While 2013 may appear calmer compared to 2012 due in part to fewer “big” events scheduled this year, the information technology (IT) industry and profession advances forward. The IT industry, interestingly enough, shapes events in addition to being shaped by events around the world.
Here we are the beginning of another year. It comes as no surprise that 2013 bring us new opportunities and challenges. The year 2012 was charged with news and information on the United States’s economy and events—both political and non-political as well as both good and bad—around the world.
Some major events of 2012 included the olympics, an election, a “super storm,” and continued unrest abroad. While 2013 may appear calmer compared to 2012 due in part to fewer “big” events scheduled this year, the information technology (IT) industry and profession advances forward. The IT industry, interestingly enough, shapes events in addition to being shaped by events around the world.
I use the phrase “shaped and is shaped by” because IT has become so pervasive and such a part of our lives that it's importance cannot be measured. We have seen social media take a bigger role in political events around the world, and we hear the “smart” adjective on more and more of our devices and appliances. For 2013, I see “analytics” as being the year’s the big IT word.
All the data that the actions of our lives produce is continually being processed and analyzed by social media, smart devices, and the online activity we interact with constantly, more often without us even thinking about it. We will see more data analysis in 2013, but whether these analytics are good or bad, I will leave that to the reader. Here are some of my predictions for our IT industry and profession for 2013.
We will hear more about “smart” physical, or perimeter, security systems. We will see the market for these security system grow, and we will see these security systems become more ubiquitous in 2013. I do not necessarily make this prediction happily, as it is mostly a response to the acts of violence we have seen committed in our nation. These smart security systems are largely based on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Future Attribute ScreeningTechnology (FAST) program, and they also depend upon configuration management for their successful operation.
The FAST technology seeks to detect malevolent actions before they can be committed. FAST uses sophisticated screening to detect behaviors that are likely to be exhibited by potential criminals. FAST systems use hardware and software systems to measure bodily changes such as body temperature, eye movement, body movement, voice pitch, and other changes. All this data is analyzed by the system against baseline data to identify potential candidates who may have malicious purposes. FAST is a collaboration between computer and behavioral scientists, and it is another example of analytics predicting human behavior.
FAST systems have key advantages. They are built with small cameras and other stealthy, inexpensive, easily and redundantly configured hardware; the results can be analyzed in real time, and they can be instantly relayed to a remote lab or security center for further action. In 2013, we will see more public places like shopping centers, theaters, transportation hubs, etc., deploying “FAST-like” systems to tighten security. These systems will provide opportunities for the IT profession, and they make a lot of sense—these smart systems are economical, noninvasive, proactive, and any false positives are likely not injurious.
My second prediction is that big data will mature. This buzz word for analytics of large systems will need to be addressed by configuration managers. In this context, large systems are cities, countries, corporations, financial markets, or consumer markets. Any group that is so large and complex that its data cannot be analyzed by regular database tools or applications is becoming known as big data. Big data analytics look to detect business trends and risks such as “bubbles,” in which analysts can determine disease patterns, the subtleties of criminal activity, and more. Everyday we use some of the tools that will make the analytics of big data easier. These tools are search engines and social media platforms.
Some big companies’ databases house an enormous repository that is preconfigured for analysis. In 2013, we will hear and see the big IT firms like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and HP, offering big data analysis solutions. This will lay the ground work for medium and small IT firms to also offer big data solutions.
My third prediction is that Apple’s sharp growth will begin to flatten out and will continue to decelerate in 2013. Notice I said decelerate, not decline—that’s a big difference. This is not to say that Apple will not continue to grow. However, Apple’s growth will become more in line with its competitors. The reason for Apple’s deceleration is less related to the loss of Steve Jobs and more related to the increased number of suppliers of equal or better quality products in the market. Some wonder if Apple may be overtaken as a top innovator. We saw the iPhone 5 late in 2012, and in my opinion, there was not much new. The availability of the wireless technology LTE and its larger screen was the best it offered.
Since about mid-2007, the best phone on the market was the iPhone, which no competitor came close to matching. We do not think of it today, and we may even forget, but the iPhone was revolutionary in use and its ability to extend itself with “apps.” It was a great five-year run. However, the last few years saw the arrival of the Android operating system, improved hardware devices, and Apple competitors, such as Samsung, that are taking market share away from Apple.
We have also seen some examples of Apple “dropping the ball.” Apple changed its relationship with Google, and then removed Google Maps and YouTube from its base iOS 6 operating system. The company then released an inferior maps product with iOS 6 that resulted in an apology from Apple to its customers. This and other factors will all combine and result in Apple’s growth flattening out, and may also contribute to more missteps in 2013.
My fourth prediction is that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other similar firms will learn more about us, not only by analyzing searches, but also by mining data from smart phone apps and other subtle sources. Google, Bing, Yahoo will not market big data solutions, but they have been and are analyzing the data. Search engines now have enough data on and about us that they can now predict our behavior. In 2013 we will begin to see the results of this data analysis. We will see better, more accurate IntelliSense text coming from popular search engines in the next year. This will lead the way for Google, Bing, and Yahoo to one day appear to read our minds.
I also predict that the economy will remain flat in 2013. No set of predictions would be complete without an economic prediction. The outlook by a preponderance of economists predicts a flat economy for 2013. We will continue to see unemployment greater than 7 percent, and economic growth and overall new job growth will continue to be flat. We can also look forward to more inflation. There are plenty of economic challenges ahead in 2013. However, the IT industry will remain strong. Mobile will be the IT word of the year for 2013. In today’s households, mobile data is the second highest bill, behind a mortgage or housing rent. The demand for mobile applications and mobile access to data will only increase in 2013. The mobile infrastructure is now ready for HTML5 making a more flexible, browser-less environment for mobile applications. However, mobile will bring it's own challenges related to configuration and release management.
Finally, I believe the most exciting prediction for 2013 will be the growth of smart cloud applications. The cloud will less be a place to store data, and will more be a place to run applications. All of this will result in a continuing demand for developers and the firms supplying them. IT staffing firms, cloud providers and IT training firms will have a particularly strong growth in 2013. IT giants, including Microsoft, IBM, and HP will have flat growth in 2013, while smaller-and medium-size IT firms will demonstrate their agility and ability to grow and meet the challenges of the coming year.