IT Predictions for 2017
As we wind our way towards the end of 2016, think back for a moment on some of what we’ve seen throughout the past year. There’s been the continuing ascendance of cloud services, particularly in terms of common business and consumer applications (thank you, Microsoft and Adobe). There’s the growing significance of advanced analytics. There have been an abundance of high-profile security breaches, entrapping big-box retailers and political campaigns alike. Mobile has continued to charge ahead, assuming ever-greater significance to companies and consumers alike.
What there hasn’t been is any sense that the pace of change, or the degree of challenge, is lessening. Looking ahead to 2017, my first thought is that those of us in the IT sector are going to be kept pretty busy – and chances are good that many of us will have to accomplish more while getting by with less in terms of resources.
Forbes is forecasting slow but continued growth over the coming twelve months, but accompanied by a measure of uncertainty created by global political and economic events. The upheaval caused by Brexit, instability in the Middle East and economic challenges in Asia are muddying the waters for international trade, with ripple effects sure to be felt right here in Michigan.
Spiceworks’ excellent annual “State of IT” report offers some clues to what the year ahead may have in store. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Don’t expect any windfalls. A slow pace of corporate revenue growth, an abundance of budgetary caution, and general uncertainty over socioeconomic trends are conspiring to slow – or stall- the growth of IT budgets. While budgets may not necessarily recede, increasing demands might (again) force IT leaders to find ways to do more with less, allocating resources across a growing array of needs.
- Cloud services and hosted services remain IT hot spots. Driven in part by pressure to optimize efficiency and flexibility while constraining costs, expect more companies to look cloudwards when it comes to modernization initiatives.
- “Cool” starts to go mainstream. Companies who have had a hard time seeing how “cool” tech like 3D printing, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence fit into their business models are starting to figure it out. Pressure to practically apply these technologies to solve business problems – and to make them play nicely with existing systems – can be expected to creep upwards.
- Purchasing treads water. As noted above, limited budgets and cautious approaches are likely to lead many companies to spend sparingly on IT products and services. More than ever, budget-conscious leaders are likely to require an extremely strong business case before being willing to loosen their purse strings.
As is always the case with beginning of year prognostication such as this, your actual mileage may vary. In our experience, Michigan companies deviate from global norms in a couple of significant ways: The last recession forced especially strong downward pressure on IT budgets and has created more pent-up demand for modernization, and they are keenly aware of the growing need maintain technological parity with competitors around the globe. In any case, we’re expecting 2017 to be an interesting year in IT – and we’re ready for whatever comes next.