As we round the corner on another completed year, ambitious leaders are looking ahead to stay on top of emerging trends. IT has always been a fast-moving game, and 2018 will offer no reprieve on that front. As the person who makes major decisions for your IT department, you need to keep a big-picture mentality to hit 2018 with full force. Some of these trends are dwindling, and others are just getting started, but these are the four most important to consider and prepare in the coming weeks.
Get to the Cloud
If you don’t have active and holistic cloud integration by now, you are late to the party. It’s ok to be late as long as you stop procrastinating. Cloud services secure data, improve efficiency and empower staff to work the way that suits them best. It’s evolved far beyond a simple gimmick or luxury for your business. Cloud access is vital to modern applications in every single industry. Your entire staff needs to have consistent, reliable access to their electronic tools no matter where they are, and cloud access is the most effective way to provide it.
Improve Talent Acquisition and Retention
You may have heard mention of the IT talent gap by now. If it’s still a hazy concept, here it is in simple terms. IT grows exponentially more complicated every year. The talent required to stay ahead of trends grows alongside that technology. Every company is forced to fight harder and harder to recruit the right people because for now, the IT talent needs are growing faster than the workforce. In 2018, you need to fight with competitors for new hires.
The demand is higher than the supply right now. If you’ve seen even the slightest trouble with talent acquisition and retention, you need to audit the entire process. What perks can you afford to add? Are you really in touch with what new IT professionals want and need? There are abundant resources to help you streamline your process and packages, so don’t hold back. Talent is harder to find and more expensive to maintain than hardware; make sure your IT budget is structured accordingly.
Keep an Eye on AI
AI is fast developing from infancy to adolescence. It isn’t completely ready for every business or every industry, but it will be soon. You need to keep a sharp, talented eye on what artificial intelligence can do for your business. You might be able to jump on a development bandwagon, but you might need to be leading the charge. It depends on the scope of your business, but sooner or later you’ll be making a move. If you aren’t going to contribute to AI development, you at least need to prepare by looking over your infrastructure, hardware and labor assets. Do you have enough bandwidth and processing power to implement AI as soon as it’s ready? Is your team primed to make such demanding changes? By the end of 2018, you’ll probably need both of these questions to be yes’s.
Revamp Your Cyber Security
Are you starting to believe the importance of acquiring talent yet? AI is no small challenge that will inevitably (and sooner than you think) face your business. Cybersecurity is already past that point. If you stop to think, you can probably name direct competitors who have suffered a large data breach. You might even be among those names. Even if you’ve survived so far, staying ahead of security risks is a tireless pursuit. The game changes on a near daily basis, and if you want to avoid the often revenue tanking embarrassment of a data leak, you can’t ease up for a moment. In fact, you probably need to expand your security team and see if you have any extra room in the budget for their efforts. It’s an expensive venture, but failure will always cost more.
A few other trends will push your decisions over the next few years, but they won’t reach full importance in the next year. They include virtual and augmented reality, blockchain applications and telecom changes.
We’ll see a lot of things happen over the next year, and a list like this for 2019 will certainly come with major updates. Until then, enjoy the holidays and the end of the year, and best of luck in 2018.
About the Author: Jeff Poirior
Jeff brings 25 years of telecommunications and information technology management experience in voice and data networking, server support, and telephony and security; with a significant emphasis on customer service. Prior to joining Valicom, he was chief of the infrastructure support section for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Jeff was the vice president of operations for CC&N, overseeing telecommunications, help desk, data, and desk side support services. Prior to that, he served as the associate director of technical resources for Covance, responsible for managing systems and network operations supporting 1700 users in Wisconsin and Virginia. He has also led data center operations at Magnetek Electric, supporting mainframe systems, client/server applications, telephony systems, and computer-aided design. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. In addition, Jeff is a past board member of the Wisconsin Telecommunication Association.