It's the season of fall, pumpkin spice and family. Following a brief business lull during the Thanksgiving break, it's a race to the end of 2016. This is also the perfect time reflect on how far the industry has come and what CIOs have to be thankful for this year.
1. Google, Microsoft and AWS are doubling down on machine learning.
Experts predict machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies will open all kinds of new possibilities for businesses in nearly every industry in coming years. Now, cloud providers are making the technology more accessible, pushing machine learning and AI services to unlock new capabilities for customers.
Last week, Google announced it’s creating a new Google Cloud Machine Learning group that will focus on delivering cloud-based machine learning solutions to businesses. The group will be led by prominent machine intelligence researchers Fei-Fei Li and Jia Li.
"Building a centralized team within Google Cloud will accelerate our ability to deliver machine learning products and services to enterprise customers in every industry," Rob Craft, Group Lead for Google Cloud Machine Learning, wrote in a company blog.
Microsoft's cloud computing is also the root of a new wave of applications that harnesses artificially intelligent technology.
"When we look at this current generation of applications that people are building, the thing that is going to define these applications, that characterizes these applications, is machine learning and artificial intelligence. Therefore we are building out Azure as the first AI supercomputer," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
And last Friday, Amazon Web Services followed suit. Reports surfaced that the cloud giant will also have its own dedicated machine learning division to tie into its cloud offerings.
2. Moving to the cloud is getting easier.
The cloud may seem pervasive, but according to recent research from VMware, the public cloud actually represents only 15% of workloads today.
The good news is cloud companies like AWS, Google and Microsoft recognize the potential, and they are working to capture more cloud business by making it easier for companies to make the transition. Cloud providers are pushing new products and partnerships products aimed at moving more businesses to the cloud.
Most recently, Google announced a strategic partnership with Intel to "support and accelerate" enterprise adoption of the cloud. The partnership will focus on Kubernetes, machine learning, the Internet of Things and security, combining Google Cloud software capabilities with Intel’s hardware, Nan Boden, Google’s head of global technology partners, wrote in a Google Cloud blog.
Cisco projects that cloud traffic, led by IoT will nearly quadruple by 2020. Its global cloud index for 2016 predicts cloud traffic will grow from 3.9 zettabytes (ZB) per year in 2015 to 14.1 ZB per year by 2020.
Businesses that haven’t made the move to cloud yet, but want to, may find the prospects of doing so increasingly easy as the tech giants compete to capture more cloud business. For some companies, this means rethinking the cloud transition, instead taking a hybrid approach.
3. IoT security is taking center stage.
IoT devices have recently been used to launch massive DDoS attacks. In response, many organizations are now calling for more built in security from the manufacturers to ensure that malicious actors cannot harness devices for botnets.
IT experts have warned about poor IoT security for years, but little has been done to improve it until now. In a way, the Dyn attack was a blessing in disguise, because it promoted action on IoT security before IoT hits full stride. Gartner recently predicted 21 billion IoT devices will be used globally by 2020, outnumbering laptops, smartphone and tablets.
Until industry standards are both set and met, large-scale cyberattacks that employ compromised IoT devices will persist. Last week, the House committees held a joint hearing to consider whether federal regulation is needed to ensure IoT device security. And while there are still a lot of details to be figured out — one challenge, for example, is the fact that most IoT devices aren’t made in the U.S., so U.S.-based regulations would not be effective — it’s a move in the right direction.
Some lawmakers support the development of an independent testing organization to oversee IoT security standards. Either way, it’s a positive sign that the issue of IoT security is now taking center stage.
4. Tech workers value skill development over salary.
Companies that find themselves outpriced in the war for tech talent will be glad to hear 69% of IT pros in a recent Spiceworks survey said they value advancing their IT skills over higher salaries.
What skills do they want to learn? Cybersecurity is the number one type of skill IT pros want to improve, with 95% of them saying those skills will be necessary for success next year. In addition to cybersecurity, respondents also indicated they want to learn computer networking (95%), virtualization (92%), and cloud architecture skills (72%).
So while salary is important, the opportunity to learn new skills is clearly even more important. The good news is, companies that offer continuous training, especially around cybersecurity, may find it easier to retain highly sought-after IT employees next year.