While 2018 witnessed an incredible amount of innovation, from soaring breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to remarkable advances in the internet of things (IoT) and automation, CIOs and IT leaders also faced a slew of complex challenges world over owing to challenging political and economic scenarios and many tech companies were compelled to break from old paradigms to embrace new ways of surviving and problem solving for their customers. Peter Tsai, Spiceworks’ Senior Technology Analyst says, overall, 2019 looks promising for IT professionals in terms of career opportunities as well as adoption of new technology practices.
Here are the top trends Tsai predicts will shape the industry in 2019.
1. The job market will be favorable for IT pros in 2019.
Overall, 2019 looks promising for IT professionals looking to get ahead. Late 2018 macroeconomic indicators such as a low unemployment rate and positive GDP growth in the U.S. and parts of Europe bode well for tech workers. Additionally, our research in the 2019 State of IT Careers report shows approximately 30 percent of employers plan to grow their IT departments in 2019.Perhaps that’s why one in four IT pros plan to look for a new job in 2019, and 62 percent of IT pros seeking new employment are doing so primarily to earn a higher salary. Things are also looking somewhat promising for IT professionals that don’t plan to change jobs. When we asked about career plans over the next 12 months, 36 percent of IT pros said they expect to get a raise and 16 percent expect a promotion.
2. Blockchain adoption rates will double in large enterprises.
Perhaps one of the most hyped technologies in the last several years has been blockchain, or encrypted ledgers stored on a distributed network of computers that can help participants share data securely. According to our 2019 State of Future of Workplace Tech report, 25 percent of large enterprises with 5,000+ employees are currently using blockchain-enabled tech.
By the end of 2019, we expect blockchain usage in large enterprises to almost double to 48 percent. And by 2020, 56 percent of large enterprises expect to use blockchain in one form or another. But they may not be using them for cryptocurrencies. Instead, many businesses will likely use private blockchains to share data among other trusted organizations for use cases such as tracking items through a supply chain and proving email isn’t spam.
3. Regulation will encourage innovation in Europe.
Our 2019 State of Future of Workplace Tech report shows that compared to their North American counterparts, companies in Europe plan to adopt emerging technologies at a much faster rate. This trend holds true for hyperconverged infrastructure, container technology, 3D printing, serverless computing, edge computing, artificial intelligence, VR, and blockchain. That’s quite the list!
One potential reason for the emphasis on new technology is GPDR, with its huge fines serving as an impetus for companies to innovate. It seems those constant reminders for organizations to invest in upgrading their aging IT infrastructure to meet the GDPR challenge might have actually worked.
4. Enterprises will turn to AI-powered security solutions to fight escalating threats.
One in four IT pros believe that among emerging technologies, artificial intelligence will have the biggest impact on their business. This is especially true among respondents working in large enterprises. And one promising use case for artificial intelligence in IT is having the technology recognize and respond to cyberthreats in real time.
Large businesses often have complex networks and more endpoint devices to manage and protect than small businesses. Therefore, it’s a challenge for IT pros to know what’s going on in every corner of their environment at all times. Perhaps that’s why IT departments are increasingly turning to AI to secure their networks.
According to our 2019 State of Future Workplace Tech report, nearly 30 percent of enterprises with 1,000+ employees are currently using AI-powered security solutions, and this number is expected to grow to more than 60 percent by 2020.
5. Wi-Fi-based attacks will surge as new IoT devices enter the workplace.
According to our Wi-Fi Security in the Workplace report, 50 percent of organizations are running IoT devices on their wireless networks, including connected “things” like wearables, IP-enabled video equipment, appliances, thermometers, sensors, and more. But we also know that only 36 percent of IT professionals are confident in their ability to respond to cyberattacks on IoT devices. And with more and more IoT devices entering the workplace, and botnets such as Miraiposing a worldwide threat — and new ones popping up all the time — we’ll certainly hear more about security lapses on IoT devices in 2019.
6. Gigabit Wi-Fi networking will reach mass adoption.
Wi-Fi technologies such as 802.11ac and 802.11ax were developed to meet increasing data needs and support a growing number of connected devices. Recently dubbed Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 respectively, these gigabit Wi-Fi technologies claim to offer more reliable wireless connectivity that can support a larger number of concurrent devices and allow for higher data throughput rates.
According to our 2019 State of Future Workplace Tech report, adoption of gigabit Wi-Fi in 2018 stood at 36 percent. But by 2020, 61 percent of organizations expect to use gigabit Wi-Fi technology in the workplace.
7. Business chat apps will become mainstream; Microsoft Teams will surpass Slack.
In a world where people communicate daily though myriad consumer apps and social platforms that combine voice, video, messaging (and even emojis and animated GIFs), it makes sense that the enterprise would want to do so as well. Increasingly, companies are supplementing old-school email communications with chat apps that help them better stay in touch.
According to our Business Chat Apps report from 2017, more than 40 percent of businesses were already using collaborative chat apps, with adoption expected in the majority of organizations by now — and Skype for Business reigning as the most commonly used chat app. Additionally, a newer generation of chat apps designed for workplace collaboration — such Slack and Microsoft Teams — will each enjoy growth in 2019. Although Slack had an early lead, Teams adoption is expected to surpass Slack in 2019 with a 20 percent adoption rate compared to 17 percent for Slack.
But some things will remain the same.
8. Desktop computers will still dominate the workplace in 2019.
According to Spiceworks’ Lifetime of Tech in the Workplace report, desktop computers are still the king in the workplace. In fact, 68 percent of organizations said desktops were the primary computing device used by employees, compared to only 29 percent for laptops and 1 percent for tablets. And because desktops tend to last longer than laptops, cost-conscious businesses will continue to invest in these durable computers.
9. Hardware budgets will still exceed cloud service budgets.
Despite the hype around cloud, hardware investments are still going strong. According to the 2019 State of IT Budgets report, organizations plan to spend 35 percent of their IT budgets on hardware in 2019, up by 4 percentage points year over year. At the same time, cloud budget allocations will remain steady year-over-year at 21 percent. One possible contributor to the hardware spend: As businesses deal with Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 end-of-service in 2019, many companies will spend on new laptops and desktops to replace aging Windows 7 devices.
10. Biometrics adoption ubiquitous, but traditional passwords not going anywhere.
According to our Biometrics in the Workplace report, 86 percent of organizations will use utilize some form of biometric authentication technology by 2020. Buy despite telling us they think biometrics are much more secure than traditional passwords, only 23 percent of IT pros believe biometric authentication will replace traditional text-based passwords in the next two to three years.
Barriers to adoption such as the cost of biometric technology, reliability concerns, and system upgrade requirements may hold biometrics back. In other words, biometric authentication will have to exist side-by-side with traditional passwords — perhaps as a secondary form of authentication — for the foreseeable future.
Looking forward into 2019 and beyond
Next year will bring big changes in IT. From gigabit Wi-Fi to blockchain to AI, 2019 will be a time when businesses, especially larger ones, actually deploy technologies we’ve been talking about for years.
Big events to look out for include the Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 end-of-service in 2019, which will drive change in the industry as companies upgrade and replace their aging hardware. Additionally, a strong economy and positive job outlook are likely to help many IT pros move up in their current roles or find higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
However, some things will remain the same. Despite the plethora of new computing devices available to organizations, the desktop computer will remain king as the primary device in the workplace. And despite the buzz, on-premises hardware spend will continue to exceed cloud allocations for yet another year. And as always, security will be a top concern as IT departments work tirelessly to protect corporate networks.