Neither time nor technology stand still for IT professionals. To effectively support the business, IT leaders must be not only on top of the latest trends, but also ready to execute on them in the context of strategic business plans. According to interviews with IT pros, the following trends are among the most important to follow in the new year.
1. Data science
According to a Harvard Business Review report from Thomas H. Davenport and D.J. Patil, data science is not only important, it’s the sexiest job of the 21st century. “[Data scientists'] sudden appearance on the business scene reflects the fact that companies are now wrestling with information that comes in varieties and volumes never encountered before,” wrote Davenport and Patil.
Companies will be competing for what is currently a relatively small number of qualified data scientists, and IT leaders must join in supporting the big data drive by developing expertise in the products and services that can help their organizations turn disparate data points into actionable insights that drive revenue and inform cost.
“Much of the current enthusiasm for big data focuses on technologies that make taming it possible, including Hadoop (the most widely used framework for distributed file system processing) and related open-source tools, cloud computing, and data visualization,” noted Davenport and Patil in the Harvard Business Review report.
2. Wearable fitness devices
Wearable fitness devices like Fitbit help consumers take care of their health by tracking daily activity and calories burned. “Wearers can get real-time tracking of their actions,” said Dave Wakeman, a technology consultant.
These devices generate a wealth of data that people can use to inform their lifestyle choices–and, with permission, that organizations can use to inform decisions about new product and service offerings.
Wearable technology positions data as a tool to enrich consumers’ lives. Companies can use data from wearable devices to perform comprehensive, individual-level analyses of fitness. This information can be used, for example, by health-based organizations to design more effective products and solutions for their customers.
IT leaders can help ensure that this information is stored and used efficiently and effectively–and safely.
3. Cloud apps and services
Small-business owners are typically challenged in the areas of personnel and financial resources. Cloud apps help level the playing field, giving small businesses access to seemingly infinite resources.
Indeed, cloud apps help democratize computing power for organizations of all sizes, from individual consultants to large enterprise brands.
“It’s awesome to see small-business owners using cloud apps and services to leverage enterprise power at a fraction of the cost,” said Gabriel Mays, founder at Just Add Content.
To ensure that companies are getting what they need–and what they are paying for–IT pros will need to become savvy in the art of contracting and developing service-level agreements (SLAs).
4. Socially enabled business processes
Social media is a power tool that can help businesses harness the power of referrals and human-to-human relationships.
“For example, within recruiting, a number of advancements are available whereby a business can see enhanced by integrating with social channels for awareness building, candidate research and position postings,” said Chris Curran, chief technologist at PwC.
Much of the activity around social media typically comes from the business side, and IT pros should be working with business leaders to develop policy around social–to ensure that the platform is being used within the company’s overall technology guidelines and in accordance with any relevant regulatory mandates.
The trends named in this piece are on one level very diverse and on another very connected–with the common thread being the data emanating from today’s modern computing systems. Focusing on these trends–and looking for new opportunities to apply big data–will help IT professionals effectively support the business in the new year.