Technology is changing immensely fast, and corporate IT expectations were very different five years ago than they are today. Five years ago, cloud computing and virtualization were young ideas, mobile computing was becoming mainstream, and companies were aggressively outsourcing overseas. We’ve listened to conversations for what we think are ten predicted IT trends that will affect our customers and will shape the SMB/enterprise IT industry.
1. Cloud computing – First released as an IT strategic trend in 2009 by Gartner, Inc., cloud computing still makes the list. Symantec predicts more security services will be pushing signatures through the cloud, and according to Morgan Stanley, nearly one-third of workloads are based off the cloud. It’s an easy way to run applications without increasing your hardware, or if you use Quartet’s QBlock, run applications without physically touching hardware at all.
2. Virtualization – “Virtualization turns a disparate set of servers into a single pool of computing resources that can be adjusted on the fly.” Now, companies are virtualizing so much more, from desktops, applications, servers, networks and storage.
3. Computing everywhere – There will be an increased focus on serving the needs of the person using a mobile device, rather than focusing on the device itself. Applications are already embedded in mobiles, vehicles, wearables, and in smart offices. Now, the needs must to adapt to the user experience, and there will be an inherent “loss of control” over the management challenges over user endpoint devices.
4. The Internet of Things – It’s been talked about for the last four years, but it’s more prevalent now than ever before. We are digitizing everything – streams and services – into four basic usage patterns: manage, monetize, operate and extend. Assets and services are moving rapidly into pay-per-use models. An unsurpassable amount of services and technology around us communicates with networks and compiles data points, thus morphing our offices, our products and services into interconnected environments, where one piece of technology will respond appropriately to another according to the person’s request. As a result, IT has to manage all these touch points. Businesses need to learn how to take advantage of these assets, and use it to propel further solutions.
5. New IT Buyers – Non-IT departments are now making their own IT purchasing decisions. This is allowing them the willingness to experiment with different IT solutions with less budget restrictions.
6. Web-based Sales – Since 2006, there have been articles about making purchases directly through a website, without the use of a sales person. Think of giant e-commerce retailers, applications and products. This method is an easier way of getting the solution into the hands of the consumer without having to populate a sales force.
7. More thorough Security – Companies need to think about layered protection now. It’s not simply antivirus and antispam, but rather, encrypted file transfers, protected firewalls, secure networks and endpoint monitoring. Security threats are disturbing the industry, hacking vulnerabilities and cleverly making its ways into corporate networks. It’s not just about protecting your organization, but rather, protecting your organization’s data.Gartner elevates the concept of thorough security by saying organizations will soon start positioning their security according to risk assessments. However, applications will also be developed with security-aware designs that would be managed through access controls, ie. applications would have security built into them, creating another protective layer after perimeters and firewalls. “Land and expand” sales model – Think “freemium” products, where you can trial a service for two weeks before purchasing. Consumers want to know there is value in their investments. Open source technology is now allowing more organizations to test this model to push the sales funnel. Data as the new competitive advantage – We’ve been tracking our analytics to improve the services we provide to our customers, to make sure we meet our SLAs, and to track the effectiveness of our business models. Data allows organizations to track patterns to promote sales and improve workflows. At the same time, our customers want to see data – their upload times, response time and if we’re meeting their service levels. There is a demand for applications to provide analytics, and organizations have to know how to filter the data “and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time.” Consumer quality interfaces – Whether it is an application, a website or a report, they must be intuitive to use and easy to read. Interfaces are improving, and we spend more time on our mobiles. The information must be accessible, and easily.