15 IT Trends for 2015

2015 IT Trends, via Sarah Lahav, CEO SysAid Technologies
To shepherd in the New Year I’ve created a list of 15 IT trends for 2015. They’re in no particular order, and most are not new – they’re just more relevant in 2015 given the long lead time for mass corporate adoption of new technologies, practices, and thinking despite what industry pundits get excited about and predict…
  1. Increased automation. There’s no escaping that people costs continue to be a big part of total IT costs. The use of cloud services will continue to reduce this (with cloud service providers achieving lower costs through both economies of scale and the use of automation) but there is still a need to reduce human touch points, and the associated costs, within corporate data centers and operational environments – with speedier delivery and fewer human errors secondary benefits. 2015 will see even greater automation adoption by corporate IT organizations under pressure to reduce costs and better demonstrate business value.
  2. Continued cloud adoption. IT organizations will continue to move IT services (whether buying SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS) to third-party cloud service providers. Security will continue to be a cause for concern, especially as the media’s breach article frenzy continues. However, the ability to integrate (with existing on-premise and newer cloud services) – and have always-up service availability – will rise to be two very practical concerns for enterprise cloud adoption. From an IT management point of view, organizations will need to continue to seek out people with the ability to manage suppliers and service delivery. Nonetheless, IT will continue to head to the cloud in 2015.
  3. The growth of hybrid cloud. Only the foolish ever thought that large enterprises would move everything from the corporate data center to the cloud. Yes, new companies might be able to rely on third-party cloud service providers but for those with a long business and data center history, and sensitivity to storing certain types of information in the public cloud, it was never going to be the case. The hybrid cloud, defined by global analyst firm Gartner as “a combination of private, public, and community cloud services,” will continue to rise in popularity during 2015 as organizations look to get the best from both private and public cloud.
  4. The BYO epiphany. This is where corporate IT organizations finally wake up to see that Shadow IT, BYOD, or BYO-anything is not being driven by consumer IT and cloud service providers but by the corporate IT organization’s inability to meet stakeholder and user expectations across usability, cost, service, and agility. The 10 years of Consumerization of IT talk, with a focus on consumer gadgets, has thus been a red herring – hiding the true root cause of customer discontent with existing IT supply. Post-epiphany, corporate IT organizations will need to change; and change quickly.
  5. Greater focus on IT costs. It’s inevitable. It’s been over 10 years since business colleagues buying consumer products and services first started to question why they receive lower spec IT equipment at a higher cost from the corporate IT department. And now as companies require more and more technology to function, especially those that are transforming to digital enterprises, those IT costs will continue to rise. The increased use of third-party service providers (cloud or IT services) will reduce the burden somewhat but it will not be enough for IT organizations to escape the scrutiny of the CFO and CEO, and the need for greater financial stewardship during 2015.
  6. The increased focus on costs will drive a focus on assets. IT asset management has long been a poor relation to corporate IT service management activities and investment. In some ways, the lack of business scrutiny as to why IT costs so much, has allowed corporate IT organizations to be lackadaisical in their asset management. But those days have gone, or are quickly coming to an end, with 2015 finally seeing corporate IT organizations looking to physical and software assets as ways of reducing and optimizing costs.
  7. IT service management models will trifurcate. The focus on delivering consumer-like service experiences and the extension of IT service management capabilities to other corporate service providers such as HR, facilities, and legal through enterprise service management, will cause IT service management as a discipline to divide into, and to evolve at different speeds within, two different schools of thinking. There will be traditional IT service management, enterprise service management, and then both with an emphasis on better meeting customer expectations around not only the consumed service but also the service experience. 2015 will see many corporate IT organizations at a crossroads as they chose which of the three service management roads to take.
  8. The need to manage more complex IT supplier environments. This need will continue to grow as enterprises exit outsourcing deals that have failed to deliver against expectations of service improvement, cost savings, and innovation. In 2015 the need for service integration capabilities, often called service integration and management (SIAM) or multisourcing services integration (MSI), will come to the fore. And this will happen not only for larger organizations replacing previously outsourced scenarios with multiple suppliers but also smaller organizations needing to manage a portfolio of third-party, often cloud service, providers.
  9. Continued mobile pervasiveness. Continued improvements in anytime, anywhere, any device access to data and services will continue to drive the need for better mobile apps and experiences, and the use of personal devices for work purposes. Not only will this dictate the need for better service and app design and delivery, and more intelligent approaches to BYOD, but also the need to consider the security implications of mobility such as data segregation issues – with personal and business data and applications isolated from each other on the same device.
  10. Wearables and the quantified worker. The Apple iWatch launch in 2015 will no doubt see a greater potential business use case focus on wearable computing. While employees might like the idea of a new gadget giving them access to alerts and short messages related to email, social media, schedules, travel plans, or the weather, the ability of wearables to provide location and productivity-related information about the employee might not be so appealing. 2015 will provide an exciting technology opportunity, but one that will need the corporate IT organization and its business partners to fully understand the human implications of new technology.
  11. Big Data. While there will continue to be big talk about Big Data, the real Big Data issue for 2015 will be the availability of Big Data people and their Big Data skills rather than Big Data technology itself. Not only from a tail-end analytics and insight perspective, companies will also need the people and skills for building the new data architectures required to handle unstructured data and real-time input, and other changes required as the increased focus on large data sets continues to disrupt business and IT operations.
  12. The Internet of Things (IoT), or the Internet of Everything (IoE). Most of us are probably bored to death of hearing about how the IoT will change IT forever. It seems as though it has been a long time coming – from IP address management through service/fault management to Big Data analytics. Then there is the security of a whole new breed of network-connected end points. 2015 will see IT organizations having to look beyond the traditional IT capabilities, such as availability and capacity management, to work closer with business colleagues on how these now-connected devices do, can, and will tie in to business operations and business models.
  13. Knowledge management will reappear. It’s been around since before the end of the last century but 2015 will see it appear on the IT agenda again – not only because of the replacement of people with automation and the associated potential for corporate knowledge loss, but also due to the rise in self-help and self-service. Organizations need to be clear about what they need though. Knowledge management has previously been held back by its name – knowledge isn’t valuable because it is managed, the value comes from its use and reuse. So look at knowledge management through a new lens, one of knowledge mining and knowledge exploitation.
  14. Software-defined everything will continue its advancement. You’ve probably already heard the talk of software-defined data centers or software-defined networks, where the control plane is abstracted from the hardware. It seems to be in vogue across all data center domains: software-defined servers now seem old hat; software-defined networking continues to mature; and software-defined storage is gaining interest. But this is about more than quickly moving from the old to the new state data center, notwithstanding the fact that the legacy data center might not want to change so quickly. It’s about increasing your agility, minimizing vendor lock-in, and improving your ability to serve the customers and consumers of your IT services.
  15. Unicorn chasing will continue. Whether it be the use of cloud technologies or DevOps thinking and operations, in 2015 enterprises will continue their fascination with the operations of technology giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Business leaders will also continue to ask why their corporate IT organizations can’t match these technology giants for unit costs, service levels, service experience, customer support, and agility. Thus, these technology unicorns will continue to be chased, and I’m not sure that 2015 or even 2016 or even 2017, for that matter, will be the year that they are caught.
So that’s my 15 trends – what would you have included in, or omitted from, the list?