For decades, IT experts have attempted to predict the future. Analyzing trends and gauging customer preferences, the intent is to build an IT strategy that accurately forecasts top areas for investment. Lately, predicting customer buying preferences and behavior has reached a fever pitch with the world facing a digital transformation like never before. Business dynamics are evolving, mandating adoption of  technologies that will make them more agile and competitive on every front. Unfortunately, there’s no way to envision precisely what’s next.

Despite the uncertainty, it’s worthwhile to reflect upon recent developments and extrapolate what this might mean for the future of IT. Companies are engaged in an epic battle to meet requirements of a digital world – demanding greater flexibility with the power to change and scale alongside demand. Adoption of hybrid IT models supported by managed hosting and cloud are becoming the rule, not the exception. And these dynamics will continue well into 2017 and beyond.

While no two companies are alike, there are several common IT threads to thrive in this new environment:

Digital Technology Platforms: The industry experts at Gartner continue to highlight the Digital Technology Platform, especially at the most recent Symposium and IT Expo. Digital business requires electronic building blocks to push transformation – and include everything from information systems and customer experience to analytics and IoT. This platform is best supported by a foundational infrastructure based on a hybrid approach that favors agility.  Many organizations will continue to embrace digital transformation – even those with legacy infrastructures. A hybrid IT strategy, combined with industry leading managed services, allow these companies to innovate and move forward.

Adaptive Security: The digital transformation is not without risk, with an estimated 1 million malware threats released every day. Malicious content is created faster than companies can protect themselves – leading to data theft and privacy violations. The work of cyber thieves is impacting businesses around the world, with ransomware attacks recently surging 113 percent. Much like the flexible network, security infrastructures must become adaptive and fluid. Multi-layered security and behavioral analytics can guide security policies, especially in the coming years. Increasingly, we’ve found customers can leverage Managed Security Services to move from a reactive security strategy to a proactive strategy to help guard against the most dangerous attacks.  Today’s reality is that you need to operate with the assumption that you will get breached, and you need to invest in the tools and capabilities to discover these breaches quickly to minimize their impacts.

Cloud Computing: Yes, cloud is here to stay, but how it is being deployed is evolving. Trends such as distributed cloud are becoming more common.  IDC estimates that 60 percent of all IT will take place off premises and 85 percent will be executed through multi-cloud implementations by 2018, while 40 percent of IoT will be processed at the edge before the end of this decade (by 2019)*. Partners like CenturyLink are uniquely qualified to investigate and analyze the cloud requirements of each organization and build a reasonable path to adoption that enables your organization to pick the best execution venue for your cloud workload.

Automation: IT automation is more important than ever before. Administrators just don’t have the time to dedicate resources and manually manage cross-platform. The transformation is increasingly leaning towards heuristic design – automation based on data fed in operations. Technology partners like CenturyLink can support these efforts with services like configuration management and orchestration for both hybrid IT and cloud and help you scale your operating staff rather than having to retrain staff for the next new cloud service or platform.

Enterprise Collaboration: We live in a global economy supported by a universe of mobile workers. The requirement is for seamless collaboration across the digital workforce – with the potential to drive efficiency, increase productivity and advance innovation. Unfortunately, many are trapped with ineffective legacy tools that undercut the dynamic nature of IT. Investments in unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions – such as Hosted VoIP – can facilitate the integrated levels of interaction businesses demand.

As 2016 comes to a close and we usher in a new year, organizations must manage current IT resources while planning for the future. A little strategic planning can go a long way. Contact one of our IT experts to discover best practices for building an IT strategy that takes your business into the future.

*Source: IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions, Doc # US41883016, Nov 2016

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