CXO

10 lessons IT learned in 2014

From implementing real-time big data processes to managing internal social media, 2014 brought many changes and challenges. Drawing on those experiences can help you build your strategy for 2015.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/stevecoleimages

Now that IT has turned the page into a new year, we've gained plenty of insights and knowledge that were scarcely on the radar a year ago. What happened over the last 12 months — and how will it affect IT strategy in 2015?

1: LAN is WAN

2014 changed the game forever for IT network professionals. It's no longer enough to safeguard the corporate network with firewalls and intrusion detection software. If you're being asked to deliver a quality end-user experience, you have to guarantee network service to users in Australia, Japan, and Rome as well as in the US and Canada. This means that endpoint and network traffic management must include internet. Accordingly, wide area network edge monitoring and subscriptions to WAN network management service providers have moved from a nice-to-have commodity to a must-have service.

2: Vendor selection is moving to the business

IT decision makers spent plenty of time soothing their egos in 2014, as familiar IT vendors bypassed them and went knocking on the doors of CMOs, CFOs, and other business leaders needing IT services. In this new buying model, end-user areas are funding IT solutions and sidestepping IT — and then asking IT to help later in the decision-making or support processes for the solutions.

3: Vendor management is moving to IT

If the end users are talking to the IT vendors and making the purchasing decisions, shouldn't they also manage the vendor relationships and resolve issues? Surprise! End users are more than happy to turn over these responsibilities to IT. They recognize the years of vendor management experience that IT brings to the table.

4: Big data is turning real time

Just as companies began launching their first set of big data projects, the ante was raised for real-time big data analytics. For example, a company might switch out product promotions when buying activities show a sudden change in consumer preferences. Or it might adjust delivery schedules and reroute a truck carrying produce to Atlanta when it flashes a sudden demand in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2015, IT will be expected to redraw a batch-oriented big data process for real-time analysis and support.

5: Internal social media is not so easy

In 2014, most companies got social media-style employee coordination and communication on projects, HR, and other corporate topics on the board. But most found the process too loosely defined in terms of developing proper usage policies and system integration designs. Internal social media design will be an important focus in 2015.

6: Business knowledge is more important than ever

Time to market for new applications and systems went from three months to one month for many IT projects, with end users being less concerned about "absolutely perfect" applications and more concerned about hitting the bull's-eye quickly in terms of the business need. IT will continue to experience this push from end users in 2015, making the acquisition and development of strong business analysts imperative.

7: Data archiving and backups are no longer backroom concerns

Corporate governance and e-discovery have already made emails and other corporate documentation an area for archiving. But as big data established itself last year, so too did the knowledge that all this data needs to be retained. You never know what data you'll need for future questions you can't even imagine asking today. As a result, cold (cheap) offline storage for all the data you used to throw away emerged in 2014. On the other end of the data storage archiving spectrum are backups of in-memory data originating on DRAM and SSD.

8: It's time for a cloud uber-architecture

End users are subscribing to public cloud services. IT is building private clouds. Then there's the collection of data and applications in the corporate data center. At some point, IT has to architect an overarching architecture for all these assets that allows for simplistic integration and consistency of security and governance. 2015 might be the year.

9: Effective remote servicing is the order of the day

Today's workforces are disseminated around the world, in homes, offices, and in the field. When mobile devices are lost or when software needs to be updated or installed, these operations must be pushed out to end users from a central controlling point. There no longer is time to personally visit remote locations for the level or service required today.

10: Application maintenance is still a challenge

At the end of 2014, application maintenance was no different than it was at the end of 1984. IT application staffs are still spending more than half their time maintaining existing application code bases. This leaves less time for development when the demand for new apps is at unparalleled levels. IT will continue to grapple with this issue in 2015.

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Other lessons?

What discoveries (good and bad) did you make during the past year and how are they shaping your future strategies? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

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