Stay Up to Date with the Latest Trends in IT

No single area of business experiences more frequent changes than Information Technology (IT). What is popular today may not remain popular for long. As a result, looking into the future is paramount for IT professionals who want to stay on top of emerging IT trends, as opposed to simply reacting to them. While there are a lot of smaller trends in IT, four major trends stand above the rest as heralds of what the IT landscape will look like in the coming years.
Cloud Computing
No trend in IT has had more of an impact on the way business is done than cloud computing, and its current popularity is just the tip of the iceberg. While the term “cloud computing” has grown to encompass a wide variety of IT innovations, at its core the cloud allows most IT tasks to be self-service or automatic, allowing IT pros to expand server capacity on the fly. The public cloud enables many businesses to consolidate their IT tasks in large data centers, allowing IT professionals to shift their focus toward application development and IT innovation.

Smarter Computing
As data centers consolidate and grow more powerful and effective, there is a need to relieve IT professionals of some of the tasks that currently take up their time. Part of the goal of artificial intelligence is to design machines that can handle many optimization tasks. While the world is still quite far from true artificial intelligence, recent trends show that the concept of a more intelligent IT infrastructure is taking hold. The push is being led by companies like IBM and its' Watson supercomputer.  A number of other major players are also working on creating systems designed to monitor and provide optimization automatically so IT personnel don’t have to be involved in many day-to-day tasks.

Social Networking 
Over the past few years, the concept of social networking has exploded into the mainstream, and IT is now forced into supporting an organization's social presence. Customers are increasingly relying on social networking platforms as a means to contact businesses. In addition, the marketing aspects of social networking can’t be underestimated. For IT, the challenge is in aligning existing customer relationship management (CRM) systems with a wide variety of social networking applications and websites to avoid missing an important customer contact point as the populace shifts toward new technology. For this same reason, IT professionals may also need to predict which social networking offerings will gain traction in the near future. Businesses are also discovering the advantages of using social networking as a form of internal communication, allowing employees from different divisions or even on different continents to seamlessly communicate. IT professionals play a role in maintaining internal communications systems, so if social networking is added into the mix, IT pros should be prepared.

Data Security
The growth of consolidated data centers has given rise to issues surrounding security. Every business, large or small, needs security protocols. In the past, only IT departments in government agencies and banks needed high-grade security systems, but the hacking incidents that took place throughout 2011 show that anyone who collects customer data needs a way to protect it. Every day new innovations are being built—including the adoption of more sophisticated encryption technologies and the development of behavior-based security protocols. Yet criminal activity continues to impact many IT departments and businesses. This means the need for reliable security measures will only increase the need for investment in IT security in the coming years.

Recognizing the trends in IT will help businesses understand where they need to be in a few years’ time, and help them get a jump on the competition. While some companies may rely on their current IT staff and management to predict these trends, others can require that incoming IT professionals understand where the industry is heading and help the company take advantage of those trends.

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