anyone who doesn’t use a body part to unlock technology will be viewed as a reckless oddball.
Encryption will continue its spread throughout mobile and communication technology, even as the incoming administration pressures companies to break into devices as law enforcement’s request. Will there be a very public battle about backdoor technologies in 2017? Probably.
What are your strategic IT priorities for 2017 and beyond? How do you hope to harness technology for your business? If you have ideas or even just questions about what some of these trends might mean for your organization, we would love to talk.