Forrester and IDC's 5 Predictions on the State of IT in 2016

The IT world is poised for some enormous changes in the coming year, and revelatory digital tools are at the center of it all.

IT market research giants IDC and Forrester Research recently released their predictions for IT in 2016 and beyond, and the results have companies either quite nervous or downright gleeful. The big upshot, detailed by Bernard Golden at CIO, is that big data will continue to revolutionize most aspects of both traditional and disruptive enterprises, prompting a heated contest for the best IT talent and resources.

The heart of this transformation will be an agile, all-encompassing IT that connects every area of the business. While IT has struggled in recent years to take its seat at the executive table, CIOs will begin to play more important roles, overseeing teams of talented developers and consulting on business-wide decisions.

CEOs who aren’t already considering their enterprise IT or third party vendors should start thinking about how to best evaluate the value IT provides you, and how to potentially restructure and transfer at least some of your offerings to the cloud. It’s going to be a short road, but the bigger bumps will need to be smoothed out sooner rather than later.

Centerfold IT

To the chagrin of many large, legacy IT vendors, IT will soon form a centralized position in every competitive company, which will dramatically change the relationships these vendors have with their clients. At the same time, given how reliant businesses are and will be on digital systems, companies will be more likely to invest in an in-house development team to design their custom-built apps and operations rather than seeking the help of a partner enterprise.

Digital services, however, are a different story. Golden predicts that over 50% of businesses’ IT spends will be for third party solutions, services, and technologies by 2017, rising to over 60% by 2020. As companies adopt digital services in bulk — along with the operating procedures, tools, and languages they entail — the features that distinguish technology providers will be blurred, and enterprises will increasingly look like software companies.

As Golden explains, “By the end of 2017, two-thirds of the CEOs of Global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategy,” and those companies will go on to double their software development capabilities by 2018.

Big Data Gets Bigger

By now it’s clear that big data isn’t just another Silicon Valley buzzword — it’s finding its way into nearly every industry — from healthcare to education to pharmaceutical discoveries. Data-driven decisions are trumping the appeal of gut insights. Once a burgeoning subfield, machine learning and so-called cognitive services (think Watson) are growing even faster — while only 1% of apps use cognitive services, 50% will be in 2018, according to IDC.

One dramatic effect of big data is that, when the right algorithms are applied, it helps companies pinpoint the exact efficiency of their services and resource utilization, and allows decision makers to build “what if” scenarios for future projects. In this way, companies can reveal the true costs and risk of IT, as well as determine the specific hardware they need to maximize efficiency and avoid outages. As companies inevitably restructure their IT in fundamental ways, this will prove an invaluable resource for leaders looking to make the leap.

If anything, these reports announce that technology will play an even bigger role in business than anyone might have imagined — which isn’t surprising in itself. The real insight here is that companies must find the professionals who can show them how to use IT as a strategic partner.

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