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The five hottest IT trends of 2012, so far

The IT world continues to sprint forward at an unrelenting pace and these are its five hottest trends so far in 2012, according to TechRepublic's Jason Hiner.

Credit: iStockphoto/kizilkayaphotos

As part of what we do at TechRepublic we talk to a lot of CIOs who are planning budgets, IT professionals who are planning projects, and IT vendors who are selling products. That gives us a lot of valuable insights into which way the winds are blowing in IT. With that in mind, it's time to take a look at the IT trends that have the most momentum behind them so far in 2012.

Let's count them down.

5. The projectization of IT

Projects have always been a major part of IT, but in the past there was also a lot of IT resources dedicated to keeping the lights on and keeping the world running. Companies now take those operational aspects of IT for granted and want that existing infrastructure automated as much as possible and for as cheaply as possible. There's little glory or job security in keeping the company's existing systems on life support.

That's why outsourcing and the cloud are such hot commodities. They allow companies to offload IT operational costs and focus their IT staff on the next project to upgrade systems, streamline business processes, and launch new IT projects to transform the business. More than ever, IT is all about the projects. It's about the vendors that can help support IT projects (and there are infrastructure jobs for IT pros there). It's about the business analysts and project managers who can organize people and resources to pull off projects on time and on budget. It's about the CIOs who now base their budget and staffing decisions largely on projects rather than just the cost of keeping the server room running.

4. PC/Mobile convergence

Employees are more mobile than ever. There are a lot of factors driving that, from increased telecommuting to work/life balance where people leave early to pick up their kids and then work the rest of the afternoon from a cafe or the stands at the soccer field. There are also industries such as transportation and health care that have always had lots of non-desk employees and have had to shoe-horn computing solutions into their work environments.

The growing capabilities of smartphones and tablets are filling many of these needs as these mobile devices become more able to do the tasks of a full PC. Still, there are times when workers can be even more productive when working with a full keyboard and mouse. That's why we're beginning to see the rise of products like Motorola Webtop (a smartphone docking solution), Ubuntu for Android (desktop OS embedded in a smartphone), and Microsoft Surface (a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard cover). The lines between traditional PCs and mobile devices continue to blur.

3. Desktop thinning

Let's be honest. The proliferation of mobile devices and the Bring Your Own Device trend has created a lot of headaches and nightmare scenarios for the IT department. For companies that need stronger security and more control over the employee environment, one of the easiest answers to the problem is to move to solutions like desktop virtualization or terminal services from vendors like VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft.

That allows the IT department to create a standard environment with all the company apps that employees can access from a company PC, their home PC or laptop (over VPN), or even a tablet or smartphone. The environment looks and feels like a traditional PC but the apps and all the data remain on the company servers which is more secure and easier for the IT department to manage and troubleshoot. This technology has been around for years, as "thin clients." But there are three factors driving it forward in 2012: 1.) BYOD, 2.) mobile devices, and 3.) it lets companies delay PC upgrades since it pushes all of the heavy lifting to the servers. So companies still aren't going to thin clients in large numbers, but their desktop environments are getting a lot thinner.

2. Big Data

If "Cloud Computing" has been the overhyped and overused IT term of the last several years, the new buzz phrase of 2012 is "Big Data." Like Cloud, Big Data gets abused by marketers. The main thing you need to understand when it comes to Big Data is that it's about bringing together the "structured" internal data that your company has always used for its reports and mixing it with public "unstructured" data like social media streams and freely available government data (on traffic, agriculture, crime, etc.).

The act of combining these two types of data can give you new insights into how your customers feel about your products versus your competitors (from the social media streams), it can help you anticipate changes in product demand, it can help you use government trending data to anticipate the growth or decline of markets, and more. That's why Big Data is such a big deal. But, don't be fooled. It's still in its infancy. There aren't a ton of great commercial tools yet that can help you harness Big Data. It takes the right IT pros who know how to work some data magic, and they are in high demand.

1. Cloud, cloud, and cloud

There are essentially three types of clouds -- the full Internet cloud (some call it the "public cloud"), the private cloud (which looks a lot like a traditional data center, but with lots of virtualization), and the hybrid cloud (an integrated mix of public and private clouds). Make no mistake, all three types of clouds are thriving in 2012. The public cloud is the one that most people think of when they hear "cloud" and it's mostly about hosted apps like Salesforce.com and Workday.com as well as Internet-hosted infrastructure like Rackspace and Amazon AWS. But, we're increasingly seeing traditional IT players like Microsoft, IBM, and HP quietly become big players in the cloud as well.

