Anticipating the near future of enterprise IT

Five areas for CIOs to focus on in 2019 to ensure they're keeping up with the competition.
20 December 2018

It’s time to ready your team for the next trends in enterprise IT. Source: Shutterstock

The pace of enterprise IT transformation is relentless, and CIOs and their equivalents face ever-mounting pressure to ensure their businesses, across all sectors, are keeping up.

In order to do so requires them to “heighten their awareness and anticipate the future”, according to software-defined networking services provider Masergy, which has laid out a number of ‘predictions and anti-predictions‘ for enterprise in IT in 2019.

Spanning cybersecurity, cloud computing, machine learning and, of course, artificial intelligence, here are five areas for IT stakeholders to keep an eye on in the new year— a few may come as a particular surprise.

# 1 | Convergence of networking and security

A continued convergence of networking and security will lead many IT leaders to ensure these operations no longer happen in silos, and enterprises are working together to make it both a unified process. Zero Trust strategies are becoming more prevalent as they align micro-segmentation and security monitoring.

This symbiotic approach to IT operations strategy is becoming a real focus among CIOs and CISOs. Better visibility and access via unified dashboards, that can cover network and security domains, are high on the wish list. An emergence of secure hybrid networking solutions is beginning to emerge, whereby security analytics show up on a network performance dashboard. The pairing of SD-WAN with integrated firewalls is a precursor towards security function as a built-in feature too.

# 2 | Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Another bold prediction revolves around machine learning ‘shifting’ to artificial intelligence using complex simulations of biological neurons, instead of simple mathematical ones. Specialized hardware, such as SpinNNaker project, Brainchip’s Akida and Blue Brain, will lead to more accessible software that can more accurately simulate a ‘human’ approach to thinking and lead to the next generation of machine learning in enterprise.

Masergy argues that this definition of AI, as yet, is still a way off: “2019 will be ‘the year of AI’ for sales and marketing hype because for many companies revenue generation depends on the wording ‘AI’ and the advertisement of ‘AI-based solutions’.

“Thus, we can expect the use of ‘AI’ in everything from investment banking to toy design to dishwashers. Real AI does not yet exist (nor will it in 2019) but marketing teams everywhere will embrace the term fully. While AI is still a ways away, no one will realize it.”

# 3 | The wireless marketplace

The advancement of 5G services could see fixed pricing models for consumers based on bandwidth and fixed wireless connections could lead to CIOs reevaluating their network’s design. With the exponential increase IoT (Internet of Things) related devices, the demand for localized data processing is also expected to grow.

A wireless aggregation hub or tower, formed of microdata centers or even mobile edge computing ‘cloudlets’, could be the solution towards accommodating IoT’s data processing demands. Building it near a cell tower location could leverage the tower’s multi-gigabit connection.

Meanwhile, SD-WAN will not “kill” MPLS, says Masergy, instead, it’s driving hybrid networks that combine both private and public connectivity and will soon become an absorbed feature within broader network solutions.

“SD-WAN is a routing feature—it’s not a new network connectivity type (despite how people talk about). It’s only a ‘middleman’ used to reach public Internet access/broadband. With rare exceptions, SD-WAN isn’t generating net new connectivity. Instead, it often triggers a lateral move from dual-MPLS connections to a primary MPLS connection with a broadband or direct internet access failover.”

# 4 | Security diligence

With cybersecurity threats on a rapid rise, security due diligence will be tested.

The threat of maliciously implanted hardware and software during manufacturing and sourcing, particularly with foreign suppliers, has become more apparent. The industry has struggled to define the scope and challenges of mitigating these risks. As visibility increases, more supply chain compromises will surface— “there will be no quick or easy fixes”, warns Masergy.

While large cloud providers have “economies of scale” enough to ensure their security measures are nigh-on watertight, this security merit will see a migration around a select few cloud leaders. In turn, however, this will lead to more concentrated risks— as opposed to formerly distributed, private data centers. “Sooner or later, there will be an event (i.e. a global Internet outage or a bomb targeting the public data centers of large providers), which will cause a reevaluation of availability risks,” warns Masergy.

# 5 | Cloud communications

In 2019, virtual project workspaces that are embedded in cloud communications platforms could revolutionize the enterprise, with the whole company able to collaborate and take productivity to greater heights.

Agile cloud applications can address complex enterprise needs, as more workers will be empowered to automate the enterprise, unleashing innovation which will hopefully trickle down for better results. Customer experience levels could improve tremendously when cloud contact center solutions integrate data analytics with real-time voice recognition technologies.

Predictive customer service is on the horizon and this intelligent service interaction could go a long way towards changing customers’ perceptions about service departments. All in all, 2019 could see game changers in almost every facet of the enterprise IT realm, as companies try to stay ahead of the curve to remain nimble and agile to the latest demands and requirements.