Time for the IT manager's New Year resolutions

It may not be winter yet, but it’s not too early to look at what 2014 holds for the technology sector, believes Verizon.

Inside the Enterprise: It's that time of year again. The shops have opened their Christmas departments, mince pies are on sale in cafes, high streets have put up their decorations. And technology companies are dusting off their New Year predictions.

One of the first out of the blocks this year is Verizon. Despite or perhaps because they're early to the party, the US-based telecoms and services vendor's outlook is worth a deeper look.

For 2014, Verizon's Enterprise Services division is predicting a shift towards more individual control over technology. This is hardly a new trend, but the company believes the trend in enterprise IT will increasingly mirror that in consumer technology.

Centralised IT, and the IT department, will become less important. In their place come mobile devices, cloud technology, and applications re-written to take advantage of both.

The "Martini" approach to technology anytime, any place, anywhere has been touted by vendors and academics for some time.

At one level, it is already here. Your correspondent is (just) old enough to remember dictating articles to a copytaker from a smelly phone box, or struggling to connect early modems to hotel phone lines.

Now, a smartphone can send an article, a radio report, even a high-definition video in seconds. Consumers, for their part, think nothing of reading the news on a mobile, or indeed booking a flight, reserving a hotel room, or organising the Christmas shopping.

Verizon sees this trend as a move towards a "customer of one", where commerce will be personalised to the individual, with targeted and context-aware offers. At the back end, this will be tied into advanced analytics.

Supporting this, machine to machine, or M2M, communications, which the provider believes will become cheaper, and easier to deploy.

These trends, in turn, will force businesses to "decentralise" their IT, with the technology becoming part of the business function it supports sales, marketing, operations, finance, or HR rather than solely the domain of the CIO. All parts of the business will need to invest more in IT, and understand it better. Analytics, again, will drive the demand and cloud will make the decentralisation possible.

At the same time, Verizon expects cloud technology to continue to mature, with providers building more intelligence into their platforms. In fact, given the growing volumes of data business generates, the cloud may be the only practical place to store and analyse it.

But IT also faces one, significant, hurdle: security. According to Verizon, security threats will continue to increase, but businesses lack expert security staff. And this is at a time when the demand from boards for investments in information security is expected to grow. Companies may be forced to look at security as a managed service, rather than an in-house resource.

Unless security is addressed, though, the other areas where IT can benefit the business will be held back. This is looks set to be one of the main issues for CIOs over the coming year. Perhaps it is too early for seasonal cheer just yet.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

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