Five Tech Trends That Will Reshape IT in 2018, Part 1

This is part 1 of our Tech Trends of 2018 series. To read the rest, click here.

2018 will be a year of acceleration as IT professionals and business leaders adapt to higher data demands, increasing bandwidth requirements, and loftier customer expectations. Consumption trends that emerged years ago will reach a critical mass in the near-term, making IT adjustment an urgent matter for many businesses.     

 

An infographic showing technology trends for 2018. There are lots of little bubbles connected by lines, with various facts that can be found within the paper.

There are five upcoming changes that that will likely have the biggest impact on day-to-day operations of the IT and business executive this year. Understanding these trends will help decision-makers make changes that will be more cost-effective and easier to manage in the long-term.

 

Trend #1: Elevated Importance of IT Shifts Business Priorities

 

IT resources are more organizationally in-demand than ever before, leading to a scramble for solutions that lets IT re-focus on strategic initiatives rather than routine management. IT is no longer bounded to its own space, and increasingly is working across all departments to implement technologies like automation, business intelligence, and various software integrations.

As such, IT opportunity costs are increasing, and many low-level tasks are being outsourced. By the end of 2018, spending on IT-as-a-Service for data centers, software and services will be $547B, according to a report by Deloitte Consulting. In this timeframe, Deloitte expects increased spending on new IT technologies through 2022, from $361B to $547B. Outsourced IT will represent more than half of this spending.

During this shift, services that have been on the fringe of IT departments, such as telephony management, will continue to lose ground to hosted solutions. Unified communications are increasingly attractive solutions to IT departments looking to streamline and hand off telecommunications, and the technology is garnering larger percentages of IT budgets.

However, IT professionals need not feel threatened by outsourcing, automation, IT-as-a-service, or hosted services. These tactics are shifting, rather than shrinking, the demand for IT expertise, according to a salary guide survey of more than 8,000 technology professionals by Robert Half Technology. Workers who are willing to learn new skills will be more highly sought after by employers, who will prioritize keeping up with changing technology; 52 percent of technology recruiters that participated in the Robert Half survey said that conversations around career path and growth opportunities are the main focus of initial job interviews.

Key Takeaway

As IT opportunity costs increase, stay mindful of how much time IT is spending on maintenance and routine management tasks versus how much time they are spending on implementing new technologies. Have a plan to reduce technology management costs so that IT can focus on strategic goals.

 

Trend #2: Consumer Demands Threaten to Outpace Technological Capabilities

 

Thanks to the rapid pace of advancement in consumer technology, consumers have loftier expectations for nearly all products they consume, and have little tolerance for application downtime, instability, or security issues. As such, IT will find themselves closer to the frontlines of the customer experience. This is especially true since customers now expect near-constant application uptime and perfect data security.

IT professionals in the banking world are particularly feeling the increasing demands of customers, whose “nomadic” banking tendencies lead them to take their money to a new institution at the first displeasure. Downtime and lack of access to services are a main culprit of their departure.

“Consumer expectations are outpacing technology," says Kevin Burke, CIO for ASI Federal Credit Union based out of New Orleans, LA. "For one thing: banking hours are a thing of the past."

For Kevin, satisfying customers means not only tailoring technology to consumer experiences, but delivering constant uptime and having customer-centric disaster recovery. For instance, when a hurricane damaged the data center where the Credit Union's systems were, a series of unforeseen disasters lead to unnecessary downtime and a negative impact to business, although critical system recovery performed acceptably.

“Did the DR system work? Yes,” says Kevin, describing the lesson learned from the Hurricane. “Did it work for our customers? No."

Many other businesses are learning the same lessons, and are adjusting their DR plans for faster recovery.

“The desire for a tighter recovery times is driving business decisions,” says Barrett Williams, Director of Delivery Services for EATEL Business. “More clients are augmenting backups with real-time replication solutions, like Zerto, to make business continuity more seamless. Recovering large amounts of data from backups can be too time consuming and slow recovery efforts. Having the data replicated can save hours of time in the event of a disaster.”

Key Takeaway

Consumers have “iPhone expectations” for most products these days, demonstrating an increased demand for new features and higher levels of application accessibility. Companies that can’t roll out new improvements at an iPhone pace can at least take extra measures to make their products and applications more accessible, stable, and safe.

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