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February 04, 2014
By Vanessa Ulrich

There were plenty of headlines in the tech world this past month, but here’s a recap of the topics that had us buzzing in the office, and our thoughts on how they fit into the bigger picture for IT. From Google’s acquisitions to massive security breaches, the role of IT in healthcare to deciphering IT forecasts, these stories speak to the trends we’ll be following all year long.

Google Acquires Nest

Google got its foot in the door of the smart devices business in early January, with the $3.2 billion cash purchase of Nest. They followed up by adding robotics company DeepMind to Google’s portfolio last week. Can we expect a smoke detector that will identify the source of a fire and extinguish it? Maybe.

Witty tweets aside, the Nest acquisition is significant because it means a lot more than thermostats and smoke detectors. Marcus Wohlson at Wired put together a nice list of everything Google really bought with that money. Your privacy could be is one. The Internet of Things is quickly turning every detail of our lives life into data, collected and stored—even brushing your teeth. How long will it take for consumers to claim ownership of their private information?

Target and Neiman Marcus Security Breaches

Target’s initial announcement that 40 million customers had their data compromised in a POS breach over the holidays was bad enough. Then they updated us that, you know, the number was a teensy bit closer to 110 million. That was just the tip of the iceberg—Neiman Marcus admitted that its customer data has been compromised as well. Yikes! And we thought doing things analog was safe. (Because really, who was surprised when Snapchat and Skype were hacked?)

As we create and store more data, companies will need to make sure they stay on top of new security issues, like people stealing info from your wearable tech. It’s scary to think that only 15 percent of IT and business leaders say they’re “extremely confident” that their company has the security-related skill sets needed to deal with evolving threats. We can expect to see more resources going towards security hiring and initiatives. In fact, IT leaders polled in our 2014 IT Forecast expect to spend 59 percent more on information security than they did last year.

A Changing Landscape for Healthcare IT

Healthcare is an industry that is clearly shaping up to be a hot topic in the media this year. is finally up and running (though its security is questioned), the deadline for ICD-10 is impending, and data (whether it’s Smart or Big) gears up to change how medical records are recorded, accessed and used. Meanwhile, industry-wide cybersecurity drills scheduled for March aim to alleviate some of the huge cost of cyberattacks to the healthcare industry each year. We’ll be tuned in to see if 2014 really is the year of the healthcare consumer.

IT Forecasts for 2014—Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Last quarter, almost 900 IT leaders conveyed a tone of cautious optimism as they considered the trends that would impact their departments in 2014. But our IT Forecast wasn’t the only survey that sought to understand what we could expect from the next 12 months.

David Weldon from FierceCIO put it well when he wrote, “IT professionals will be forgiven if they feel very confused about their true value these days.” Other forecasts predicted everything from enthusiastic hiring in 2014, to total hiring slowdown due to decreases in the national IT job market. It all depends on the angle of the lens when the snapshot is takenhow the data is being interpreted (what does this number mean?), how it’s being categorized (are telecomm workers considered IT?) and what data is being used as a source in the first place (my grandmother says…).

A forecast by definition contains a dose of uncertainty, and the outlook can shift between industries, job roles and points in time. After all, tech is always changing. Who knows what IT trends we’ll be pondering over this time next year... Until then, we’ll be following FierceCIO’s weekly series examining 2014 in IT as it unfolds.

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