IT service providers can’t afford to gamble on the wrong technology. Such costly mistakes can leave you behind the eight ball and forced to play catch up for years. Finding the right technology is a meticulous process of researching, monitoring, and jumping on the right trends at the right time.
With a new year on the horizon, now is the perfect time to start evaluating what new tech may at last warrant a closer look. This list is based on what research house Gartner views as the top 10 IT trends destined to move the needle through 2016.
1. Devices Further Mesh
According to Gartner, the device mesh is an idea that promotes tighter integration between the gadgets we’re using nowadays to access data and application across the digital space. This crop of appliances not only encompasses what we call traditional mobile devices, but also wearable tech, consumer electronics, and various other devices with a direct line to the internet. The mesh aspect refers to their increasing tendency to communicate and work together.
Gartner anticipates the evolution of technology models that foster even deeper interaction between devices. Right now it’s fairly easy to connect, integrate, and share data between say, an iMac notebook and iPhone. Gartner seems to be hopeful for a landscape that sees machines talking to each other regardless of underlying OS. Any IT trends that offer cross-platform opportunities is worth further investigation.
2. Ambient User Experiences Across Devices
A tighter connection between devices creates new opportunities for user engagement. Gartner calls it the ambient user experience. The ambient user experience aims to deliver connectivity and continuity across the device mesh. So from the virtual server to the tablet, to the social media hub and back to the corporate website, users can expect a fluid, firmly integrated experience as they move from one platform and channel to the next. In a perfect world, the experience is so seamless that the user isn’t aware of the underlying device, app, or service.
The ambient UX sounds like a dream scenario for the user and the business that realizes the importance of engagement. However, there are some potential drawbacks and developing the software needed to drive these enhanced experiences is the biggest challenge of all. On a positive note, IT construction crews are on the job. Gartner projected that software vendors and independent developers will start to see progress in hammering out these experiences by 2018.
3. 3D Printing Innovation
3D printing has been pegged as the hot technology to watch for the past couple of years. Well its back again, this time, however, with even more promise than before. These are exciting times in 3D printing thanks to the discovery of new materials that can be used to create the finished product. Glass, biological materials, nickel alloys, and even food is fair game as 3D printing surfaces. The introduction of new materials should open the eyes of consumers and companies who realize the untapped potential in this market.
Gartner offers yet another sign that 3D printing is in prime season for opportunistic IT vendors. The firm projects that the growing diversity in materials will lead to a 64 percent compound annual growth rate through 2019 for enterprise shipments. The combination of increased printing speed and other functional enhancements with elevated interest from industries such as aerospace, healthcare, and government makes managed 3D printing sound more enticing than ever.
4. Information Is Everything!
Humans and machines alike are generating data at an astounding rate. EMC’s Digital Universe infographic claims that consumers ages 45-59 alone create 1.8 million gigabytes per year. Of course, the enterprise is producing its fair share as well and according to Gartner, the device mesh will continue to play an integral role in the volume of production. The IT trends report suggests that there will be roughly 25 billion devices generating data on everything from turn-by-turn directions to customer preferences by 2020.
There is no shortage of potentially valuable data, but anyone sitting on a terabyte or more knows that actually taming it can be a real burden. Even small businesses are in possession of mountains of info in undermanaged silos they can’t even begin to make sense of,. Gartner believes 2016 will usher in a new wave of data handling technologies that make information easier to classify, analyze, and manage. Whether it’s through graph databases or promising Hadoop alternatives, IT vendors that can help companies maximize their informational assets will be poised to carve out a cozy spot in the big data space.
5. Machine Learning Gets Sophisticated
Smart machines are on the rise and machine learning is at the heart of the revolution. Robots, autonomous cars, and other smart machines rely on machine learning to perform tasks that are traditionally performed by human hands. In general, this technology aims to bolster the intelligence of the underlying hardware, which gradually occurs as software detects and reads patterns in data. While Gartner highlights the rapid evolution of this space as a reason to take notice, machine learning has plenty to offer at the most basic level.
By extending its reach well beyond classic analytics, machine learning is proving to be a valuable asset in the enterprise realm. Organizations benefit from the power to identify trends and patterns across large and diverse sets of data. This is in addition to the ability to automate analytical processes that were traditionally handled by live analysts. From aiding in the delivery of new products to reducing the cost of existing services, machine learning warrants a closer look from IT managers and business leaders.
