No one has a crystal ball that can predict the future but it’s certainly human nature to try! The end of one year and the beginning of the next prompts a flurry of such reflection. Fortunately, since we don’t have a crystal ball, most prognosticators rely on information – data, surveys, study results, economic facts and figures, etc. – to make educated guesses. Often enough, the predictions are correct and it behooves us to pay attention; why?
If you’re a business owner, understanding the latest trends and predictions can provide insight into how to run your company, from opportunities to expand to developing innovative new products. If you’re an IT professional, looking at where the industry is going can help you understand how to keep your skills relevant and your career rewarding. Finally, following the trends and predictions is important so we can know which jobs and skill sets are or will be in demand. That will show where salaries will likely be rising, where longer hiring cycles can be expected, and where it will be more difficult to fill positions. All of this information can lead to better workforce planning and smarter hiring decisions at the business level, and can help individuals make wiser choices about short and long term career plans.
For the last few months my inbox has been full of various articles looking ahead to 2014 and what it will bring in terms of the IT industry. Here’s my summarization of the 5 things people are talking the most about.
- BIG DATA – It’s been a hot topic for several years now but this may be the year we start to see real application and significant growth in use. A study by International Data Group (IDG) reports that 70% of enterprise organizations have either deployed big data projects already or are planning to. Companies, mostly large organizations as opposed to small and midsize businesses, are expected to spend $8M on average for big data initiatives and programs. 19% plan on hiring in the next year and half, good news for data programmers, business analysts, data analysts, engineers and data architects. As people really understand what the term big data means and how it can be used, growth will continue.
- MOBILE – There’s no hype involved here – mobile is scorching hot. It has been for the past several years and it shows no sign of letting up. Everyone has a mobile strategy or should. Gartner listed Mobile Devices and Management and Mobile Apps and Applications as 2 of the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends. They also predict that worldwide PC, Tablet, Ultramobile and Mobile Phone shipments will grow 7.6 % and that the Android OS is “on pace to surpass one billion users across all devices in 2014.” The demand for professionals with mobile experience is almost frenetic. There is tremendous opportunity with this kind of expected growth.
- THE CLOUD – Cloud adoption seems to be moving at a faster pace than expected. There’s been recent big news about the CIA engaging Amazon for cloud services. Expect big growth in all areas related to cloud computing. This matters from a business (how will you harness the cloud’s power to improve your business), a strategic (is this a new market you should be in?), and an employment standpoint (what skills are needed to take advantage of the career opportunities?). 3 of Gartner’s Top 10 are cloud related: Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker, Cloud/Client Architecture, and The Era of the Personal Cloud. It’s hard to decide where the most growth potential lies, but as people increase their use of mobile devices and life becomes more and more connected, personal cloud services will need to keep pace.
- TALENT – The competition for the top talent is fierce and growing fiercer. Companies are struggling to fill positions, particularly in hot job categories and skill sets. Everyone seems to be doing something to address the lack of enough qualified STEM professionals to fill open positions today, and in the future. From investing in training for their current workforce to targeting top performers before they graduate, to offering salaries, benefits, and referral bonuses that are as high as they’ve been in years, companies are having to get creative to fill the void. Expect this to continue unabated in 2014. Conversations about immigration reform, H1-b Visas and other options to close the gap will again be important topics for our business and political leaders.
- SECURITY – One only needs to think about the recent breaches at Target, SnapChat, Michael’s, Neiman Marcus and, who knows, maybe someone else by the time this is published, to understand why this is a growth sector. The BYOD trend also raises concerns for businesses as their workforce increasingly is connected 24/7 but often working on their own device. Security concerns are top of mind now and that’s not likely to change in the near future. The growing interconnectedness of our devices and the incredible growth in usage guarantee that privacy and security will be hot areas, offering business and employment opportunities in 2014.
As you probably already know, there are seemingly countless articles on what 2014 will bring and numerous other ideas and trends that smart people are talking about. These 5 just seemed like the most prevalent that many, including myself, seem to agree will be important. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. What do you think the big trends for this year will be?
President and CEO