It wouldn't be a new year without predictions for the future. Big data, cloud technologies, wearables and mobile are the hottest topics for 2014.
TechRepublic talked to several IT experts to find out their top tech predictions for 2014.
Participating in the roundtable were:
- Brendan Caulfield, COO of Turing Group
- Michael Chasen, founder and CEO of SocialRadar
- Lauren Cooney, senior director of software strategy, CTO and architecture office at Cisco
- Dave Frymier, CISO of Unisys
- Kelly Herrell, VP and GM of software networking business unit at Brocade
- Jon Jackson, CEO of Mobile Posse
- Guido Jouret, vice president and general manager of Internet of Things for Cisco
- Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify
- Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks
- Rob Macdonald, VP, Business Development, Dstillery
- Michael Mace, mobile strategist of UserTesting.com
- Paul Moore, CTO of Centrify
- Prakash Nanduri, CEO of Paxata
- Tom Phillips, CEO of Dstillery
- Ray Potter, CEO of SafeLogic
- Molly Rector, CMO of Spectra Logic
- Karen Ross, CEO of Sharp Decisions
- Mark Shirman, president and CEO of RiverMeadow
- Uyen Tieu,co-founder and CRO of Rumble
- Dave Ward, CTO of engineering and chief architect of Cisco
- Eran Yaniv, CEO of Perfecto Mobile
Landa: "Many individuals and organizations will move to Microsoft's cloud, only to be severely disappointed. Although many say that Microsoft and Google own market share in the cloud space, I would argue that they are "renting" it. Although a significant number of people will migrate to these industry giants' cloud models, just as many will become disenchanted with their service and application limitations. 2014 will be the year of cloud education; people will become savvier about cloud options and vendors, based on their experiences. They will come to the conclusion that bigger is not always better and begin to more strategically select the cloud model (and corresponding vendor) that works best for their organization."
Caulfield: "Historically, large enterprises have resisted adopting public and private cloud platforms. However, in 2014, services like Amazon Web Services will branch out from their small and medium sized customers to large enterprise customers by introducing innovative new capabilities. Specifically, we will see innovation among cloud providers in two areas: addressing large companies' security and reliability concerns with new features and services, and delivering incredibly sophisticated solutions for niche enterprise industries. We have an initial taste of this with Amazon's recently launched Kinesis product, which helps manage vast quantities of streaming data. It's no longer a question of if a company will join the cloud, but rather when, how and with which service provider. Continued innovation with only help to advance this rapid pace of adoption."
Yaniv: "The market is no stranger to the benefits and advantages that the cloud brings. In 2013, we saw an increase in demand for Mobile Cloud solutions and significant enhancements of hybrid clouds throughout the industry. In 2014, organizations will need and request portable clouds for cloud testing. With the more complex applications arriving to the market, the demand for a hybrid cloud is more urgent than ever to test locally and on other types of devices."
Shirman: "It will be all about the cloud once again in 2014 and this will be the year that the hybrid cloud model takes off. Right now, most of the large enterprises I speak with have seriously embarked upon building their own private cloud solutions. But, there are still many people in their organizations that are using the public cloud for small projects and signing up using their credit cards. In fact, in some businesses there is what we are calling "cloud sprawl". For many reasons, the larger enterprises do not want too much of their environments in the public cloud. This may change over the next few years, but right now, they want total control. With that being said, businesses of all sizes need a way to communicate and operate in a Hybrid environment of public/private, with tools and vendors and architectures that provide for cloud/server mobility. Expect this to take a larger focus for businesses in the next 12 months."
Wearables and Internet of Things
Jouret: "The Internet of Things, and specifically increased automation in industrial systems and processes, coupled with big data, will bring tremendous advances in predictive diagnostics, with important applications in environment as diverse as retail and automotive safety. Within 2-4 years, the level of connectivity, automation and intelligence will be so advanced in everyday vehicles, that insurers may well charge individuals more for driving their own car, than if they allowed the car to drive them. Put a GPS in car – transmit to insurance, charge more for speeding."
Chasen: "Mobile is already outpacing the web in many internet related categories. If you combine the information gathered/combined with wearable technologies then it certainly is capturing the mindshare of people's time spent being connected. This year alone we saw major product updates from FitBit, Jawbone and many other new products were introduced in the healthcare field. Also Pebble and Samsung smart watches launched. And, let's not forget, Google Glass. With rumors of an improved Nike device, Glass competitors, motion tracking devices such as XBOX One, cellular services in cars dashboards, it is easy to see the trend where we are going. The internet is the backbone of a slew of devices that are going beyond the smart phone. With prices falling in bluetooth, wifi, cellular enabled you are likely to see mass production hit for many products."
