With rapid change a constant in the IT sector, it can sometimes be tough to discern long-term trends from marketing hype. However, on the doorstep of 2015, I believe there are three 'hot buttons' that will have a significant impact in the year ahead:
1. Wearables and the Internet of Things
Wearable devices started out as a novelty but are quickly attracting serious attention in many areas of business. Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan estimates the global wearable technology market was already worth US$8.58 billion in 2014 and will grow to US$38 billion in 2017. As more people begin to wear smart devices, the opportunities afforded by the data generated will be vast. Medical providers will be able to monitor an individual's health and insurance companies will be able to track activity and adjust premiums on the fly. Such devices will form part of the larger Internet of Things (IoT) trend where machine-to-machine communication allows levels of monitoring and automation never before possible. Frost & Sullivan forecasts total spending on IoT in the Asia-Pacific region to grow to US$59 billion by 2020. Governments, too, are supporting this trend. For example, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore was a key sponsor of the IoT Asia conference held for the first time in 2014. The event will be held again in 2015.
2. Online streaming to replace TV
With broadband connections now common in homes, streamed content is rapidly replacing conventional television broadcasts. This trend will continue to gain momentum in 2015 as companies such as Netflix extend their reach into other markets. Others in the streaming space include Quickflix in Australia and StarHub TV Anywhere in Singapore. Such activity will put significant pressure on incumbent television networks which will have to rethink how they distribute their content to an increasingly online audience. Change is the new constant.
3. Ongoing growth of the cloud
2015 will also be a year in which cloud computing - in its various guises - becomes the norm in business, either as a replacement for or adjunct to in-house IT infrastructures. As senior managers become more comfortable with cloud platforms, the prospect of the significant cost savings and vast improvements in efficiency on offer will be too good to pass up.
Most organisations are likely to follow a hybrid approach to cloud, choosing to retain some functions in house while at the same time shifting others to appropriate external platforms. It's no longer a case of 'if', but rather 'how' the cloud can be put to work. Governments are also adopting cloud platforms at an increasing rate. For example, in Australia the Federal Government has mandated that all departments adopt cloud platforms wherever possible. This follows similar initiatives by governments in the United Kingdom and the United States.
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