February 29, 2016
The speed of innovation in the technology world is blindingly fast, and as your Chicago IT consultants, we’re often so focused on mastering new technologies that it’s easy to forget how far the industry has come. Today, on this rarely seen February 29th, we’d like to stop and reflect on the last four years.
A lot has changed since 2012, and looking forward to our next leap year in 2020, we can expect some pretty amazing things in technology.
The State of the Technology Industry 2012 vs. 2016
2012 was an interesting year. We all survived the Mayan apocalypse, we had another presidential election, and the Giants beat the Patriots again in the Superbowl, but the technology trends of the day told a different story. In 2012, we were seeing the rumblings of technologies now taking hold across organizations of all sizes.
Cloud Technologies: In 2012, the idea of cloud technology was just beginning to gain wide appeal after five years of hype. All the major public cloud players we know today were already making waves: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Beyond that, many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications like Salesforce were available.
- The Cloud Today: With the foundation of cloud already established in 2012, the last four years have been about adoption and implementation. Many great SaaS ideas generated leading up to 2012 were actualized and refined into real usable products in the intervening years.
- Microsoft Office 365 — Just one example is Microsoft O365. Originally announced in 2010, O365 now features a robust suite of services including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and more.
The Internet of Things (IoT): Harking back to visions of the future in the 1950s, the Internet of Things promised to add smart functionality and internet capabilities to everyday household objects. In 2012, the prediction largely focused around Near Field Communication (NFC) and mobile payments which would allow your phone to function like a debit card in brick and mortar stores.
- The IoT Today: Apple Pay and Android Pay are certainly more prevalent now than in 2012, but the big strides in the IoT have come in the wide variety and availability of wearable and smart devices today. For example:
- The Fitbit — 10.9 Million Units Sold in 2014
- The Nest Smart Thermostat — 40,000 – 50,000 sold per month in 2014
- Apple Smart Watches — 3.6 million sold in Q2 2015
Mobility: Four years ago tablets were starting to come into their own, smart phones had just become the ubiquitous must-haves we now know them to be, and technologists of the day predicted a clear trend toward mobility.
- Mobility in 2016: The network has caught up to the mobility aspirations of 2012. IT environments can take advantage of such options as Cisco Collaboration Edge, Meraki Cloud Managed Solution, or any number of SaaS applications to free their employees from their desk and the hassles of a virtual private network. We still may be waiting for the watershed moment when tablets completely replace laptops and PCs but the 21st century workforce has never been more mobile.
- BYOD: Mobility has taken hold to the point that companies are pressured to find ways to allow their employees to use their own personal devices for work purposes.
Looking Forward to 2020: Leap Year
If the trend the past four years has been one of refinement and adoption, we should expect something similar in the years to come. Take everything we use now, make it faster, more efficient, and more widely used.
From there, we can also look at some technologies that have been waiting in the wings to be fully developed and fully realized. Many of the devices we could be using in 2020 may sound like pipe dreams now, but so did the smart phone. In less than ten years, it has become one of, if not the most, used device in existence.
Here’s a few things to look forward to in 2020:
- Virtual Reality: Market research agency, Research and Markets, projects that the virtual reality industry will be worth nearly 16 billion by 2020. The Occulus Rift is already available as a consumer product for a couple hundred dollars. With four years to further refine the virtual reality experience, there’s no telling just how widespread this will become.
- Flash Storage: By 2020, all flash storage will have completely replaced traditional hard disk drives (HDD) except perhaps in archival situations where capacity trumps speed. IT directors today can already deploy flash arrays at the same price disk was a year ago. Considering HDD storage tends to be on a three year maintenance cycle, most companies by 2020 will have had an opportunity to consider the benefits of an all flash array.
- The InterCloud: Organizations large and small are already taking advantage of public, private, and hybrid cloud deployments, and that will become more popular by 2020. However, the next step in cloud computing is beginning to be realized with certain products like Cisco Intercloud Fabric. The Intercloud is a cloud of clouds. Imagine if major cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or even just a private enterprise had the ability to access the resources of other clouds as needed. Imagine if every cloud were connected this way, and huge collections of data centers were all linked in a seamless pool of storage and compute. In the next four years, we’ll take steps in this direction.
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