Mace: "Everyone seems to agree that wearable computing is a hot category, but will we see a breakthrough device in 2014? To answer that, watch for the killer app. Consumer computing devices generally take off when they solve a particular problem or fit into an unfilled niche in peoples' lives. For personal computers, the killer apps were spreadsheet and word processing. For BlackBerry, it was mobile e-mail. So far, the only broadly popular wearable computers are fitness trackers: they fill a clear need for a well-defined group of customers. In contrast, most other wearable computing devices, such as smart glasses and smart watches, are bundles of technologies searching for a usage. If they find that usage, they're likely to take off rapidly. But until they do, they'll probably remain curiosities."
BYOD and containerization
Kemp: "With the growth of data and devices rising exponentially, we've found ourselves in a world in which the idea of containerization - allowing users to separate their work and personal data within one device - has become more important. According to Gartner, 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018, and the industry needs a solution that will allow employees to access data easily, while also keeping security at an all-time high. 2014 will be the year that the device finally doesn't matter. Employees aren't going to care where their data lives, they just want to be able to access it wherever they are, whenever they want. Companies want to be able to protect their data and remove sensitive information from an employee's device once they leave the company. For vendors, this means the focus will be on delivering an experience within a device - not just about the device itself."
Yaniv: "BYOD isn't about security; it's about productivity for developers in 2014: Bringing your own device to work is a commodity now. In 2014, it will be what enables organizes to be more productive and efficient. Behind a successful BYOD program is the mobile cloud. When looking at enterprise mobility and testing, the easy connection of devices in different geographies and increasing the device coverage from within the enterprise network is a huge advantage. When an organization is able to have developers testing with different developers in the different countries, it expands the entire network coverage to include all devices, systems and networks."
New Internet architectures
Ward and Cooney: "We will see the rise of a new Internet architecture characterized by (a) ‘Fog Computing' – the convergence of networking and compute at the edge of networks to create a more distributed intelligence that balances the need for centralized mega-scale data centers with more locally-useful computing and decision making capabilities, (b) a new type of networking architecture characterized by open APIs and by the embrace of developer communities who will create applications that optimize the integration of networks and management systems and business applications, (c) we will pass the peak of the SDN hype cycle and see real-world applications emerge in 2014, and (d) a new set of IT skillsets which accompany the convergence of computing, networking, storage and applications will emerge. IT professionals will need to become much more comfortable and familiar with IT domains beyond their silos; look to IT as new business enabler – not a burden if you build systems correctly thanks to the ability to deliver data upstream into business."
Big data and analytics
Nanduri: "For the first time in 30 years, the data preparation-versus-analytics time ratio will flip as the amount of time we spend getting data ready will be reduced by half. This is great news for analysts since 70-80% of time is spent on data preparation.Traditional large ETL vendors will attempt to enter the business-led data preparation market, but products focused on data scientists will fall short of their promise."
Rector: "In 2013, there was a huge shift among enterprises in evaluating emerging methods to store, manage, analyze and access data – looking beyond traditional storage methods and storage vendors and starting to evaluate the benefit of open source options, RESTful/Object Storage and open long-term storage data formats such as LTFS; 2013 was also the "coming out party" for what the industry is labeling big data, which has become clear goes beyond just data analytics. Building on these trends in 2014, I anticipate broad implementation of large, long-term storage systems for unstructured data (Deep Storage, Object Storage, LTFS tape systems and Active Archives). Implementation of these systems will provide the enterprise with the foundational tools needed to store valuable data for longer periods and prepare for future big data/analytic initiatives to help make better predictive business decisions."
SecurityFrymier: "Regardless of what you might think of Edward Snowden, there is no denying that his disclosures have heightened awareness of cybersecurity all over the world. Before that, many enterprises were running unencrypted data on their internal networks, which they believed were secure. Now they are beginning to use encryption internally as well, so I expect 2014 to be the year of encryption. The increased use of encryption will both enable and encourage more companies to use infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud solutions, where previously they might have had concerns about the safety of their data in the cloud."
Jouret: "In the coming 1-3 years, we will see a new form of multi-layered security emerge, replacing today's model of "protecting the perimeter" with a combination of security technologies that includes localized clients embedded within devices or localized connections and centralized cloud-based intelligence which constantly scans to protect. The connected car will happen; we just have to care about the connected car and develop strategies so that we don't get hacked."
