Sometimes the market drives technology, sometimes innovation drives the market, it is hard to know which way it will go in the next 5 years.   As Henry Ford once said “if I had asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”

Predicting “the next big thing” in technology is an intriguing but often frustrating exercise.  Prior to April 2010 no one predicted tablets would be part of the normal work environment.  Today mobile devices are the most rapidly growing sector of ecommerce.  There are key trends currently at play however that will, at a minimum, help to forecast the evolution of technology and perhaps provide a glimpse at a revolutionary advance or two as well.

4 things that will impact corporate technology by the Year 2020:

  1. The user will drive interfaces closer to their critical data. – The tablet brought users closer to their most frequently accessed application data. The success of the App on mobile devices furthered this trend. The move to more touchscreen friendly devices and Operating Systems like Windows 8 pushed this touch screen / tablet interface into the corporate environment. This trend will continue, hardware will continue to update and morph to allow the user faster and easier access to the things used most often such as, email, chat, dashboards of KPIs, and CRM applications.
  2. Security and BYOD will find peaceful coexistence. – Mobile devices will continue to improve, evolve, and offer a feature set comparable to a PC or laptop. As more Millennials enter the workforce, they will want to use these newer devices at home and at work. No one wants to carry two phones! This means, by 2020, security software and applications will allow a single device to have multiple personalities, one personal and one work. These applications will allow for corporate data security requirements on one side and personal use on the other, all on a single, easy to use interface.
  3. Storage will be the king of the datacenter – Over the last 10 years we have seen the evolution of the virtual server and the development of the cloud for applications and storage. These two innovations have a common root, the storage array, whether using Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Area Storage (NAS), the storage array is replacing the server as the most critical element in the datacenter. Storage technology is advancing at a very rapid pace and will continue to do so. Flash memory replacing disks, new transport methods, and even virtual arrays will lead the way into 2020.
  4. The evolution of the attack – When it comes to IT security if you build a better mouse trap, eventually you get a smarter mouse. A tremendous amount of attention and resources are going into improving network and data security, and more will be necessary. Ecommerce will continue to grow and the value of corporate information will increase exponentially. Therefore, those trying to steal information will also rise to meet the challenge. The cat and mouse game of network security vs. hacker will continue, and new ways to breach networks and steal information will continue to evolve. The good news is the way we protect both our data and our networks will evolve as well.

My revolutionary prediction for technology is CHANGE.  The systems we use, how we access them, where the data is stored, and how that information is secured will continue to change.  Any prediction more concrete than that runs the risk of asking for that faster horse.  No one really knows what new technology is on the verge of completely changing the world, the way Internet and mobile have done. What we do know is that we can either change with this technology evolution or risk becoming obsolete ourselves.