What do organisations need to prepare for in 2018?


2017 has been a year of highs and lows for the tech industry. Witnessing some of the most aggressive worldwide ransomware attacks in history – Petya and WannaCry to name just a couple – to seeing some of the biggest advancements in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G and the cloud; 2017 truly has been a remarkable year.

What, then, will 2018 have in store? With there being such a vast leap of advancements in the past 12 months alone, it’s exciting to think of what 2018 will bring to the IT industry. With this in mind, eight IT experts have shared their thoughts with ITProPortal as to what areas in the industry they predict will advance, and what new areas may become a risk for businesses.

Nigel Tozer, Director Solutions Marketing at Commvault, discusses brand image.

“As we move into 2018, companies will begin to invest in trust as a key area of brand image. In an increasingly cynical society, brands that can transcend the scepticism and mistrust of governments, fake news and exploitative ‘big business’ will both retain and win more customers, if they can attach this value to their digital transformation programs. Brand image is always a vital component in business, and never more so than the present day.”

Neil Stobart, Global Technical Director at Cloudian, talks about machine learning, AI and the benefits it will bring.

“The next year will see a steep advance in machine learning. I think we will see the number of use cases for it increasing rapidly, including for the development of applications and security improvements. The idea behind machine learning is relatively simple, but it is the first step to achieving Artificial Intelligence – by taking human input, machines are able to make quick decisions that were impossible before, which changes the game for many industries quite significantly.

“Machines are able to offer a large amount of storage and make decisions based on huge quantities of data in a matter of seconds - a task that might have taken humans years is completely simplified by approaching boring, but necessary, tasks with brute force and so taking the mundane and time-consuming jobs off of our hands to delivering results with true value.”

Partha Sen, CEO at Fuzzy Logix considers how the volume of business data will continue to increase, and the impact this will bring to the healthcare industry.

"Next year will bring about another deluge of data brought on by advancements in the way we capture it. As more hardware and software is instrumented especially for this purpose, such as IoT devices, it will become easier and cheaper to capture data. Organisations will continue to feed on the increased data volume while the big data industry struggles through a shortage of data scientists and the boundaries imposed by non-scalable legacy software that can’t perform analytics at a granular level on big data.

“Healthcare will especially be hard hit in this regard. Sources of huge healthcare data sets are becoming more abundant, ranging from macro-level sources like surveys by the World Health Organisation, to micro-level sources like next-generation Genomics technologies. Healthcare professionals are leveraging these data to improve the quality and speed of their services. Even traditional technology companies are venturing into this field. We expect the demand for innovative technical solutions in all industries, particularly healthcare to explode in popularity next year."

Dan Boccabella, VP Product Management at SumTotal, a Skillsoft company discusses ‘Gamification’.

 “Engagement is the name of the game for most industries nowadays, and when you get it right, it can be transformational. Look at TV shows like Pop Idol and The X Factor. Game shows were not a new idea. But bring in a panel of expert judges, public voting, a national audience and a live results night, and you get an industrial revolution on a global scale! It’s the same reason apps like Candy Crush rake in billions of dollars in revenue every year – tapping into ‘Gamification’ can be like jet fuel for audience engagement.

“Gamification in the enterprise is not a new idea, but efforts have often only focused on traditional, office-based workers. Enterprise mobility means work is now something people can do anytime, anywhere. This is changing the face of the enterprise – just look at the increasing popularity of remote working, flexible hours and the gig economy. But distance can result in a lack of engagement. As a result, companies need ways of making all workers feel integrated and engaged - even if they work tens, if not hundreds of miles away.

“2018 will see more companies using gamification to bring remote workers closer to the central hub of the business. Gamification enhances the experience of all workers, not just those based in the office. Creating leaderboards and challenges make these workers feel like they are part of the community, even if they’re working from another location or country. Often it’s simple factors – introducing virtual goals, progression metres, levelling, and experience points – that boost engagement the most. As more companies realise how effective these tools can be at engaging a remote workforce, we will see a bigger focus on enterprise gamification as a whole.”

Alex Chircop, CTO at StorageOS believes the adoption of Cloud Native Storage solutions in production will accelerate

“Moving into 2018, we will see the rise of orchestrated container platforms. They will become fundamental for both on-premises and cloud platforms for the deployment and management of applications. Cloud native storage solutions will also become essential for running containers in production. This will allow developers to achieve improved performance, high availability and security across their applications.”

Nigel Kersten, Chief Technical Strategist at Puppet discusses automation and the workplace.

“In 2018, we will see more demands placed on the continuous delivery of changes to networking setups due to pressure from containerisation, distributed systems, and security needs. Thus, networking must become as flexible and automation-friendly as the software that runs over it, and become less of a bottleneck.”

“Next year, in the Infrastructure as Code space, the successful tools will be those that are accessible across the organisation, don’t require but can optionally leverage technical programming skills, and can deal with modelled infrastructure and handle one-off declarative tasks.”

Jake Madders, Director at Hyve Managed Hosting believes that GDPR and security will be the most talked about topic.

“Tech doesn’t offer many certainties for 2018, but we can guarantee it’ll be all about security. It’s a safe bet that as soon as GDPR lands in May, there’ll be a huge data breach. The talking points will be around the huge fines which will follow. The public sector will continue to be both a target and source of serious security problems (think ransomware and human error). And speaking of ransomware, there are organisations out there who will still pay up – even though everyone knows they shouldn’t. On a consumer level, billions more accounts will be compromised and businesses will probably  try to hide from their mistakes and responsibilities “

Rich Campagna, CEO at Bitglass summarises by talking about the biggest security risk in 2018.

"Human error is the greatest security risk facing enterprises in 2018. Currently, organisations are exposed where employees can easily share files externally, access data from unmanaged mobile devices, and lose their credentials to a malicious third party. Next year, firms that fail to modernise their security solutions and address these concerns will inevitably suffer a breach. Fortunately, businesses will be compelled to prioritise data security as they are faced with the reality of heavy regulatory fines if they are not compliant with new rules like GDPR and existing mandates."

Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa