Technology is constantly evolving, introducing new methods that achieve more with less, while securing against negative forces like cybercriminals. So, I suggest looking at information technology in 2016 from these perspectives:
- What do I absolutely need to do in 2016?
- What is new and potentially meaningful in 2016?
- What technologies could become disruptive in 2016?
What do I absolutely need to do in 2016?
From a security perspective, you must address these items (at a minimum):
- Retire unsupported operating systems – PCs running Windows XP that connect to the Internet should be upgraded promptly since security updates have ended and security flaws can be exposed and exploited. Likewise, the same lack of security updates make Windows Server 2003 vulnerable to attack. (There is a paid service for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 updates that is available from Microsoft, but it is a bit pricey.)
- Deploy/monitor/manage security solutions1 – Malware predominately attacks end-users and infects their devices (smartphones, PCs, tablets). Anti-malware and anti-spam solutions should be deployed to protect these devices. Plus, all network equipment and end-user devices must be monitored and managed to ensure that they are patched, up-to-date, and functioning properly. In addition, every computer network should have at least one separate, physical device configured specifically as a firewall to restrict external Internet traffic from infiltrating your computer network.
- Train end-users in data security2 – Security measures can’t do it all; end-users should be trained on what things to avoid and how to avoid them.
What is new and potentially meaningful in 2016?
Some new and upcoming items from major players:
- Windows 103 – A 2015 launch, but expect 2016 to be the year it gains traction and begins to dominate Windows-based devices.
- Office 20164 – Not terribly different; just another revision with new features used by some, but not all.
- Server 20165 – Many new features improving key areas of security, organization, storage, networking, and more.
- Android for Work6 – Also not new, but Google’s foray into mobility management for large organizations could see greater interest.
- Android SmartPhones7&8 – Look for the Samsung Galaxy 7 in February, which will be challenged by the feature-packed HTC One X9 and the Nexus 6p from Huawei.
- Apple Watch 2 – Primarily a refinement of the original Apple Watch.
- iPhone7?? – Newer models with cutting-edge features likely by fall.
- Enterprise expansion – IBM noted that only 5% of its MacBook-wielding employees use the IBM Help Desk compared to 40% of PC users; a savings of about $270 per MacBook. Expect these savings to increase MacBook adoption at IBM and other large organizations.
What technologies could become disruptive in 2016?
Because the basic components of IT keep getting smaller, more-powerful, faster, and, eventually, less expensive, the possible deployment options grow significantly, making change a common occurrence. Andy Kessler in the 12/29/2015 Wall Street Journal suggests: “The smaller technology shrinks, the bigger the world can grow.” Many of these changes disrupt our current ways, but almost always for the better.
Here are some potentially disruptive technologies:
- Internet of Things (IoT)10 – Prepare for an explosion in smart devices connecting to the Internet that permit control and analysis from anywhere.
- Big Data – The ability to crunch an extraordinary amount of data and provide meaningful results at a moment’s notice is priceless to those who live and die in an online world of transactions and changes.
- Digital assistants (via artificial intelligence) – 2016 might be a bit early for this one to gain widespread use, but manufacturers are actively developing these applications (Siri by Apple and Cortana by Microsoft) to simplify the human-to-machine interface and make machines anticipate our wishes rather than react to them.
Although not as new, these evolving technologies continue to disrupt:
- Cloud – Certain information technologies (email, storage, backup, etc.) lend themselves well to Cloud-based deployment; typically, these technologies provide access anywhere at any time, often with less overall investment than doing it yourself.
- 3D printing – Who wouldn’t want to get a custom item in real time? 3D printers can produce everything from plastic parts to metal components using photographs or 3D modeling software.
- Mobility11 – Smartphones are the key technology; their use continues to grow, fueling fundamental changes in how people interact with the Internet and with one another.
1Recommended Practices: IT security cheat-sheet in the June 2015 edition of Bryley Information and Tips (BITs).
2Recommended Practices: Basic training for IT end-users in the May 2015 edition of BITs.
3Can Windows 10 revitalize the PC? in the November 2015 edition of BITs.
4Introducing Office 2016 in the August 2015 edition of BITs.
5Paul Ferrill’s The best new features in Windows Server 2016 (so far) in the 10/29/2015 edition of InfoWorld.
6What is Android for Work at Google.
8Cam Bunton’s 5 Android Smartphone Makers to watch in 2016 at 9to5google.
9Ryan Faas’ Here’s what Apple is planning for 2016 in the 12/30/2015 edition of ComputerWorld.
10The Internet of Things (IoT) – Something old, something new? in the October 2015 edition of BITs.
11Rowland Manthrope’s 2016 will herald the end of Google (sort of) in the 12/29/2015 edition of Wired.