From the rising influence of marketing to the impact of mobile to the realities of offshoring, 2014 is going to have its share of trends and disruptions that affect IT.
1: The end of the Luddite
It was once acceptable and even fashionable to be a Luddite who groused about technology at every turn and happily claimed ignorance on all things technical. With middle managers and younger executives having grown up with technology, the Luddite is now regarded as an inflexible dinosaur. The good news for IT pros is that most executives regard technology as an enabler to be embraced. The bad news is that some execs think they know more about tech and its realistic capabilities than they actually do.
2: The rise of marketing
Many of the big enterprise IT trends were driven by a particular business unit. The dawn of corporate IT was largely driven by finance and the rise of enterprise systems like ERP and CRM driven by operations and sales. Marketing is now in on the act, and a function that was once largely regarded as "touchy feely" fluff has become strongly data driven and is setting the agenda for many corporate strategies and IT investments. If you don't have a working knowledge of marketing and customer experience, it's time to start doing some homework.
3: The reality of offshoring
I'll never forget hearing a Fortune 500 CEO wax poetic about "offshore programmers with PhDs in computer science who are 'smarter and harder working' than us and work for around $5 an hour," circa 1999. Offshoring will not be going away anytime soon; however, most topnotch offshore developers now charge what they're worth — and most executives realize that the "$5 PhD" is a myth. The market has realized the challenges of offshoring and that you largely get what you pay for.
4: The end of the end-user hardware business
Due to employee demand, the days of one or two company-issued laptops and smartphones are numbered. The good news is that IT will be able to exit the business of purchasing, deploying, and managing end-user hardware. The bad news is that you can no longer assume a secure endpoint and will have to protect your infrastructure from anything from a misconfigured laptop to a smartwatch that's infected with malware.
5: Mobile impact
Mobile devices are here to stay, and with them will come an increasing demand of mobile applications, both at the enterprise level and as products your company creates for customers. In the short term, this trend means iOS and Android developers can basically name their price. But in the longer term, a common development platform is likely to emerge. We're awash in attempts to solve this problem, but none has emerged as dominant. Watch this space.
6: Embedded IT
The monolithic, stand-alone IT department is rapidly disappearing for all but the most technical functions. Everything from application development to IT design and engineering is becoming aligned or embedded within business units. This is largely good news for the profession, as it reduces the "us versus them" mentality that has long plagued enterprise IT.
7: Hired guns
Reliance on consultants in IT is nothing new, but many organizations are now farming out the strategic and architecture work as well, relying on a few key individuals internally to work with external experts to plan, design, and eventually build new technologies. If you can seek out these roles, you can often gain exposure to current industry thinking and help set the direction of your company.
8: The battle for marketing
As mentioned above, marketing and the CMO are newly minted drivers of enterprise IT investment. Marketing is often more familiar with collaborating with its external agency partners than internal IT or the "usual suspects" in IT consulting. There will be a great battle for the attention (and dollars) of the CMO, and it will be interesting to see if IT can learn marketing before the agencies can develop technical capabilities.
Consumer technologies appear to be driving the biggest part of innovation in the technology space and that's likely to continue for the coming years. If you're not already doing so, attend or follow the news coming out of consumer technology shows like CES, and watch the consumer space for the technologies your customers are using and your employees will soon be bringing to work.
10: Cheaper, faster, and better
The old quip in IT circles was that you could pick any two of the above, but only two. Fair or not, startups that produce products in a matter of months, cloud software as a service, and Agile-style methodologies have all conspired to change assumptions about how much it costs and how long major IT deployments should take. I rarely hear companies talking about multi-year implementation projects anymore, and companies are demanding incredibly rapid development from their internal teams and partners. Even if you're not a developer, watch how software development and application implementation is evolving, lest you're caught flat-footed when a new boss asks for timeframes in weeks, rather than years.
What other trends will you have your eye on during the months to come? Share your predictions with fellow TechRepublic members.