Everyone gets nostalgic. How often do we hear phrases like, “Things just aren’t how they used to be” or “It wasn’t like that when I was young.” And it’s true. It wasn’t that long ago we were using fax machines, brick-size cell phones, camcorders, and the original “personal computer.” People often reflect on previous decades and the massive changes that have taken place over long stretches of time. But it’s interesting — because what’s more striking to me is how fast technology is changing over increasingly shorter periods of time. In enterprise tech, the degree to which tools, responsibilities, goals, threats, opportunities, and skills have evolved in even the last couple years is amazing — and I don’t expect that momentum to change any time soon.
So what’s in store for 2019? Technology will play a greater role in advancing business goals, and smart enterprises will leverage the network as a competitive differentiator. Here’s what else I predict will drive the IT industry next year:
For many years, the focus in the industry has been on software and applications. And rightfully so—there has been a lot of innovation and growth in those areas. But in 2019, we will see the pendulum shift to a renewed focus on infrastructure, only it will be smarter and faster.
2019 will be the year of intelligent hardware – of new multi-rate switches and next generation Wi-Fi. It will signify the start of a network refresh cycle that will pave the way for new business opportunities and technological advancements.
By now, everyone knows that improving the experience for customers is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction and sales. Because of that, businesses view customer experience as a key battleground and are constantly trying to up the ante. In 2019, look to the network to deliver the data intelligence, insights and contextual information needed to personalize engagement and deliver a superior customer-driven experience. Networks of 2019 will be smarter, leveraging AI/ML technology to learn the network, the users, their devices and their applications, to deliver a more personalized experience.
As witnessed in 2018, no business is immune to security breaches. Uber, Facebook, Marriott and Macy’s were all affected by breaches this year, and Gartner reports that 95 percent of CIOs expect cybersecurity threats to get worse.
2019 will see a continued focus on ‘everything’ security — network security, IoT security, wireless security, data security, etc. Expect new AI/ML augmented security offerings, enhanced security analytics, faster breach recognition and remediation, and greater collaboration between traditional networking and security vendors.
Companies like Amazon make headlines for the innovative ways they’re using technology to shake up retail. But make no mistake, there are several other industries that are on the leading edge of technology — education being perhaps the best example. In higher ed, augmented and mixed reality are poised for take-off in 2019. Virtual reality has earned a permanent role in most curricula, especially with the widespread use of Google Cardboard and Google Expeditions. Looking forward, if the number of AR sessions at Educause 2018 and ISTE 2018 are any indication, augmented reality will enable a new style of collaborative teaching, especially in the fields of healthcare, architecture, the arts, and design. Additionally, AI and machine learning are being applied to help with student retention, by better predicting which students will face difficulties, and to adaptive learning.
Regardless of size, location or industry, enterprises share a common goal: grow their business. To achieve that goal, we’re increasingly seeing a greater alignment between technology and business functions within an organization. The network must be able to integrate directly with business processes to fuel innovation. Look to AI/ML and automation capabilities to enhance operational efficiency, and adaptive multi-cloud solutions to diversify business models. 2019 is about technology driving outcomes for your business.
*This article was originally posted to Virtual Strategy Magazine on January 9, 2019.