Last week, we went ahead and made our first round of 2011 IT tech trends, from tablets to big data. Now we present what we think will be the real big drivers for change in IT tech. Have something else to add? Let us know in the comments!
5. Social suits up. Social networking can be a huge boon for getting work done: Look at all the great answers IT Knowledge Exchange generates, thanks to an amazingly talented community. Seeing those benefits throughout the corporate world is a no-brainer, until you look at potential costs in data leakage, lost productivity (how do you separate the FarmVilles from the productive stuff that goes on? Not as easy as you’d think), and more. The social media gurus have been extolling it, and the security professionals have been slamming it for years (every time Facebook comes up at a security conference, I can literally hear the eyes roll). In 2011, both the benefits and the losses are too potentially high to ignore, particularly with WikiLeaks exposing just how vulnerable your data is in the connected enterprise.
4. 4G networks boot up. 4G has been “here” since I started at TechTarget, three and a half years ago. And by “here” I mean, “available in select cities, if the wind is right.” Things have changed, and it’s “here here” now, and I fully expect the competition and features from Spring, Verizon and AT&T to dramatically change how we approach mobile connectivity. Wait, did I say AT&T? Don’t hold your breath: While 4G deployments are scheduled to go live in 2011, delays, bugs and “select markets” are all par for the course. Don’t count the eggs before they’ve hatched, so look to Sprint and Verizon to be playing hardball in this arena as AT&T plays catch up (I recently heard their spot, “the fastest mobile network, period.” Huh?).
Though T-Mobile is awfully cute with their own 4G claims, they’re not doing much more than confusing the market on this issue.
3. Security gets spotlight … but maybe not the budget. Security has always been one of the most fascinating areas in IT to me, but as a line-item on the budget, it’s regularly underfunded, overlooked and ignored. Well, the conversations are going to shift, if WikiLeaks makes good on its promise to expose a major bank’s dirty laundry. While Bank of America is fingered as the likely target, it probably won’t matter as top execs around the country watch their fellows have every secret exposed. That’s a wake up call.
One angle I haven’t seen in the press, though: This is already happening, every day. If our Russian counterparts didn’t already have access to the trove of released cables, I would be shocked. What’s embarrassing about this situation is not that data was leaked (even the NSA considers itself compromised as a matter of course), but that it is so publicly and humiliatingly done. Execs will be pressing security teams for assurances that it won’t happen here, but I don’t expect the budgets or willpower to follow through. Poor InfoSec.
2. Apps for all. I honestly don’t know how IT is going to deal with this one: We’re seeing an explosion in point-solution apps, tailored management and dashboard tools, and web widgets that knowledge workers are incorporating into their daily lives as part of the work/play balance. I do it, and so do a lot of other users. It can really boost productivity, a lot of it is inexpensive, and it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, at first. Then you start getting support calls on some freeware that you’ve never seen. Or you end up having to find a management solution that can control 7 different mobile operating systems, including offering remote wipe for devices that don’t have remote wipe.
And remember, no one wants to be the next WikiLeaked company. IT will have to start developing common sense policies that embrace our appy world – from iTunes apps to Facebook apps and PC freeware – that stresses education and self-service, mitigating risks while being flexible enough for users to get their job done.
1. The economy. I’m still seeing reports of 20% underemployment, which is staggering. It affects our workplaces – more temporary employees, more stress, more uncertainty. But it’s also one the IT crowd is at the forefront on: While IT is rarely regarded as the hero, it is directly responsible for such a huge percentage of productivity boosts over the past decades, that I can’t help but believe that the smart application of technology can help weather this storm. It won’t be easy, and budgets will stay trim in a lot of places, making it a tricky year all around, but particularly in IT where budget review has always been a tough proposition.