“Only a fool trips on what’s behind him.” – former NFL star Ray Lewis, or possibly someone else.
Technology, like time, marches on. Amid all the retrospectives of the year gone by, it’s prudent to set our sights forward and prepare for the trends that will shape the channel in 2014. Last year was all about mobility, the maturation of Big Data, the emergence of gamification and the terror of advanced persistent threats.
While those technologies will continue to make their presence felt, for 2014 there’s a new set of tech trends on the radar. Here’s what we see shaking up the channel in the year ahead.
BYOS makes a name for itself
BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, is so last year. The hot buzz-acronym for 2014 stands for bring-your-own-security. The BYOS trend is shaping up in response to the almost-daily revelations of U.S. government snooping in the cloud, coupled with the general uneasiness about security in cloud computing. Expect to see a host of new managements systems filling the desire of organizations to control their own data security and encryption rather than leaving the keys in the hands of the cloud hosts.
Cloud service providers take over IT
Despite what you may have read, there will be plenty of servers, networking components and storage gear sold next year. Unfortunately for the IT vendors, most of it will be acquired by thrift-seeking cloud service providers, forcing a shift in the major manufacturers’ mindset to a “cloud-first” world. According to IDC, about one third of all server shipments next year will go to cloud data centers, a number that’s due to rise to 43 percent by 2017.
Big Data attracts big money
A spate of cloud-based platforms capable of streaming Big Data in real time is set to push investments up somewhere around 30 percent to an all-time high of $14 billion in 2014, according to IDC. The ease of the cloud and a growing hunger for analysis of externally-sourced data and applications will fuel an exponential increase in the number of data brokers and a tripling in spending on specialized Big Data analytics services. The segments only moderating force will be a dearth of skilled and certified personnel to run it all.
3D printing takes shape
It’s been the ultimate nascent technology for going on two years now, but a few things are heating up the 3D printing market, most notably bioprinting, the amazing if controversial ability to produce functioning organs and tissues in something that looks like a tricked-out toaster over. It may take years to sort out the medical and ethical ramifications of bioprinting, but the buzz around it has the manufacturing industry taking a hard look at additive printing technology for rapid prototyping and bespoke modeling. Time to amp up your chops on print beds, powder rollers and extruders.
Biometrics gain ground on passwords
Solution providers should expect to answer a lot more questions about fingerprint readers, retina scanners, facial recognition software and other biometrics tools that are poised to disrupt the way all users gain access to their accounts and data. Let’s face it, the day of the text string as the ultimate IT safeguard are over. Most any password made up of string of characters can be broken in minutes. And managing the increasingly complex passwords needed for the growing number of devices and accounts in the modern user’s life is unsustainably onerous. Expect to see demand for advanced authentication techniques, first at large organization, and then filtering down to SMBs.
Smart machines join hands, take over the world
It’s hard to say which dry, unfortunate name is less appealing from a marketing perspective: machine-to-machine (M2M) technology or the Internet of Things. Neither inspires much awe, quite honestly. But even while bland monikers may have kept connected devices and machine-language analysis out of the mainstream consciousness, the capabilities this space is enabling are formidable. Expect to see new partnerships with IT vendors and service providers to address a market that’s predicted to climb north of $8.9 trillion over the next five years with somewhere between 15 billion and 30 billion connected things churning out data that will need to be captured, stored, processed and analyzed.
Smart stuff shows up everywhere
Embedded systems are getting a jumpstart from the same kinds of technologies that have made smartphones ubiquitous in modern life. Small, touch-enable gadgetry and tiny, robust sensors are finding their way into all manner of devices and are poised to disrupt the ways users manage their homes and office building, drive their cars and manage their transportation fleets, and connect with their families, friends and clients. Cheaper, smaller and faster embedded technology is so good today, that it’s finally making wearable computing a reality after years of false starts. By the end of 2014, Google Glass, Nike Fuel and Samsung’s GlaxayGear will be but a few of many devices designed to attach to the user and leverage the power of embedded technology.
It’s all about the apps
We all know it’s a mobile first world now. Will anyone be surprised when 70 percent of all information work done in the enterprise will be accomplished on a mobile device by the end of next year? But the heady rise in mobility has done more than simply put a premium on mobile device management. It has plowed up fertile ground for an app-based world, where almost every task will be accomplished through a specialized mobile application. The app market is expected to reach $38 billion in two years, in part because of the growing need for proprietary applications to support business functions.
Social gets useful
Nobody hates cat videos and brunch pics more than us. The promise of social media to fuel the social enterprise has been mired in a lot of wasteful activity and negligible results for several years. But 2014 promises to be social technology’s breakout year for business, with social sharing aspects finding their way under the hood of a number of enterprise applications as well as establishing itself firmly as a strategic part of most all customer engagement and marketing efforts. It’s just smart business. Over the next three years, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies will have an active customer community, up from 30% today, according to IDC. And where is all that social information going? Right back into the enterprise’s product and service development efforts. Social technology deserves props in 2014, but please… no more selfies.
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