IT management in 2020
IT is changing in a lightning-fast pace. And no matter how unimaginable it seems, it will be changing even faster as the computing power grows and speeds up. The huge progress in business achieved thanks to technology is visible in a glance. At first, it was driven by mainframe computers, to be later replaced with PCs. Other revolutionary changes came with the widespread use of the internet. Today it is mobility that changes the world of business. What comes next?
It seems that not all technologies or trends are important to corporate IT. A lot depends on the industry, profile of the company or the products and services on offer. However, their influence on business is always worth estimating. Companies such as Google or Facebook which, a while ago, were not much more than student startups, today are the main players in the market. There are or will be competitors that will not only take over your customers or force you to change your business model, but also will hire your best employees. And it should not be forgotten that technology changes the habits and expectations of ordinary people. Some of them are your existing or future customers.
Below is a list of trends that will shape IT system management in companies.
Company in a cloud
As cloud computing platforms become more widely used, the model of software usage in a company will undergo a complete change. According to directors of technology from the world's largest IT companies, such as HP or Hitachi Data System, the increasing popularity of cloud data processing will isolate applications from hardware platforms. Virtually all business support functions in a company (invoicing, holiday registration, business trip settlement) will be available in the form of fully customizable services.As a result, traditional PCs and servers will be used as containers for handling virtualized working environments, connecting functions of public clouds with those of the secure private clouds developed in-house. This will allow for a free integration of information resources, according to the needs and financial capabilities of the company.
An unstoppable trend. It is driven by widespread access to mobile broadband internet on the one side and the ever-enhancing capabilities of mobile devices on the other. Mobile devices have created completely new channels of communication, sales and employee supervision. Because of that, while preparing their plans and strategies, corporate IT departments need to mind the fact that customers will more and more often use their mobile devices to interact with companies. The potential of this trend can also be used internally to the benefit of the employees. This also requires providing a suitable infrastructure that would allow managing and controlling mobile devices.
Social media have conquered the world. The source of their popularity lies in our need to be part of a community. The popular social media have facilitated it in a completely new way. Employee expectations of a similar simplicity of interactions within the company, in their working environment, makes IT face the need to plan, select and implement solutions that would enable it. This, on the one hand, requires adjustments of the basic customer service applications interface, so that it is in line with the typical pattern of the largest social networks. On the other hand, the new channel of contacts needs to be properly managed, information coming through the channel must be filtered and data – often unstructured – need to be analyzed.
The Internet of Things
The vast potential of M2M communication in the industry, logistics and safety sectors is already visible. Smart ICT or transmission networks, route tracking for vehicles and loads and monitoring systems. The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect even more devices and use even more communications technologies. Analyst firm Gartner anticipates that until 2020, as many as 30 million of such devices will be in use. Data delivered by the increasing number of internet connected devices need to be collected and processed. Think how to face this challenge today. Should I use a cloud services provider? Or maybe I should invest in my own infrastructure?
Business analytics in real time
Processing huge data sets in real time is already possible today. However, as the technology becomes more popular, the rules of the market game will change. Marketing strategies, sales activities or shortly: all decisions will be adjustable within a few hours and not weeks or months, as it is today – right after receiving a collective report. That is the theory. In practice, everything will depend on whether the CIO and his/her department, along with all other business parties involved, will be able to find the appropriate application of this promising technology and prepare the company's IT to support it. The greatest challenge for IT departments will be to integrate data and information flowing from analytics systems in real time with other business applications used in the company.
The increasing presence of IT technologies in all aspects of business will require ensuring data exchange security both for companies and individual users. The area of security management practices (i.e. better alignment of audits to the patterns of device usage or development of methodologies that provide efficient protection of mobile devices) is facing a particularly dynamic development.
The bigger the dependence on technology, automation and continuous uptime, the higher the vulnerability to incidents, including cyber espionage and even sabotage. In order to face this challenge, security solutions will need to be applied on the level of data delivered via cloud to all platforms that use sensitive data, i.e. in the Encryption-as-a-Service model. Users will not designate rights for each application separately, but instead, they will indicate the types and groups of applications to access given data, which will require rethinking of the company IT system integration methods.
New role, new competencies
All forecasted trends, apart from influencing the way companies operate, require considering the future career paths for IT department employees. Is the IT team big enough? Are its members equipped with appropriate skills to use the potential of IoT, mobility and real time analytics? The nature of working in IT will change. More extensive use of the cloud will add to the responsibilities of IT specialists, as it will require managing services delivered via cloud computing platforms as well as relations with the providers of such services.
As the prominent Danish physicist Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Predicting precisely what will be the role of IT specialists in companies within 5 years is a breakneck endeavor. However, no matter what the future holds, we can assume with a high degree of probability that it will be shaped by a few trends we have already known for some time. This fact makes it a little easier to prepare for the changes that time will bring.