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Grow Your Business Technology

Top IT Trends to Focus On Right Now

Top IT Trends to Focus On Right Now
Credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

With each new year comes a new set of technological changes and challenges that businesses must be prepared to tackle.

Cybersecurity threats, analytics and artificial intelligence are all technology trends that will attract considerable interest from businesses in 2016, according to a new forecast from the management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen.

Bill Stewart, executive vice president and leader of Booz Allen's commercial cyber business, said organizations are about to enter a fundamentally different period as cyberrisk and advanced analytics demand more attention from business leaders.

"The dynamics will change, both in terms of the issues themselves and the solutions available," Stewart said in a statement. "Skilled leaders will factor these changing dynamics into their planning, investments and operations."

To assemble its list of the top trends, Booz Allen surveyed its own experts from a wide range of subject areas and industry backgrounds. In addition, the company drew upon its portfolio of client engagements and relationships with C-level executives to learn about the emerging needs, concerns and views of corporate leaders. [Understanding Innovation: How Businesses Adopt New Technology ]

Based on Booz Allen's research, here are the top technology trends for businesses in 2016:

  • Partner vulnerability: Businesses will face increased cyberrisks as they continue to outsource work. Moving forward, businesses will extend their "cyberterritory" beyond their organization's traditional boundaries. Leaders will demand a high degree of cybersecurity from their supply-chain partners and any outsourcing vendors. Businesses will increasingly use analytics to proactively determine the risk their partners pose. Booz Allen believes firms that increase their skill sets in these areas will have an advantage in the market.
  • The "dark Web": An increasingly open and accessible market for cyberattack tools on the "dark Web" will pose more threats than ever for businesses. In 2016, low-priced online "hack kits" will make it possible for nearly anyone with basic computer skills to launch a cyberattack. Booz Allen believes the increased number of hackers will force businesses to conduct a complete reassessment of their approach to cybersecurity.
  • Security integration: Today, most businesses use a patchwork of cybersecurity solutions. However, most of these products don't work well together because they weren't intended to do so. This creates increased vulnerability. Moving forward, Booz Allen says organizations will need to better integrate their security solutions in order to diminish their risks.
  • Cyberanalytics: Although many businesses have a treasure trove of cyberdata, they aren't using it to their advantage. In 2016, Booz Allen expects more and more businesses to invest in cyber "fusion centers" that combine different data sets that are generated by all of their security programs to garner more insight into their cybersecurity. This will give businesses a better understanding of their "normal" environments, which, in turn, will lead them to develop security measures that are better at detecting abnormal behavior.
  • Increased demand for cyberanalytics professionals: The explosion of data that will be generated in the coming years from the Internet of Things (IoT) will force businesses to increase their hiring of staff members who are capable of interrupting all of the information and determining how their organizations can benefit from it. Booz Allen predicts that businesses able to ramp up their hiring in this area and embrace emerging advanced analytics methods will quickly outpace their competition.
  • Artificial intelligence: The increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the type of expertise needed in the workforce. As the adoption of AI continues to grow, the need for employees to handle more mundane tasks will decrease, while the need for employees who apply greater creativity and insight on more complex problems will grow. Booz Allen expects businesses to increase their hiring of employees with more complex reasoning and pattern-recognition abilities.
  • CIO changes: The role of chief information officer (CIO) will expand in 2016. Booz Allen believes CIOs are now able to drive innovation by connecting stakeholders across their organization. Through crowdsourcing, hackathons, design thinking and visual storytelling, CIOs have a variety of influential creative tools to help their organizations become more innovative.
  • Decrease in big data spending: In 2016, expect more organizations to ask what are they getting for their money with all of their big data spending. Booz Allen predicts that many organizations will have a wave of big data buyer's remorse, which will lead to a different approach to adopting advanced analytics. The new approach will focus on establishing organizational competency in using analytics before investing more money in big data technology and personnel.
  • Hyperpersonalization: Rather than targeting broad demographics of customers, businesses will use their customer analytics to create more of a one-on-one experience. Booz Allen said this understanding will enable organizations to anticipate needs and create a better customer experience.

"The developments in the technology market, coupled with greater application of advanced analytics methods and data science, will have a significant impact across the board," said Xena Ugrinsky, a Booz Allen senior vice president and leader of the firm's commercial analytics business. "Those organizations that can build capability quickly as data plays an increasingly strategic role will have an exponential competitive advantage."

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.