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Staying on the cutting edge of an evolving IT world

April 21, 2014

Whereas IT resources were once at the periphery of an organization's activities, supporting it from behind, they're now increasingly working their way into the very heart and soul of a business's core strategic operations. As technology advances, enterprises are transforming their own practices, taking advantage of new opportunities and using technology in innovative ways. Consequently, tech experts—who are already in high demand for a growing number of IT jobs—are frequently expected to offer their insights on how cutting-edge technological opportunities could help their organizations gain a competitive edge.

In short, today's technology-driven environment sees IT as a disrupter and a game-changer. As an information technology professional, are you prepared to make an insightful, creative impact on your employer's business approach and processes? For starters, you should be familiar with some of the biggest tech trends that are revolutionizing enterprises and organizations in diverse fields.

Staying on the cutting edge
Industry experts frequently point to a number of key technological developments that are already making an impact in their fields and have extraordinary potential to do even more. Here are a few of the biggest tech trends that are expected to transform a wide range of sectors:

  • Distributed innovative processes: From agile development strategies to an emphasis on collaborative workspaces, tech pros are creating and shaping their projects in more open, integrated ways. Forbes contributor John Foley of Oracle explained that research and development teams are working through more "iterative process[es]" to help businesses stay on the cutting edge of innovation in a rapidly evolving environment. Additionally, technology is also being used to support such endeavors across fields, with workers using file sharing and messaging services to bolster their team initiatives.
  • Big Data opportunities: Foley noted that relatively few businesses have been able to successfully bring their Big Data initiatives to their full potential. Nonetheless, corporate leaders are aware of the opportunities presented by Big Data methods and seek industry-specific solutions to help them capitalize on their resources.
  • Cloud computing: It's hard to miss the impact that the cloud is having on IT networks as an increasing number of enterprises take advantage of diversified cloud hosting options. Robust, agile cloud platforms also open the door to additional possibilities for real-time data processing, empowering stakeholders to make in-the-moment strategic decisions.
  • Social media: Social networks' reach has extended beyond teens and college kids for a long time now. The Globe and Mail pointed to a recent LinkedIn study that indicated 80 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses already utilize social media, with noticeable benefits. Businesses are taking advantage of this platform for engaging potential customers, but they need fine-tuned strategies to make sure their content isn't getting lost in the deluge.
  • Mobile: From apps to security oversight, workplace mobility requires a strong degree of IT support. Nonetheless, it's taking the corporate world by storm as employees seek convenient, intuitive tools to do their jobs whether they're in the office or working remotely. Companies also need customer-facing mobile strategies to respond to shifting consumer preferences and behaviors.
  • Internet of Things: With more devices furnished with sensors and connected to the Internet, organizations have extensive opportunities to collect information, monitor behavior and refine operational strategies. Forbes contributor Chunka Mui observed that sensors and cameras present abundant chances for businesses to implement creative new methods, whether aimed at marketing, engagement, physical security, production or other purposes.
  • Virtualization: Virtualization and service-based technologies have made it easier for organizations to move their operations to co-located platforms and the cloud, Craig Wright, principal of Pace Harmon, told CIO magazine. This sort of transformation creates the need for different types of IT support while also presenting opportunities for businesses to expand and broaden their digital resources and operations.
  • Automation: Automated processes are also shaping today's data center, Wright added. The software-defined data center offers a unified platform but necessitates sophisticated orchestration and planning to ensure all the pieces fall into place.

Strategic insights for IT pros
How might these evolving technology trends impact your IT career? You might encounter more opportunities to offer advice on how to implement new technologies in creative, game-changing ways for businesses. In addition, these developments could shape the skills, knowledge and approaches you need.

For example, Foley noted that data analytics, cloud computing and other tools are fueling more real-time decision making—for all employees. Industries are also integrating, he added, with cross-sector cooperation that requires new business practices and models. Having knowledge of a wide range of industries and a sense of how they can intersect, particularly from an IT standpoint, could prove to be a valuable asset.

Furthermore, CIO magazine emphasized the importance of honing skills related to these increasingly important trends, such as cloud computing. IT network systems should be designed for high-density platforms, while taking legacy applications into consideration, the magazine added. Finally, IT pros need to seek the right balance between tried-and-true, dependable solutions and cutting-edge opportunities. They should think like users to ensure the final solution is intuitive and usable.

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