A triad of trends changing IT in 2016

By Laura Haight

No matter what industry you are in or how large or small your business may be, technology was likely a big factor in your year. A triad of trends held center stage in 2015 and are poised to become even more significant..

IT embraces other disciplines

A number of changes that matured in 2015 are forcing IT out of the data center. At the beginning of the year Deloitte slapped CIOs with the label of Chief Integration Officer and that has certainly come to fruition through the year. They need to “harness disruptive technologies … while balancing future needs with operational realities.”

Now that everyone has their own flavor of smartphone and tablet at work, the next inevitable step is using preferred applications, online services, social media and sharing methods. And it’s not only an employee expectation, but a customer one as well. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has evolved into BYOX (Bring Your Own Everything). Faced with these climate changes, Shadow IT is less “scorned”, Chuck Pol, president of Vodafone Americas, told Tech Republic.

I’ve written lots about Shadow IT - the reason it exists and the problems that it can create. But the fact is that it is just impossible to wrestle that demon to the ground; like Daenerys Targaryen, IT will just have to climb on its back and ride it.

A huge part of program and platform development has been in the marketing technology space. And Mike Locke, CEO of the Greenville-based Marketing Technology Association, knew this day would come. “What changed everything was the cloud,” he says. When software required licensing and installations on hard drives, controlling access was clearly in the IT domain. The cloud as a method not only of storage but of providing software services changed the dynamic. Now Locke sees a clear path for IT to build and police the road, while Marketing Technologists to take analytics, big data and marketing automation tools our for a spin.

As the profession of marketing technologist grows, Locke has his eye on an ambitious goal: “An iCar equivalency for marketing technology.” The vision is a campus under the aegis of Clemson or another university, and supported by some of the 2500 companies currently developing marketing technology. “About $32 billion will have been spent by 2020 on marketing technology, but there is not a single college that teaches - at the masters or doctoral level - anyone how to use it,”   Locke says.

How that vision develops remains to be seen, but in all disciplines - especially marketing - the silos got knocked down in 2015 and they aren’t going back up. This year, we’ll see if both IT and “everyone else” can share the road.

Taking Security Seriously

It was the “Year We All Got Hacked”. The ability to capture, store and analyze yottabytes (yes, that’s a real term) of data, comes at the same time when hackers, crackers and cybercriminals are increasingly finding ways to steal it. In 2015, a Duke University survey found that 80 percent of businesses - regardless of size - had been compromised by hackers and cybercriminals. Sixty percent of small businesses that are hacked are out of business within six months.

Faced with these harsh realities and coupled with a new climate that welcomes non-IT staff to take on traditional IT roles in testing, deploying and recommending new services and software, tech staff must “embrace the mindset that they have already been breached,” notes Intel Security CTO Steve Grobman. The challenge for 2016 is taking that as the default outlook and figuring out how to operate securely with inherent insecurity.

Finding the right staff

Greenville mirrors a national trend of not enough of the right IT people to fill the IT jobs. Jill Rose, president of Perceptive Recruiting, a Greenville agency specializing in IT, sees a number of changes in the hiring picture. The ability to hire remote staff for highly specialized roles drives companies to look outside of Greenville, pushing up salaries. Employers who can’t push their budget lines often find an inadequate pool of candidates. “We run ads and get no response or get candidates who are completely unqualified,” says Rose.

With Greenville’s emphasis on technology and innovation, that seems surprising. But to Rose the trend is clear: “When we get specialized positions, we have to go national or even global for a candidate pool.”

Another challenge facing IT hopefuls in this area is communication. “Just about everyone is customer-facing now,” says Rose. “And companies require good communication skills dealing with both internal and external customers. There is a large pool of candidates that just don’t have that.”

IT staffers have a large and visible role and Rose advises young people who want an IT career to prepare themselves for a lifetime of learning, changing and adapting. Expect to be going to school, in some way, for most of your career. Get a strong grounding in communication skills. And most importantly, find - and show - your passion.