2019 will see a real-life implementation of technologies that rely on automation to relieve and empower IT departments, helping them meet the challenges the continuing shortage of skilled labour and looming security threats pose. According to the industry experts of IT service provider Konica Minolta, this year will also lay the groundwork for significant technological adaptations of technologies such as 5G and blockchain.
1. (Re-)Gaining momentum: edge-computing and the multi-cloud
With the continued rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), edge-computing is becoming ever more crucial. Providing the necessary computing power for devices such as intelligent cameras like Konica Minolta’s Mobotix solutions, where the sensitive data is processed close to the IoT solution and stays on premises. IT infrastructure decisions in 2019 will be shaped by one question: What data should be stored and processed where? Where fast access without dependence on external connectivity is needed, edge solutions will be the path forward. Ensuring data recovery, maximum cost efficiency and access to “to go” applications will be the domain of cloud solutions, either private or public. However, this diversification towards the multi-cloud will need to be virtually unrecognisable to the user. Wherever data is stored and from wherever it is accessed, the experience must be seamless, immediate and secure.
2. Skilled labour shortage starting to reshape work in IT
As the battle over IT professionals intensifies across Europe, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular will feel the impact of the competition from big players in the IT industry and beyond. 39,600 IT jobs are open in Germany alone – and the situation in other countries like the UK is no different. Overall, the shortage of skilled labour could leave around one million vacancies unfilled in Europe by 2020. The continuing shortage in IT is worsened by years of stagnation in the number of IT graduates and growing demand for professionals in this field. Job profiles in IT will need to change significantly to ensure that work is attractive to these employees. Konica Minolta’s experts predict that, in the near future, the dominant IT positions left in SMEs will be for developers and managers of IT services – positions with creative tasks or a high level of coordinative responsibility. IT personnel in those companies will be able to focus on more attractive and demanding projects with significant business impact. The arduous, repetitive tasks of the traditional IT administrator will be automated or, where this is not possible, outsourced. In addition to the continuous growth in managed services in 2019 and beyond, IT solutions such as Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub will enable high levels of automation, rendering such tasks obsolete.
3. Security: centralisation of data security in the age of connected devices
With increasingly complex and powerful malware like cryptoworms targeting businesses in particular, malware and industry espionage are growing concerns for companies of all sizes. Potential vulnerabilities are increasing further as intelligent IoT devices find their way onto the shop floors of production companies as well as into offices. The increase in possible threats from the attackers on the one hand has led to a plethora of defensive measures from companies on the other. According to Konica Minolta’s IT experts, this is a source of a number of problems. Different solutions from a range of vendors working independently can lead to potential conflicts and not to all-encompassing separate solutions. In the best case, this procedure is simply not efficient, in the worst case, it is a threat to security. As a result, IT security in 2019 is expected to see a rise in centralised solutions, synchronising security across all layers – ideally controlled via one security dashboard. This is an approach the experts from Konica Minolta recommend and implement for their customers. Efficiency and power are also increasing, as analytical power is only dedicated where there is actual traffic.
4. VoIP: paving the path for true remote collaboration
In Germany, communication provider Deutsche Telekom will discontinue its old, established standard ISDN service and replace it with voice over IP (VoIP) by the end of 2018 – a development that is also happening in other European countries. While VoIP is not a new technology in itself, this shift may just be the necessary push it needs for the true integration of communication and work tools. As companies now have to revise their communications solutions, they can realise the full potential many of them already have licenses for. For example, with Microsoft Teams already included in Office 365, the phone and work station finally merge into one solution. Working remotely on a document together and communicating about it take place using one solution. With regard to implementation, dedicated partners like Konica Minolta can help by both consulting and providing the necessary solutions – a service already attracting increasing interest today and one that will continue to gain relevance in the next years.
5. BYOx – bring your own… infrastructure and applications
Fundamentally called into question in the wake of the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own apps (BYOA) will again find themselves on the agenda of many CIOs for 2019. This has to do with the benefits of BYOx. BYOD makes it possible for employees to work with the devices they are already familiar and hence most productive with. BYOA allows employees to use their favourite third-party applications in the workplace. With regard to the ongoing demand for these ways to work, Konica Minolta ensures that its solutions support this, for example with container technology for mobile devices. According to Konica Minolta’s experts, unified and standardised systems are key for taking this development from tech-savvy firms and experimental phases in individual companies to a broad application in the upcoming years.
6. 5G and its promise for the future of business IT reliability
The fifth generation of mobile network technology is so convincing that, in Germany, several non-connectivity service provider companies like Daimler, BASF and Siemens are evaluating whether to compete with classic carriers such as Vodafone for 5G licenses. Why? 20Gbps downlink and 10Gbps uplink speeds for each mobile base station are fast enough to truly revolutionise device connectivity, enabling huge amounts of data to be transferred very fast. This makes it not only a door-opener for user-focused technologies such as highly automated driving, but a big leap forward for business IT solutions as well. With its unsurpassed high bandwidth and security, Konica Minolta’s IT experts see this mobile data standard as the ideal candidate for failover technology for conventional server and device connectivity, for example. Industry 4.0 applications will make this even more important. In Germany, 2019 will see the auction of corresponding licences, while other countries are already introducing this standard. 5G will take shape and develop in the next few years, and this is indispensable because providers will have to fully implement this technology before it can become truly important for businesses.
7. Blockchain – further real-life application will only come with simplification
With its omnipresence in the industry debate, no trend outlook for IT in 2019 can afford to disregard blockchain technology. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology is creating the basis for an overwhelming array of possible applications across industries – from authenticating every step in the food production chain to accurate public healthcare records. However, as blockchain technology deployment is complex, the path to the mass implementation of this technology must lead through simplified plug-and-play applications. According to experts from Konica Minolta, this is the biggest hurdle to turning the hype unleashed by Bitcoin into a real, self-sustaining technology movement. In 2019, this will start to pave the path for new use cases, eventually turning into successful businesses. In the years to come, additional obstacles will have to be addressed, from computing power and security – yes, this is also an issue even for blockchain – to sustainability in the light of the huge amount of energy it consumes. This will make it possible to truly scale blockchain technology. The technology will then be a bright prospect for creating the basis for an overwhelming array of possible applications across industries.