The private cloud and the hybrid cloud are for larger companies and organizations that need stronger security or have legacy apps that are not easily moved or migrated to the cloud. Both of these types of cloud solutions are picking up steam, especially in companies that have already moved their easy stuff to the cloud and are now digging in and dealing with some of the big, expensive, entrenched stuff.

Your take

What are the hottest IT trends in your world so far in 2012? Jump into the discussion below and let us know.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

24 comments
beaubouef
beaubouef

Thanks Jason for the article. As it relates to ERP, I recommend that IT Should Move Up the ERP Value Chain. A key challenge in my role as an IT ERP Director was to maximize business value with a shrinking budget. It was quite an education for a person with the majority of his experience in Tier I ERP Consulting. There are many options competing against IT organizations in providing ERP services (SaaS, Cloud, Off-shore and Near-Shore support models). Two key battlegrounds are ERP software development for customizations and ERP support. Show me an IT organization whose key competitive advantage is that they are internal and I will show you a shrinking IT department! There must be a major shift in IT’s value proposition for ERP support. In the next sections we will discuss some of the shifts IT ERP shops need to make to stay competitive and relevant. http://gbeaubouef.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/it-erp-value-chain/

scottkline
scottkline

I can't believe we are not talking about Flash storage in the Hottest IT Trends of 2012. I do not think there is a hotter trend. Even Forbes claimed 2012 a the year of Flash! EMC, IBM have already made acquisitions. The rest of the incumbents must follow. Flash will be bigger than dedupe and all other technologies before it. The innovation from the start ups in this space is changing the game.

ahanse
ahanse

This is a shocking article and only adds to the reason why IT should be taken out of the hands of many and put into a few (again). Instead of asking IT professionals you come up with a heap of new *BUZZ words* to confuse your readers for a time. And that is the hottest IT trend. Does the pro section get this kind of dribble? Project management (5) and Data mining (2) have been around longer than IT and just because you keep changing the names does not change how they work. 3-4 same again new terms for a relatively old idea and economics drives them not IT. That leaves the cloud. If you think about it long enough this one has been around since the beginning of networks. Anyone recognise this (-rwx------)? The cloud is defiantly needed for all the people who do not understand what the term “backups” means. It will also reduce the need for every business needing so many IT staff (economic influence again). Before the cloud settles into our everyday life there will be some agonising disasters because that is how IT progresses.

'techy'
'techy'

Bring your own device is a huge trend, and most techy's have to bend to support these types of devices whether it be phones, tablets, or laptops. The separation between work and home is shrinking.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I think the real work will end up. What concerns me most is how many IT people will be shafted because market people convince CEOs to go that way and then blame the IT people for not making it work the way the market people envisioned it, despite anyone with real tech knowledge knowing the market dreams are pure dream and not reality based. I also wait in dread to see how many people go down some of those trends only to find themselves in court for major violations of laws they knew nothing about until after being bit by them due to listening to the market people. Third issue will be the people screwed over by big data resulting in their data not being available while the whole lot is locked down during a legal investigation into someone else's suspected criminal activities. Lots of legal and technical mines littering all of this, and nearly all totally ignored by the market people whose only focus is their commission of selling the CEOs on going their way.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

Who conceptualizations such dingbat, meaningless, words? The tendency to suffixize almost every word by adding "ize" or similar silliness to the end does not elevate the quality of the written word.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

I see the hottest IT 2012 trend as the destabilization of IT. The second hottest IT 2012 trend is to wait for Windows 8 and Surface. And maybe the third trend is to work toward HTML5 and CSS3 in the hope that customers will go upscale with their browsers. That is an abosultely, positive, definite maybe in all categories. Meanwhile, the hottest Management 2012 trend is the delusional belief that IT can run itself, go away and bring new and exciting possibilities all at the same time.

ivangardos
ivangardos

On what statistical basis are you making this? By percentage of IT professionals, all of the above might be insignificant. The real trend is the actual dercreasing number of IT professionals that are needed in maintaining today's technologies! We went from full time IT support to calling in a "Tech" once in the last 18 months, and that because most of us were too busy covering up for vacationing associates.

