This article appeared in Seacoast Sunday and Fosters Daily Democrat on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
The Computing Technology Industry Association released its annual technology industry trends report for the current year. The industry remains bullish about opportunities this year, though concerns remain, especially in the area of workforce.
The IT industry remains one of the tightest job markets worldwide. If you have tried to hire an IT professional in the past few years, you’ve surely experienced this yourself.
In terms of workforce trends in 2017, the skills gap continues to grow. There are more open requisitions for technical staff than ever in the history of the industry. Companies in and outside the IT industry are getting very creative in their hiring and their approaches to meeting their skills needs. CompTIA, as the industry trade association, continues to focus resources on driving the opportunities of careers in the IT industry, especially at the high school level, where it is critical to capture students’ enthusiasm for technology as a career choice. This is by no means a quick fix, so most companies continue to balance their internal staffs with either staff augmentation, bringing in contract labor or outsourcing to firms that specialize in working as outsourced technology companies.
While the market shows no sign of easing this tight labor market, there are other impacts that come to bear as well. As companies continue to bring younger generations into the workforce, pressure to allow those users to bring in their own computing and mobile technology requires new thinking, especially with regard to protecting intellectual property and cyber security. The use of personal technology in the business environment requires considerable planning to ensure that company data remains under the control of the company.
When talking about cyber security, it’s also important to note the difference between cyber security and IT security. IT security is primarily defensive and physical in nature. This is where most conversation focuses on firewalls, routing and port restrictions, anti-spam, anti-malware and similar technologies. This puts up the necessary roadblocks, but it is not cyber security in its entirety. Cyber security is more about educating your workforce to be aware of threats like phishing attacks, rogue web sites and other social engineering types of threats that seek to trick a user to exposing company data and network resources.
The most effective cyber security revolves around ongoing education and testing, to understand the level of risk and identify weak points that need attention. It’s a comprehensive approach. Workforce issues will continue to dominate the technology landscape for the foreseeable future.
In terms of specific technology trends, several seem poised to dominate 2017. Among those identified by CompTIA are the Internet of Things (IoT), the continued break down of traditional barriers between business units and IT, the emergence of a new class of tools to manage computing resources in the Cloud and of course, security, security, security.
In terms of IoT, more and more devices connect to the network and the Internet. As these non-traditional computing devices come online, the need to understand their impact to the network becomes increasingly more important. The need to manage these devices has become critical, as some recent events have clearly shown. IoT devices have become an attack target for enterprising hackers as was evidenced by the widely publicized Denial of Service attack on Manchester, New Hampshire’s Dyn.
As technology has become completely indispensable in the workplace and as the Cloud has brought more capability down to the individual worker, business units are driving technology decisions that have historically been the domain of the IT professionals. This is a good thing, as it helps to ensure that technology investments are meeting the needs of the business. IT’s role is evolving into more of a quarterback role, in making sure that their entire corporate team works in a planned and integrated system that allows them to meet and exceed their goals. Yes, that was a Super Bowl reference. Impossible to avoid in a column on Super Bowl Sunday.
As more and more workloads are moved to the Cloud, the one missing link has been the toolset to manage these dispersed systems in a single pain of glass. It’s not efficient, nor is it reasonable to expect that Cloud systems can be effectively managed as individual services. Tools to manage them in one centralized management system are more important now than ever.
Security will remain a serious consideration. CompTIA’s research contends things are likely to get worse before they get better. Unfortunately, I agree. While some companies take security seriously, too many do not and work off the assumption that they are too small or not an attractive enough target. This is naïve. Most experts agree it’s not about whether or not you are a target. The conventional wisdom remains that it’s a question of when, not if.
2017 will be another exciting year for technology and I’m looking forward to continue to report on it and here and on my blog. Not to go unsaid, “Go Pats!”