Potter: "Validated encryption will rapidly approach ubiquity. In the wake of the NSA controversy, customer demands have forced tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to step up and encrypt server traffic. The public has become more aware and concerned about security practices, which will put further pressure on solution providers to prove the quality of their encryption. Vendor claims will come under scrutiny, and the result is that 2014 will be the year of third-party validation."
Moore: "The conflict between ease of use and security is growing because users have information everywhere, and keeping it secure is difficult. As organizations are looking to add ease and simplicity, it is actually hurting us. Humans inherently will take the path of least resistance when it comes to getting tasks done and people will opt for the easier manner to get to an end goal, rather than a more complicated, yet less risky, method. This is especially true when it comes to data security. From personal to business, the amount of data we manage is mind-boggling. Unfortunately, this is causing a conflict between ease of use and security as we create more data on more devices. 2014 will be the year that this conflict really comes to light as more organizations and employees struggle with keeping their data safe on multiple devices, in multiple locations."
IT staffing and budgeting
Ross: "Knowing that benefits are now portable and that their skills are heavily sought after in many different markets, tech talent will bounce around with ease until they find what they want. So a company's brand and culture will be vital factors in retaining personnel. The demand for talent will be based on specialized skills, namely advanced-level positions in technology. Seeing the shortage of talent with the skill sets needed to perform, companies will be more open to on-the-job training and development. It won't matter where people come from, skills will be the only thing that matters. If they know the applications, if they know the mediums: That will be tantamount and an essential part of a project's success or failure."
Herrell: "Technology disruptions are forcing us to fundamentally rethink how networks should be architected, designed, deployed and operated in data centers. Networks are more critical than ever to deliver applications, and we believe fabrics will play a pivotal role to accelerate this transformation - with drastic improvements in network efficiency, resource utilization and performance. The explosion of data is forcing an end to the traditional three-tier network and with Gartner predicting that by 2014, 80 percent of network traffic will flow from server to server, we expect to see enterprises continuing to flatten their networks. They will benefit from more powerful and resilient networks, while ensuring that the networks can massively grow network capacity on demand without disruptions. Even at the age of 40, Ethernet will continue to revolutionize networking."
Jackson: "2014 will be the year of the mobile home and lock screen. Valued at $16B per square inch in 2013, and in the same year chased by the likes of Facebook Home, HTC BlinkFeed, Aviate, Motorola's Active Display and Google Now, expect to see the intelligent home screen market take off. The home/lock screen is the first thing consumers see every time they wake up their handsets, and the one thing they see more than any other screen. It's hard to imagine that on devices so dynamic and so smart, that the most looked at screen will remain so static and so dumb. Look for big changes here in 2014."
Tieu: "It's time for mobile to grow up. In 2014 publishers will discover that they need to go all in for mobile. It is not enough to just have an Android app or an iOS app or to be optimized for the mobile web. Designing for a single device is not going to fly. Publishers need to offer mobile to consumers on every device so that readers can engage when and where they please. People today are digital omnivores, and publishers need to feed their appetites across the varying mobile outlets."
Yaniv: "Mobile will change yet again: As new devices enter the market and new operating systems are being created, 2014 will be another year of change in the mobile industry. It will be the tipping point year for Windows as the third operating system. With BlackBerry left behind, Microsoft is increasing its share of the market with its Windows phones. Microsoft has been investing and strategizing this past year and will take charge in 2014, becoming the top third OS for mobile devices. Google will continue to pave and lead the way."
Phillips: "This time last year, we predicted that the major platform leaders (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest) would be monetizing their own network inventory. In the past year, we saw this materialize with FBX and most recently Twitter's tailored audiences program, allowing marketers to reach customers with more relevant ads. In 2014, we're looking forward to marketers breaking down silos across their media buys and embracing the intelligence captured from across platforms, including mobile and smart TV. The RTB industry has already introduced efficiency and ROI. The next stage of the programmatic evolution is connecting with new consumers to deliver brand value never before possible. In the business of pure possibilities, this is the year to watch."
Macdonald: "In 2014, social sharing will keep shifting toward sight, sound and motion. As such, we will see the rise of the "6 second spot" for brands to insert themselves creatively into the narrative. Success will be determined by who's activating data to make those 6 seconds meaningful."
Teena Maddox is a Senior Editor at TechRepublic. She's an award-winning journalist and specializes in business and lifestyle features. She has also worked at People magazine, W magazine and Women's Wear Daily.