IT Trends to Watch in 2016
IT has made great leaps in recent years to make sense of the huge volumes of data being generated in every industry. But the IT trends of 2016 are going to be about taking the next step, a very exciting step.
Companies looked out across the sea of sensors, mobile devices, social media, video and other sources, and they called it “big data.” They began to glean business insights from the data, identifying important new patterns and connections. Manufacturers discovered significant ways to improve operational efficiencies in both manufacturing and product service. Commercial enterprises developed a more complete understanding of their customers’ true needs and habits to develop better products to improve revenue and profitability.
But as 2016 approaches, the focus is shifting toward more specific decisions guided by relevant data in critical contexts. Bringing in new sources of data to complete the analytical picture — the right sources for the right analysis — will allow IT-driven businesses to improve the decisions, at scale, that deliver the most productivity, while mitigating risk to the organization.
In fact, CIOs who develop strategies around this trend, and everything that follows from it, will give their organizations an opportunity to gain a competitive edge. Here are the top IT trends to watch in 2016:
Contextual data drives value
Building on the growth of information generated by digital engagement platforms and data supplied by Internet of Things (IoT) devices, contextualized analytics will be a prevailing force in 2016. In a novel, context describes the setting and the scene where characters act. In an enterprise, contextual data provides the same type of broader picture. Data points such as device, location, language, social network or influencers help enterprises develop improved insights, personalize products or services, or even suggest specific actions. More context will allow enterprises to create a more integrated and valuable information experience for clients, employees, partners and citizens.
For example, telematic data gathered from vehicles will help automakers improve the durability of components and identify potential problems, notifying drivers before trouble occurs. Insurers will be better able to manage risks and offer drivers more personalized, usage-based policies. Taken a step further, in insurance, the whole concept of pooling risks may disappear because the data revolution will enable insurers to underwrite down to the individual level.
As context increases, cybertargets increase
As data becomes more contextually rich, it becomes more valuable to the enterprise — and to cybercriminals as well. The growing risk of attack will require next-generation techniques for network defense, identity access management, risk management and now information management. Public clouds will play a role in the integration of contextual data, so these will need to be included in security system architectures. Context-rich environments will force enterprises to give significant thought to acceptable risk levels and controls as they share a growing range of information.
However, the same context-rich environment can be tapped to provide a much higher degree of situational awareness. With more information about users and uses, real-time alerts and network analytics, organizations will be able to maintain a more comprehensive and consistent security posture and an increased ability to automatically detect suspicious activity.
API economy is strong
Enterprises have discovered the power of APIs and will continue to build on them. APIs are no longer just a development tool. APIs enable information access and exchange between systems, often acting as a wrapper around older systems. This allows organizations to combine data from legacy applications and new applications. APIs create new channels for service integration, information coordination, ecosystems of information sharing and economies around information derivatives. The core of a digital strategy depends on democratizing information access, and APIs play a central role in that process. They are the key to a business strategy for innovation and a key to providing contextual information.
The move toward APIs also underscores the move away from an in-house IT mentality and embraces outside infrastructure, cloud computing, as-a-service options, the freelance economy and the participation ecosystem. It features an IT-centric set of initiatives designed to make the enterprise more open, agile and prepared to participate in the “outside-in” digital economy.
CIOs partner to bring information into context
IT no longer supports the business; it is the business. As a result, IT is learning to think in business terms and ask questions such as, "How will we differentiate?" and "How will we grow our top line and bottom line?"
This shift explains why the CIO's role will continue to change, taking on the task of partnering with the business to drive information and technology value. This partnership is part of what's called business relationship management (BRM), and it will help the enterprise gain access to the right information and technology to make better decisions and introduce competitive products, quickly and at scale. As owner of the organization's information and technology, the CIO is uniquely positioned to lead the development of digital business innovations.
Enterprise platform players continue to converge
Another trend is the ongoing convergence and consolidation of enterprise infrastructure players, as the recent announcement of a “mega-merger” between Dell and EMC illustrates. This consolidation answers the market's demand for more standardized, agile and complete solutions out of the box. Converged infrastructure is moving toward public cloud styles, which extend purchasing and operating leverage, enable agility and improve self-service for IT. Look for greater specialization of these platforms in future products and services to create IT leverage in specific workload styles in specific industries. For example, financial services platforms will combine to create core banking as a service, next-generation telematics platforms will emerge to collect and manage data from connected cars, and mobile and social platforms will converge.
Finally, if there's anything that's certain about the future, it's that some new innovative technology or application will surface in 2016 that will change our thinking, again. This continuing change and renewal is what makes IT such an exciting field to be a part of today, and I can't wait to see what else 2016 will bring.
DAN HUSHON is chief technology officer at CSC. Connect with Dan on Twitter @DanHushon
Thanks to CSC’s Leading Edge Forum, ResearchNetwork and CTO Office for input.
CSC’s Leading Edge Forum is a sponsor of the Business Relationship Management Institute, the premier organization dedicated to serving the global BRM community. Learn more at csc.com/lef-brm.