6. IT Gets “More” Autonomous
Automation may apply to something as simple automatically filtering out spam emails or as complex as managing offsite backup and recovery operations based on predetermined provisioning. Automation is helping companies save precious time, work smarter, and spend less by simply minimizing the need for human intervention and allowing technology to do more of the work. What we’ve seen thus far has been impressive, but the not so distant future looks even brighter.
The IT arena is as primed as any for the integration of advanced automation technology. Right now, service providers have the luxury to deploy virtual assistants that help improve customer service and support. Capable of answering tens of thousands of questions, these autonomous agents learn from human operators so they can stand in as replacements when live personnel is needed elsewhere. Gartner predicts that this space will start to pick up within the next five years with the evolution of intelligent and continue to progress over the next 20 years.
7. Adaptive Security Becomes a Must
By now I’m sure you all heard about the security breach involving the controversial AshleyMadison.com. The adultery-oriented dating service was shamelessly exploited in what turned out to be a classic case of cyber-blackmail. Not only did hackers compromise the very private personal information of 37 million account holders, they threatened to expose those details if a ransom wasn’t forked over, or offered to destroy it for a fee. The attack on Ashley Madison is an example of why Gartner highlighted adaptive security as a chief technology trend.
Adaptive security is an IT security strategy that adapts to the surrounding landscape. In a traditional strategy, you’re constantly making security investments because the more technology you incorporate, the bigger your attack surface becomes. Adaptive security takes a more dynamic approach by automatically adjusting protection based on the number of attack surfaces. I think Gartner put it best when describing it as the need to change the IT security mindset from guard and defend to building self-aware technologies that enable IT systems to protect themselves.
8. Advanced Infrastructures For Advanced Systems
The device mesh, ambient experiences, and sophisticated automation applications demand a high-powered IT infrastructure to support their advanced functionality. One that mimics a human brain more than the CPU that has historically been credited as the brains of the computing operation. This ideal infrastructure requires scalability, speed, and performance that exceeds even the modern day cloud architecture. According to Gartner, the answer to this dream IT environment lies in a set of emerging hardware technologies.
Gartner identified field programmable arrays (FPGAs) and graphic processing units (GPUs) as key components that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s IT architecture. FPGAs offer superior performance in comparison to digital signal processors by controlling I/O at the hardware level. The addition of high-performance GPUs offers scalability benefits that make it possible for machine learning capabilities to be implemented across robust servers or squeezed into smartphones, watches, and other smaller endpoints.
9. Apps and Services Mesh
The days of business apps being hosted exclusively in-house are a thing of the past. Mobile apps and cloud services allow us to access vital IT resources in the office or on the go, yet those applications still suffer from a lack of flexibility and other limitations. The need for more scalable and flexible applications will only grow as the device mesh continues to expand. Gartner is pointing to microservice architecture as the solution to the problem.
The microservice concept aims to deliver the ultimate in flexibility, agility, and performance. In a nutshell, this innovative approach to development focuses on building applications that can be deployed as individual services while retaining their core functionality. So whether a user connects from the office desktop, from a remote server, or on the run from a cloud connection, users are treated to all the application has to offer. The microservice trend is not without concerns, but in theory, it gives IT back-end flexibility and creates ideal user experiences on the front-end.
10. The Internet Is Everything!
The device mesh is a testament to how so insanely huge the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) has become. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets don’t move in droves without their ability to the connect to the internet. The “things” aspect of IoT has evolved to encompass everything from devices that run in your office to appliances that run in your kitchen. With so many of these connected gadgets in circulation, the need for expert support is greater than ever. This is where IT vendors come in handy.
Server administration. Monitoring the network. Securing the parameter. There is a lot of gruelling stuff that must go on behind the scenes in order for the IoT element to flow as smoothly as it often looks and feels. The aforementioned IT trends represent opportunities for service providers that can help organizations find solutions to the associated roadblocks and day to day challenges. And while Gartner seems to view it as a disadvantage for consuming businesses, the lack of IoT standardization could be seen as encouragement for vendors to adopt as many complimenting IT trends as possible – while they still can.