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A Forward Look: Riding the Digital Waves of 2015

Concept of divergence with branching arrows

At year’s end, I always find myself looking back over the previous 12 months and then, inevitably, I can’t help but look forward to the coming year. Since I’m in the information technology business, this exercise can be pretty interesting.

Technology trends translate into products and services that matter, but when you hear about technologies like web-scale IT, cloud bursting, advanced analytics, self-aware apps, context-rich systems, software-defined networks, etc. – well, it’s hard to keep your eyes from glazing over. So I’ll narrow it down to two waves coming at all of us:

Rise of social media, mobile tech, and the Internet of things

If it hasn’t yet, the consumerization of IT will impact you soon. When it does, you’ll start (if you haven’t already) to care about analytics. Security issues loom large and will require new emphasis on risk assessment, adaptive access controls, and security-aware application design, among other things.

Next year, Gartner predicts, new types of disruptive businesses combining digital markets with physical logistics—think Airbnb or Uber—will continue to challenge legacy business models. By 2016, mobile digital assistants will handle more than $2 billion in online shopping, and by 2017, half of US digital commerce revenue will come from customers using mobile devices and apps.

Digitizing everything triggers disruptive new processes

Real and virtual worlds are intertwining, injecting machine intelligence where it’s never been before, including entirely new kinds of business processes.

Next year, Gartner anticipates seeing the first of super-agile business processes that adjust dynamically to support unpredictable customer interactions requiring on-the-spot decision-making. By 2017, 70% of successful digital business models will rely on such processes.

Look for granular real-time mapping capabilities that allow retailers to target customers based on location and time-in-store data by 2016. Retailers using such technologies will boost sales 5% by 2020.

By 2018, digital business processes will have changed so much that the number of required business process workers will drop by 50% while the number of “key digital jobs” will grow by 500%. Meanwhile, business operations TCO will fall by 30% due to use of smart machines and industrialized services.

Preparing for what’s next: the 4 elements

Fortunately, the future arrives piecemeal. You’re already prepared if your business has today’s four technology basics in place:

  1. A reliable, efficient, smoothly operating data network and infrastructure
  2. A solid, layered security posture addressing networks, applications, data, and user access
  3. A Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery capability that includes data backup/replication
  4. A trusted, experienced, vendor-neutral technology advisor who can help you plan and realize your digital future

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