As the year draws to a close, information technology teams are focused on completing projects during holiday breaks to minimize disruption to business. They are performing annual tasks related to data retention and system cleanup and generally assuring day-to-day operations continue without interruption.
Amidst the flurry of activity, we are also looking ahead to some of the leading technology trends that will impact business in the coming year.
1. “Internet of things” (IoT). The network of physical “smart” devices — those embedded with software and electronics, connected to a network to collect and exchange data — will continue to expand. More than 3.6 billion devices connected to the internet are in daily use.
Smart devices are diverse, ranging from wearables, to cars, to sensor devices, radio-frequency identification and more. The use of these devices is a key driver of digital transformation in many industry segments such as manufacturing and health care. Smart cities are using this technology to manage lighting, traffic, energy and more. This smart hardware can be sophisticated and inexpensive. When choosing to use these devices in a business setting, it is important to consider the security risks associated with the device and to design the network accordingly.
2. Expanded use of these interconnected devices increases traffic on the already congested web. This traffic will drive demand for an expanded fifth-generation (5G) network. When available, 5G promises to be up to 100 times faster than current fourth-generation (4G) technology and 10 times faster than current broadband connectivity.
Until then, connectivity and speed considerations are key to planning for the inclusion of smart devices in the delivery of IT service.
3. Proliferation of smart devices presents new security challenges. Endpoint security tools will be needed to manage these devices in business and personal settings. IT will bring forward solutions for data loss prevention, controlled access to applications, and network health and security monitoring to meet challenges emerging from the IoT.
4. Cloud computing and the edge. Many businesses are leveraging the benefits of cloud computing and this trend continues to grow. Movement of applications and services to public or private clouds, coupled with the volume of traffic produced by connected devices, and the cost of wide area network service drives us to consider how edge computing can help us to keep traffic local and to reduce latency.
The goal of edge computing is to process data closer to the point of creation, before it is sent to the cloud. This will lessen the amount of data sent to data centers or the cloud.
Businesses will be hearing more about edge options and how to secure the edge in 2019. While working to decrease network traffic, redundant connectivity to the internet will continue to be important for a reliable system.
5. Cyber security is a continuing and growing concern across all elements of IT. Attacks will continue to become more sophisticated as hackers employ the latest and greatest tools available, including artificial intelligence. Zero-trust security models analyze behaviors of those accessing your data to more stringently control access. Dual-factor or biometric authentication may be warranted. Solutions to combat cyber threats may include AI, machine learning and blockchain technology.
A well-executed IT security strategy is critical in 2019. Begin with an assessment of your current IT security.
6. Machine learning and AI will see expanded use in the smart technologies populating IoT as well as in security solutions. Twenty percent of businesses plan to implement some AI in 2019. The IT implications of these deployments range from those pertaining to use and policy, to technical aspects such as availability of specialized AI chips to provide processing power AI requires.
Soni Lampert is the principal and CEO of KLH Consulting Inc. in Santa Rosa.