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The future of IT: hype versus reality

(Image credit: Image Credit: lassedesignen / Shutterstock)

The temptation when talking about the big tech trends of 2017 is to be fantastical. Often, consumer-focused news pieces focus on the latest, all-singing, all-dancing piece of kit that makes for a good story. The business world, however, takes a more reasoned approach when evaluating technology adoption.

Since businesses have to worry about supporting computer hardware and the employees that use it over the long run, IT departments aren’t so quick to pick up new, unproven gadgets. IT professionals need to see clear use cases and legitimate benefits for the company before they’ll start implementing any new technology.   

To set the record straight on business adoption of cutting-edge technology, Spiceworks asked IT professionals across EMEA about their thoughts on the Future of IT and discovered which trends are here to stay and which are nothing more than hype.   

The Reality

The reality is that of the most vaunted emerging technologies, the IoT and AI are starting to gain real traction. This is underlined by the fact that nearly 80 percent of IT pros across EMEA believe IoT technology will be useful to their business practices in the next three to five years. By 2021, 56 percent of organisations in EMEA will have IoT devices deployed on their networks.

We’re not purely future gazing here; the impact is already being made today in businesses across multiple sectors, particularly in healthcare. In fact, 30 percent of healthcare organisations are currently make real use of IoT devices and an additional 50 percent plan them over the next five years. As these plans are realised, however, the primary concern among IT departments is security. The number of entry points into an organisation multiplies significantly as potentially insecure IoT devices join computer networks.   

AI is on a similar trajectory to IoT as 55 percent of IT pros believe it will be useful to their business practices in three to five years. Perhaps the most recognised strand of the technology is the intelligent digital assistant, also known as AI chatbots. Eighteen percent of organisations are already using such tools in their daily operations, and by 2021, 72 percent of organisations expect to use them.    

However, there are a couple tech giants that will continue to compete against one another in this particular field. Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are the most recognised players in this field though the balance of power between the two looks set to shift in 2017. By the end of 2017, 70 percent of organisations in EMEA expect to use Cortana, which is integrated into Windows 10. So if plans hold true, we will see it surge ahead of Siri as far as usage in the workplace is concerned.

Despite the positive signs we are seeing with regards to workplace adoption of these two flagship technologies, there are inevitably others that will struggle to make their mark in the world of business.  

The Hype

VR and 3D printing are two trends that won’t make the cut for businesses in the near term. For example, 3D printers have only been adopted by 7 percent of EMEA organisations to date while the same is true for virtual reality. The fact is that many businesses simply cannot foresee viable use cases for such technology and adoption is lagging as a consequence.    

However, in some sectors, these trends are proving more popular. Education has proved a leading light in terms of the use of 3D printers with 19 percent of EMEA organisations in the sector currently using them. As far as VR is concerned, the construction and engineering industry looks set to be its best home as 25 percent of businesses have plans to make use of it over the next five years, most likely to visualise technical drawings or floorplans of building developments. However, many industries are put off by the expense VR brings with it as 58 percent cited cost as the top barrier to adoption.

So despite the appeal of technologies such as VR and 3D printing, IT departments across EMEA have made it clear that practicality will always win over excitement and intrigue. Having said that, exciting times remain ahead for businesses across all sectors, provided they can manage the security concerns associated with IoT and AI.

As for the overall state of IT in the workplace of the future, the reality is that the potential of where future tech can take us is quite inspiring, despite the hype.   

Image Credit: lassedesignen / Shutterstock

Peter Tsai
Peter Tsai is an IT Analyst at Spiceworks. Formerly a systems administrator, programmer, and server engineer who has lived IT from the inside and out, Peter now works to serve up IT articles, reports, infographics, and livecasts that inform and entertain millions of IT pros in Spiceworks worldwide.