IT trends are ever changing. Information technology evolves all the time, and the application of information technology evolves along with it.

There’s no question IT trends are having a big effect on business. Here’s a look at some of the latest IT trends that could impact the way your company operates in the near future.

1—The Cloud and Everything as a Service (XaaS)

The cloud isn’t a fad—it isn’t going anywhere. Rather, everything seems to be migrating towards the cloud.

First there was Software as a Service (SaaS). Instead of buying software and installing it onto your hardware, you could just rent the software and access it online through a subscription.

SaaS was a game-changer because it took maintenance out of IT’s hands and put it into the provider’s hands.

Not only did companies get full maintenance, they got the latest version of the software because providers performed continuous updates. Companies didn’t need to manage their own software anymore.

Next came Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Building on SaaS, IaaS providers started offering online data storage and management, along with networking in the same way SaaS providers were offering software.

After IaaS came Platform as a Service (PaaS). A mix of SaaS and IaaS, PaaS enables programmers to develop their own applications online on someone else’s infrastructure. Again, the goal was to release companies from having to maintain infrastructure.

So, what’s next? Everything as a Service (XaaS). Basically, companies are starting to view the IT strategy from a cloud-first perspective. No matter what it is, they want it in the cloud to reduce infrastructure and the associated costs and resource drains.

XaaS takes us to a point where everything will come as a cloud-based offering—from infrastructure to data storage to software to hardware to cloud monitoring and more.

2—Big Data

We’ve been hearing about this one for a while as well. The idea behind big data is that you’ve got all this data at your fingertips (on your servers, in the cloud, in your analytics) that you could be using to improve your business processes, products and services.

To use an analogy, big data enables you to see the forest so you can better navigate the trees.

If you’re lost in the woods, you can pick a direction and walk that way until you emerge from the trees. It may not be the shortest route out, but you know you’ll get there eventually. On the other hand, you can climb a tall tree (theoretically), get your bearings and choose the shortest route out.

If you want to reach your customers on social media, you can publish posts at various points in the day and hope for the best. Or you can collect data on when your customers are most active on social media and publish your posts at those times.

It sounds fairly straightforward, but big data is quite complex and an entire discussion (or discussions) in and of itself. To turn big data into business intelligence, we’re talking about massive amounts of data, advanced algorithms and new skillsets for IT personnel.

3—Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is a no-brainer. Automation is finding its way into almost every industry these days, so to see it in IT trends is not a surprise.

What will be interesting to watch is how artificial intelligence plays a role in automation as we move forward.

Up to now, companies have applied automation where they can, to gain efficiencies in certain areas. The next step, however, is system-wide implementation. Learning machines, systems and applications will, obviously, play a big role in this next step.

AI has been a part of the IT trends conversation for a long time. It’s poised to take a role in IT, but maybe not the one that immediately comes to mind.

When people say AI, the sci-fi nerd in us tends to think of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Terminator or Ex Machina or some other apocalyptic vision of intelligent machines or androids failing or turning on their creators.

We may get to that point—at least the intelligence machines or androids part. (Let’s hope we don’t get to the apocalyptic part.)

Artificial intelligence is advancing, in large part because of advancements in algorithms, massive pools of data with which to work and parallel processing.

But while we may eventually develop intelligent, sentient machines, it’s not right around the corner. What is right around the corner, however, is machine learning and intelligent applications and systems.

4—Intelligent Applications and Systems

Through deep learning and neural networks, intelligent systems will be able to learn, adapt and even predict behaviors. Essentially, they’ll be able to work on their own.

However, intelligent apps are not limited to new digital assistants – every existing software category from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP will be infused with AI enabled capabilities.

Using AI, technology providers will focus on three areas — advanced analytics, AI-powered and increasingly autonomous business processes and AI-powered immersive, conversational and continuous interfaces.

By 2018, Gartner expects most of the world’s largest 200 companies to exploit intelligent apps and utilize the full toolkit of big data and analytics tools to refine their offers and improve customer experience.

Gartner

5—Intelligent Cyber-Security

A natural and very important extension of AI and machine learning as it applies to IT systems comes in the area of cyber-security.

It’s very hard to stay on top of all the latest tricks hackers are using to compromise information technology systems.

By the time IT professionals have learned about and learned how to defend against a particular tactic, hackers have already moved on to the next one. This is where system intelligence could play a big role.

For any cyber-security effort to be effective, it has to learn and adapt. That’s what cybercriminals do every day—they adapt their methods of attack as we adapt our methods of defense. It’s a constant evolution.

Using machine learning, we may be able to develop systems that can analyze the big data that we have regarding cyber-attacks and use that data to predict methods that hackers will use in the future.

IT Trends for the Near Future

IT is in a constant state of flux. It changes on a daily basis. And, as it does, it changes the way IT departments and companies operate.

From the cloud to artificial intelligence to machine learning, some of these IT trends could have profound effects on the way we do business.

 

By Charlie Smith