We're a week into the new financial year. Now that the finance team has calmed down and budgets for the next year are finalised it's a good chance for IT leaders to take a breath and look ahead. We are in the middle of a time of massive change so planning ahead has never been more challenging. What are some of the technologies you should be tracking and planning for?
AI is here to stay. While big data was a must-have item on everyone's buzzword bingo cards a few years ago, we've moved on from collecting and storing lots of data from disparate sources to using that data to aid decision making,
Humans aren't able to keep up so we rely on machines to do the work.
The ability to pull together lots of compute, storage and communications using the cloud has made AI accessible in new ways. Access to platforms such as Newton, as well as the rise of AWS, Azure and other cloud platforms means you can start to look for ways to use AI to support the business. And it means you can retrain your IT team for higher-value activities where humans are valuable rather than on hack work trawling through data.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, there are all sorts of places where blockchain can be used as a platform to better support business functions.
The most obvious one for many businesses will be for sharing data, within the network, between parties that need to collaborate but who use different systems that can't be easily linked or shared.
Look for places where blockchain can bring together data from disparate sources rather than thinking purely about blockchain as a cryptocurrency system.
Data, device and application independence
Anywhere and anytime access to business data from any device isn't new. But many analyst reports (like this one sponsored by SOTI) suggest many businesses still aren't on board.
Look for the low hanging fruit for data that can be shared relatively easily or for legacy applications that are costing a fortune to maintain (or can't be maintained) as candidates for replacement with on-prem or cloud solutions that can deliver data from any device.
I think we also need to look at ensuring data is separate from applications. As we use more SaaS and other cloud applications it's important to ensure your data is not locked to a specific application wherever possible.
Security has become harder and harder to manage. In the main, I think this is because we have been caught in a reactive cycle where the bad guys either do something new or introduce enough variation in an old attack to overcome the security measures we have in place.
Stepping back, identifying all your assets and then putting appropriate controls in place to mitigate the risks for each major asset is critical. And reducing the number of security solutions and vendors you have a good place to start as integrating different security appliances and applications is hard.
According to Cisco enterprises have, on average, as many as 70 different security vendors operating in their networks. Pulling all those logs together and making sense of the data is hard work.
You don't have to do everything yourself. Look for opportunities to pattern with service providers, vendors and professional organisations to help you keep abreast of emerging trends, and to enhance your knowledge and skills.
Also, make it part of your plan to work more closely with your business stakeholders. In the 20 years I've worked in the IT industry, one of the biggest changes I've seen is the increased knowledge of IT outside the IT department. IT is no longer the fount of knowledge of all things with a power cable connected.
The traditional IT department is fading away, replaced by a group of business and tech savvy experts who are enablers of business outcomes rather than the "computer and network delivery department".