jim_owens
jim_owens

If I ruled the IT world, my top-5 priorities would include the taming of non-Mac, non-Microsoft systems. I’m not just talking about just the operating systems, but the whole “office” type entourage that has become essential to support our everyday work (our maybe our everyday work has evolved to be dependant upon these systems). Love them or hate them, we have grown up with at least one of these two systems, and (despite the bugs and weirdness’s) they do what we want – but at a considerable cost! I have an Asus Transformer Prime, running Android ICE, an Acer notebook running Meego, and I had an iPad 2 and 3, and I have another notebook running Windows. If I just want to browse, answer emails etc., then Android and Meego are fine, but if I actually want to do some real work (documents, spreadheets, presentations, graphic design, Gantt charts, etc), then the device with Windows and Office is the one to go for. When I create PowerPoint slide presentations for example, I like to use a reasonable amount of animation, and several effects. But I can’t emulate this with Android apps, and when I load a PowerPoint presentation on my other machines, I get the Bizarro version. But the Windows machine takes an age to boot up, and when it finally gets there, the virus-scanner ties up 100% of the CPU for 5 minutes! And of course the programs (that’s the old word for “apps” - for all you younger people) cost an arm and a kidney. With the other operating systems, it’s instant-on, but often the attendant software is an instant turn-off. And Windows isn’t touch-screen friendly. Maybe Windows 8 will be the panacea for all our IT woes, but then every release of Windows so far has claimed that it will be. There are a gazillion very talented programmers out there looking for the next big idea to make them rich, and there are big companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, who are keen to hold on to a significant market share. Hey guys, I have a message for you, why not write office apps for other operating systems, that actually work.

ttroiano
ttroiano

Document security and mobile document security is hot and will continue to accelerate. The kind of document security that is native to the documents themselves, not the transport mechanism, networks or server security. This allows any document in any format or file type regardless of size to be secured, managed, measured and audited based on authentication and governance rules regulated by industry, corporate standard and just plain smart business.

jfranchino
jfranchino

The real “Cloud Computing” is "cloud working". Centering not on the net but on the people. Professionals, employees, seekers, companies of any size, put in the net the needs they have and employees, seekers, companies of any size offer the solutions.

mckinnej
mckinnej

why you got modded down, but bad-mouthing Win8 is definitely more popular right now than anything in Jason's list. Is it justified? That's an entirely different, and very personal, subject. At least it gives people something else to complain about instead of the ribbon. :)

manos.lk
manos.lk

I completely agree with RMSx32767. Most IT professionals and marketing people have started a new "trend" of creating verbs out of nouns just to make them sound interesting. When they talk--they use these words a lot--they don't know that the majority of their audience barely understands what they are saying.

davidmartinomalley
davidmartinomalley

Good point, I've referred to it as the "Commoditization of IT". The Cloud starts that, but the future Cloud will make it a certainty.

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

On my computer with Windows 8, it take 5 secs to boot. Close enough to instant for me! I'd say check into Windows 8 to see what has changed for yourself - ignore the naysayers and keep an open mind and you may be amazed. I too have a mix of mobile and desktop solutions. Each has its place. Mobile devices just allow us to work more often, not work better. Is that really a great idea?

sissy sue
sissy sue

During the past few years, I've likewise noticed a trend to make nouns out of verbs. "The submit was successful." "He participated in the install." What the heck ever happened to "submission" and "installation"? I know that English is a living language, and we should not be too adverse to welcoming new words and new trends into the language. However, I'm not convinced that these aberrations in the English language are intended to make the language more interesting or more useful. Instead, I think they are just a matter of sloppiness. Regardless of one's reason for doing so, transforming verbs into nouns and nouns into verbs just grates on my nerves.

mperata
mperata

"started a new "trend" of creating verbs out of nouns" You may be too young to remember when everyone started "dialoguing" rather that speaking or conversing about a subject or issue.

333239
333239

All the jargon and buzzwords are about making old ideas sound new. e.g. We used to use the word network instead of cloud, but network sounds old and cloud sounds new. We used make IT tasks into projects, now, apparently, we have 'projectization'.

Y2Kisajoke
Y2Kisajoke

are you sure it's not "crowdization"??

mckinnej
mckinnej

is "socialize". What the heck does that mean, post it on FB or Twit? Whatever happened to clear and meaningful words like "discuss"? I make it a point to avoid using worthless jargon and "fad" words, most of which came out of some marketing department.

lassiter12
lassiter12

How about crowding the clouding? Or clouding the crowd?

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