Joe Stangarone | June 16, 2015

5 Important IT Trends of 2015 and Beyond

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 such trends to watch in the near future.

Driven by evolving technology, the IT department is changing. As Gartner states, “Digital technologies — mobile, social, big data and cloud — are disrupting businesses everywhere by revolutionizing the role technology plays in our everyday lives.”

As the role of technology evolves, so does the role of the IT department. Technology plays a larger role in the business than ever before. This shift is transforming the IT department from a back office function into a key business driver.

The most successful IT departments are those that recognize and adapt to these changes.

How is the IT department changing in the near future? What trends can we expect? Here are 5 important IT trends of 2015 and beyond:

1. Pervasive analytics takes center stage

As explained in this article, modern business have more data than they realize. They have growing amounts of structured and unstructured data, much of which goes unused.

This data holds amazing potential for the modern business. It can uncover problems within the organization. It can highlight new ways to reach customers. It can lead to efficiency improvements.

However, if not stored and analyzed this data is worthless.

The challenge for IT departments: Making sense of this data, and making it accessible to those who need it. They must give users a way to access and analyze this data whenever (and wherever) they need.

“Since the volume of business data worldwide is growing exponentially, it becomes more challenging for companies to manage and analyze huge amounts of structured and unstructured information coming from various sources,” says Michael Fimin, CEO and co-founder of Netwrix. “We expect that central stage will soon be taken by technologies that enable comprehensive analysis of big data and help businesses quickly find the source of IT problems. Today’s auditing software partially fulfills this task, providing actionable data about who did what, where and when, and who has access to what in companies’ IT environment. We believe that in future these solutions will not only deliver visibility across all levels of IT infrastructure, but will also carry out root-cause analysis and answer exact questions of IT professionals, e.g. what was the reason of a security violation or why companies’ systems faced downtime.”

2. Data security becomes everyone’s job

As employees rely on mobile devices, and SaaS adoption grows, data control is shifting. More and more data is moving outside of the IT department’s control. End users play a larger role in data security than ever before.

The problem: Users have horrible security habits. As mentioned in this article, research finds that internal employees are the biggest threat to your data. While some are malicious, most internal breaches are accidental. Others occur when employees try to bypass security measures.

What does this mean for IT departments? If you want to better protect your data in the future, cyber security training must become a necessity.

“Cyber Security Awareness and Training should be a fundamental security practice but too few organizations consider it fundamental with only 50% of companies actually performing security education. Of that 50%, a significant percentage of companies consider video-based or slide presentations as effective training. Research has shown that passive training like this is not as effective as interactive training for improving knowledge and ultimately changing end user behavior,” said Joe Ferrara, President and CEO of Wombat Security Technologies.

3. Small vendors make life hard for the industry giants

Over the past few years, we’ve seen new companies rise up and disrupt industries of all types. For instance, we’ve seen Warby Parker change the eyeglasses industry. Companies like Casper and Tuft & Needle are changing the mattress industry. The list could go on.

What are these companies doing? They find stagnant industries that are ripe for a change. In these industries, consumers want better options, but have none. These companies recognize the problems, and give consumers what they want.

We’re seeing this happen in the IT industry as well. The traditional IT industry giants are known for their high costs, slow speed, and (in many cases) vendor lock-in. We’re seeing small vendors challenge the status quo–giving businesses the speed, pricing structure, and flexibility they want.

“Given the current disillusionment of corporations with big name IT consultancies, many Goliaths will fall to Davids,” says Mary Brittain-White, CEO of Retriever Communications. “CIOs will look past industry Big Names to smaller innovative vendors with fresh go-to-market models that can capture the market’s imagination and provide the short, low cost implementations that are specific to their company’s needs.”

4. The physical workplace becomes less relevant

Smartphone adoption is still on the rise. The vast majority of enterprise applications have moved to the web. The result: Modern business has become less and less dependant on physical location. More businesses are giving employees the option to work remotely.

What does this mean for IT? We’re moving to an era where employees need instant data access from anywhere on any device. They must be able to work anywhere. Do your applications run on (and adapt to) any device? If not, this must become a top priority in the near future.

“Mobile will reign supreme and the expectation that employees should be able to do the work on a tablet or smartphone will become the dominant innovation in companies for the next 5 years,” says Brittain-White. “Work is no longer a place but an activity occurring in different places at different times, leading to increased employee adoption of mobile solutions to get jobs done. There’s little doubt, mobile devices will become superior business tools accepted by the masses.”

5. More responsibilities move outside of IT

A recent study finds that 93% of businesses indicate there’s a skills gap. The bigger problem? It’s only growing worse.

After all, IT must keep the business technology running smoothly, while keeping up with changing trends. They must be development experts. They’re in charge of data security. They must integrate disparate data sources. They must make sense of rapidly expanding data volumes.

Unless the organization can afford to hire experts in every area, it’s a near impossible task. For that reason, we’ll see more of these functions move to outside providers, letting IT focus their efforts on creating business value.

“IT staff are realizing that they can’t be experts in everything,” says Kurt Simione, Owner and Founder of Technology Seed. “Data security requires the expertise the lies with a security vendor. PCI compliance and HIPAA compliance require specialized outside firms to audit and create a remediation list. Network monitoring requires tools and people that know how to use them correctly. For most businesses, keeping that type of talent in-house in nearly impossible. The move to outside vendors is typically more affordable and better suited to today’s changing IT.”

Summary

Now, these are just 5 important IT trends you can expect to see in the near future, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be covering more important IT trends in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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