That was the year that was. And what a year it was. From the introduction of GDPR which sent shockwaves through businesses across the UK to the never-ending Brexit negotiations and a plethora of advancements in cloud, cyber security and AI technologies. Here we talk to James Butler, Chief Technology Officer at Trustmarque, to get his thoughts on all the key trends that have hit the IT industry in 2018.
2018 is without a doubt the year that cloud became the norm. We’ve reached a point where Cloud is no longer seen as too risky and CIOs recognise that it can add value to every organisation. “It needs to be in their strategy”, advises James. “I can’t think of any CIO I’ve spoken to this year, even in relatively late adopting sectors, where they are not planning to adopt cloud in some capacity. Particularly Microsoft Azure.”
So what’s driven the shift? According to James more guidance, better technical architecture and advocacy has improved confidence. “There’s been so much momentum in early adopters which has helped rid of the fear of the unknown. At the same time the solutions are more mature and the major vendors are better at explaining how to deploy secure and reliable cloud architectures.”
Finally, 2018 has seen a lot of detailed technical improvements that have made it possible to move your IT estate without the need for big transformation. This has allowed IT departments to operate in a way they are comfortable and familiar with.
Security and GDPR
In more practical terms Security is something that has grown and become more complex in 2018. “Security is probably everybody’s biggest fear, concern and area of complexity because you never really know what is coming next,” says James. For organisations, it can be increasingly difficult to know who might be targeting you and how because cyber criminals have increasingly diverse agendas.
The growing cyber threat overlaps with GDPR, which was enshrined in UK law in May 2018. For James, GDPR was vital for the industry. “There was a lot of fear but I think it was one of the most important bits of legislation we’ve seen in years. It’s the only thing that has come out from local or global politics that really tries to deal with the changing nature of a global society.”
Yes AI has been the buzzword of the year, taking both the consumer world and the business community by storm. “AI is interesting because algorithms that have been available for quite some time are now widely accessible, particularly through cloud based AI technology,” says James.
2018 has seen lots of different types of software incorporating AI for the first time. Whether that’s self-service dashboards that have made it easier to access advanced analytics or by companies like Microsoft who have built it into their Office software. It’s an exciting area that continues to grow.
However, according to James, 2018 has been a year of “early adoption” and we’re not yet at the point where everyone understands the business benefit.
When it comes to the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, In the main, it’s a general area of background concern but with so much unknown people generally don’t know what to make of it. James commented “We work with a lot of public sector organisations who are used to having budgets controlled by central and local Government so that won’t change. In some areas they may get more money and in others less, but they can’t plan too far ahead now with so many unknowns.”
He added that Trustmarque’s private sector customers who are more reliant on trade are clearly more concerned about the impact of Brexit. As the say, time will tell.
The skills challenge
For many organisations the skills needed in the IT department has shifted significantly. There’s less requirement for managing BAU and a greater need for strategic thinking; understanding the organisation, the IT solutions and design options available and developing an appropriate roadmap. At the same time, there’s more design choice than ever before, so even the most up-to-speed “techies” must understand the options available.
According to James, this challenge is one Trustmarque is keen to address. “Our strategy is to be there alongside our customers on their journey. We are not an outsourcer and we are not looking to replace any IT departments. Instead, we will be there to support and enable the IT teams; to make the right choices, help get them up to speed and potentially to deliver some of the workload, if they need it.
Looking ahead to 2019
As an industry, we’re unlocking more innovation than ever before and making more use of it across a range of applications, scenarios and sectors. We expect the core themes to remain the same in 2019 with greater advancements in Cloud, Security and AI.
We will be back in the New Year to give you our 2019 market predictions and an update on Trustmarque’s transformation journey.
By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast.