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Consumerisation and mobility are what’s driven Apple to the top. They’re also probably the biggest trends Microsoft failed to catch on to. In other words, they’re very important.
That’s not about to change. According to Gartner research vice president Chris Howard, they will continue to be the top trends driving technology in 2014 and beyond, along with the continuing growth of the ‘Internet of Things’ which extends the human-machine relationship.
“For many years IT has been mainly about managing infrastructure and operations,” says Howard. “Now the pendulum is swinging back towards the ‘creation of the digital enterprise’, and managing (and monetising) data is the new key requirement.”
Big data will get even bigger with the influx of new information from the ‘Internet of Things’, says Howard. “It’s not necessarily about your fridge being connected to the internet, which has been hyped for over a decade now,” he says. “It’s about the critical mass of sensor networks that already exists, largely in industrial and commercial spaces like utilities, mines and refineries. We have machines communicating with each other, making low-level decisions on their own and feeding appropriate data back to humans to enrich our knowledge. We are also seeing devices and locations gaining ‘histories’ based on human social network engagement.”
This means that companies need to start thinking about cultivating talent in a whole load of new job spaces. “We’re seeing the rise of roles like data scientist,” adds Howard. “There is increasing demand for people who know how to work effectively with large amounts of data. We’ve come a long way — thanks to technological advances like in-memory computing, there are new questions organisations can ask of their data that weren’t possible even five years ago.”
Big data and the rise of networked objects are two of the rising technology trends that will shape IT through 2014, says Howard — but consumerisation continues to be one of the major drivers, with power shifting to the consumers and users of technology, even in large organisations.
“It’s become the IT department’s job to adapt to its users, not the other way around,” says Howard. “Whether as employees or as customers, engaged individual consumers and their expectations are transforming the way IT organisations do business.”
Mobility is one of the most important themes, says Howard. “CIOs now need to grapple with how best to deliver services to mobile customers, employees and executives. People’s expectations of what workplace technology should deliver are formed by their experiences with the new generation of personal mobile devices. They are used to devices that are highly flexible, adaptable and responsive to their needs, and they want the same thing at work.”
The continued evolution of cloud and hybrid IT solutions is a parallel trend, adds Howard. “It’s becoming much more the norm to mix functionality from inside and outside the organisation. Commodity services can be supplied from outside as an operational expense, where more strategic items might need to be insourced and allocated to the capital budget. How each organisations decides its own optimal mix is a complex economic and strategic calculation.”
Howard will be speaking at Gartner Symposium Africa, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 16 to 18 September.