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The 6 biggest enterprise tech stories of 2016

A lot happened in enterprise technology this year. Disruption has become the norm and companies now expect they must innovate to survive.

As a year's end wrap up, we gathered some of our most-read stories of 2016, highlighting their importance this year and what they may mean for the future.

1. Transforming the enterprise – GM and GE reinvent themselves

Digital transformation was a huge buzz word in 2016 (in fact, digital transformation took the CIO Dive award for the biggest obsession of 2016). As the technology revolution continues, savvy companies realize they must change or risk being left behind.

For companies likes General Motors, it is necessary to modernize and move past legacy systems to better serve customers. GM's business is about to change radically due to technology disruptions such as autonomous vehicles, ride sharing services and the digitization of just about everything. In response, GM CEO Mary Barra launched a series of initiatives to help shake things up. 

General Electric is another old-school company on a mission to reinvent itself, launching a major campaign to attract top talent, raising salaries along the way. GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt even developed a stand-alone software unit to help pivot the 124-year old industrial company for the digital age. GE’s software unit now has more than 28,000 employees. 

2. Out with the old – how BlackBerry lost its enormous market share  

BlackBerry is a perfect example of a company that didn’t transform fast enough to stay on top of the digital wave.

After BlackBerry confirmed it would no longer manufacture its iconic BlackBerry phones in September, the company's market failures came to the fore. Businesses everywhere fell out of love with the company that once owned more than 50% of the global smartphone market.

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BlackBerry’s struggle to evolve from its original model and modernize when Apple’s iPhone began to take off in the market left it vulnerable. The company’s fall from dominance really goes back to where they chose to prioritize. While BlackBerry began with a focus on users, it gradually pivoted to focus increasingly on IT. That provided Apple — and eventually Google — the perfect opening. Conversely, Apple focused on the user and largely ignored IT.

While the BlackBerry that formerly dominated the enterprise smartphone market may be gone, the company is still fighting for survival, looking to reinvent itself in the mobile security arena.

3. When IoT attacks – the Dyn debacle

The news cycle is crowded with reports of data breaches and cyberattacks that impact the enterprise, but the DDoS attack on DNS provider Dyn in October was different. The attack against Dyn highlighted an internet choke point, where scores of companies could be impacted. 

The Dyn attack was notable because it used the Mirai botnet to harness "zombie" Internet of Things devices to work on its behalf. A DDoS attack stemming from compromised IoT devices showed the advanced capabilities malicious actors have when targeting networks, and quickly prompted several IoT device makers to recall or reevaluate the security of their devices. It also prompted many copycat Mirai-based attacks.

The attack was also yet another lesson in redundancy. Companies using more than one service provider often suffer less during wide-scale cyberattacks.

The attack showed IoT device security concerns overall, inspiring the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade to hold a joint hearing to consider whether federal regulation is needed to ensure Internet of Things device security.

4. Tech talent – who’s in demand and why?

Employees always want to know if they are earning salaries comparable to their peers. But in the IT industry, comparing talent demand may be more important, because it shows which technologies a company’s competitors are pursuing. 

Not surprisingly, cybersecurity skills lead the way. CSOs are expected to see the highest jump in C-suite salaries, up 5.3% in 2017, according to the 2017 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals, a report by Robert Half Technology.

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But what about non-executive salaries? Big Data engineers and data scientists are expected to see the biggest non-executive salary jumps in 2017. The overarching goal of both roles involves figuring out what to do with the data companies collect and how to use that data to advance enterprise capabilities.

Big Data engineers and data scientists are also in high demand as the area of data analytics continues to see huge growth, while Web development will also see significant demand as companies look to offer more services online.

SEE ALSO: 7 enterprise technology trends for 2017

5. What can go wrong will go wrong – the Delta Airlines outage

In August, Delta Airlines suffered a power outage in Atlanta that led to cascaded failures throughout its computer systems, affecting the airline’s operations systemwide. The outage caused widespread delays and led to the cancelation of about 1,000 flights, demonstrating the potential consequences of relying on antiquated technology and patchwork systems. The airline industry is particularly vulnerable, as many airlines have been slow to update their systems.

The Delta outage led to a lot of down time and angry customers, providing a number of lessons for CIOs increasingly held responsible for a company's bottom line. The primary takeaways? Companies may want to consider regionally dispersed control centers and need to ensure redundancy measures are in place and fully operational.

6. Creating an enterprise tech Goliath

Big changes among tech giants are always interesting from a strategy perspective, but the birth of Dell Technologies following the $62 billion merger between Dell and EMC Corp. earned a lot of attention this year

Earlier this year the deal finally went through, creating the largest privately held tech company in the world, which is now worth $74 billion and serves 98% of Fortune 500 companies. 

The mega deal garnered so much attention, in part, because it’s one of the largest tech mergers in history, creating a company with broad market penetration, from personal computing to enterprise technology.  

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Not only did Dell Technologies become one of largest enterprise tech providers in the industry, it also upped the ante in the fierce competition pitting Dell/EMC against Meg Whitman and her Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE). Now that Dell Technologies operates under a single, defined strategy, it is poised to have a heavy presence in enterprises across sectors, threatening HPE’s lead in several areas.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the two companies are taking very different strategies: while HP broke into smaller pieces to remain agile in the market, Dell and EMC are creating a conglomerate that could falter as the technology landscape shifts.

Filed Under: IT Strategy Security