IT in 2014: the rise of the machines

IT Pro's contributing editor Stephen Pritchard looks forward to 2014, and predicts that automation will come to the fore.

Business-facing cloud services are employing automation, too, to allow non-technical staff to configure servers or indeed, a technician to manage a large number of cloud-based systems from a single PC or even a tablet. And IT vendors are starting to introduce pre-configured and pre-tested configurations of large systems, including software and hardware, which CIOs should be able to run with little in the way of set up.

But the two areas where automation looks set to be essential, in 2014 and beyond, are security and communications.

Mobile industry types have predicted the growth of machine to machine communications for years. And with Mobile World Congress just over a month away, vendors will be setting out their stores again.

This time, though, the growth in low-cost sensors, and more applications that make use of them, suggest that the Internet of Things could be much closer to reality.

Applications from smart buildings, to industrial plant and machinery, connected cars, and surveillance (the CCTV, not the Snowdon kind) rely on M2M. So to do supply chains and logistics. Smart systems are giving way to the idea of the smart, connected, or instrumented business.

Not only does this create vast amounts of data, it needs intelligent systems to make sense of it all, and turn the stream of event information into business decisions.

The other area where automation is not just useful, but essential, is security. The security predictions for 2014 are too numerous to list, but it is sufficient to say that hardly anyone predicts fewer threats.

In fact, the volume of threats and breaches is such that security teams are struggling to keep up. There is simply too much information for the human brain to process.

Automating security systems to improve monitoring and so detection of cyber attacks will be a key part of security spending in 2014 and a key area for IT investment.

It is one area where spending now will save money later.

Have a safe and prosperous 2014.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

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