January is the traditional time for making difficult-to-keep promises for the twelve months ahead – it is also a good time to take a look at where enterprise technology is likely to go in the next year.
2016 was the year when cloud spending took up more than half of technology budgets.
Cloud supply, and managing those suppliers, is now a majority of what every IT department does.
But few enterprises rely on just one provider – more likely there are public and private providers for individual departments. Managing all these relationships will take up more and more of your time but there are various tools to make this easier and quicker. You need a system which provides a simple dashboard to give you an overview of how the various parts of your public and private infrastructure are performing.
You also need to know there is a reason why each provider was chosen for each contract and what benefit they bring to your business.
Relatively low individual costs for cloud deals, and spending operational not capital expenditure, can mean that the total budget can exceed what you’d be spending building your own data centre.
The year ahead, thanks to cloud infrastructure, will see increased moves towards software-defined architecture. More and more of your infrastructure will move beyond hardware allowing more flexibility and easier paths to upgraded storage and analytical functions.
As business demands for data, and with it exploding storage requirements, continue to grow so will the benefits of a truly flexible hybrid infrastructure. This will also allow your business to exploit the business opportunities provided by big data and improved analytics.
Open standards and properly measured and defined service agreements will let your business make the best of these moves.
Mobility, in all its forms, is also going to continue taking a bigger slice of enterprise IT’s time and budgets. This doesn’t just mean empowering your workforce to work from everywhere, but also providing ever better mobile services and apps to your customers.
Mobile is not just first any more. For many applications, and even entire businesses, mobile is everything.
This is a big change of mindset for traditional IT but it is a change which is not going away.
Another resolution every business would love to make this year is not to be a victim of hackers. The reality is that we will all, both businesses and as individuals, face a plethora of ever more sophisticated attacks over the next twelve months.
The well prepared IT department needs to take a broad and deep view of your business’s security.
Attackers will go after the weakest link in any chain, so you are as vulnerable as the least secure member of your supply chain.
Equally you are as vulnerable as the least security-aware and security-trained member of your staff. That weak link is as likely to be a board member as a new trainee but you need to make sure everyone is following proper security policies.
The specifics of cyber attacks will change over the year, but having well-trained staff in place will leave you best placed to fight them off.
Predicting the future is notoriously difficult but a lot of people believe that this year machine learning and big data will leave the lab and start to have an impact on the real world.
The change is these technologies will begin to alter the way business decisions are made, and not just how business decisions are justified afterwards. Resolving to at least consider pilot projects in this area is probably a good idea.
Focussing on improving cloud deals, on putting mobility first and making security central to every decision will help keep the lights on. Properly considering how big data can change business decision making should help keep your business competitive in the medium terms.
Keeping these four promises won’t fix everything, but they should put your business in a strong position to make the best of all four technologies.