Technology Trends: 5 Leading Areas of IT InvestmentSeptember 24 '2015
We’ve talked before about IT’s expanding role and contributions to business operations; now we are looking at the IT provider – business partner relationship from the client’s perspective. Even there, the rules have changed: organizational leadership’s growing affection with technology has ensured IT’s continued seat at the table, and its involvement in long-term planning and strategy.
Projected IT investment reinforces this; according to Computerworld’s Forecast 2015, 43 percent of IT executives expected to increase spending this year. But where do executives plan to capitalize? And are IT providers prepared to adequately meet these needs? Let’s review the top five areas where IT executives expect to—and do—invest.
1. Security Technologies
Most clients view security as a barrier to getting work done, so while it certainly isn’t the most glamorous aspect of IT support, security technology is arguably the most critical, given business’s increasing reliance on mobile and cloud computing.
As businesses move further away from centralized networks and points of operations, they have to continually ensure their data is protected. Encryption is a must-have for work devices, and two-step authentication is recommended for access to all networks. You can also expect businesses to invest in proactive virus-scanning software that detects and prevents cyber attacks.
2. Cloud Computing
Businesses are moving away from big infrastructure investments to cloud-based systems, primarily for web-hosting and email purposes. But as cloud vehicles from Microsoft and Google gain traction with businesses, opportunities exist to implement workflow processes and automation tools that can improve operations.
Additionally, cloud computing provides businesses expanded flexibility, improved accessibility and collaboration, and dependable redundancy, so it’s no surprise to any IT provider that cloud solutions rank high on this list.
3. Business Analytics
Every business, whether it knows it or not, sits on a mountain of data that can reveal operational strengths and weaknesses. Enterprise analytics, data mining, and business intelligence platforms can do so many things for business; for example, understand their customers’ expectations better, develop plans and implement processes to meet those expectations, and then analyze if/how the work paid off. It’s an ongoing process, and every good business strives to keep improving service delivery.
Technology is enhancing our ability to identify the right data, to analyze it properly, and to draw meaningful conclusions. The term “Big Data” has been around for several years now, yet businesses indicate there’s still work to be done in this area.
4. Application Development/Upgrades/Replacements
Technology has changed how businesses interact with customers, and as a younger, more tech-aware generation enters the workforce, businesses are adjusting to meet customers’ and employees’ expectations and requests (mobile ordering/purchasing apps and self-service web portals, for example). This is certainly an area IT providers are regularly involved in, as businesses can be eager to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest tools to do their work or serve their customers; however, it’s critical that the desired applications, especially cloud-based applications, have matured properly and been tested for quality and reliability.
Businesses are increasingly allowing and promoting BYOD, or “bring your own device,” to employees, to increase remote work opportunities and reduce hardware costs. (Hardware was, in fact, the top area where IT professionals expected to cut spending in 2015, according to the survey.) Investment is needed, however, to support this employee-friendly policy with high-speed Wi-Fi connections and systems necessary to secure mobile access to internal networks and applications.
The Bottom Line
Executives have their IT priorities in order, and the issues listed above shouldn’t, on their own, serve as a wake-up call to IT providers. But, as we’re talking about investments, this list is a reminder for all IT professionals to invest the right amount of time and energy to stay on top of emerging trends and technologies in these and related areas.
As leading technologies become mainstream, clients will expect you’ve worked with these products and understand them. But if you do your homework, when a client calls, you’ll know the answers before they ask the questions.