With the New Year barely begun, you can expect to see articles making predictions about what's on the horizon — so we're jumping on the bandwagon and looking at trends for IT consultants in 2016.
We interviewed four IT professionals they highlighted seven things you should be on the lookout for in the upcoming year.
1. Two-Factor Authentication
Ryan Disraeli (@RyanDisraeli), co-founder and VP of TeleSign (@TeleSign), a data security company focused on protecting mobile identities, predicts we'll see an increased adoption of two-factor authentication.
TeleSign's research found two main reasons why people don't use 2FA. In particular, they didn't know…
- What it was.
- How to turn it on.
At the same time, customers are clamoring for more security. According to TeleSign's recent Consumer Account Security Report [PDF], 68 percent of users are requesting extra layers of security.
For this reason, TeleSign has launched TurnOn2FA.com to educate businesses and consumers about the security boost offered by 2FA.
Chris Ciborowski (@chrisciborowski), founder of Nebulaworks, predicts DevOps (the practice of collaborative, communicative, and fast development and delivery of IT solutions) will continue to trend with companies looking for "cost savings, as well as greater agility and better business alignment."
Ciborowski points out that DevOps lowers the amount of technical debt on an IT project and potentially lowers long-term costs. He suggests IT consultants emphasize this aspect and provide examples of companies saving on their IT implementations when pitching these projects to clients.
3. Adapting your skills
Dustin Bolander, VP at Texas-based Technology Pointe (@techpointe), says that IT professionals need to adapt their skillset and realize that business skills may be more important than tech ones in the current IT environment. What makes the 2016 IT environment different?
"Instead of an engineer sitting there feeding and caring for your servers," Bolander says, "you have someone more akin to a business analyst who is making sure the right people have access to the right tools."
The takeaway: IT consultants aren't desk jockeys any longer – they're business analysts.
Bolander reports that 75 percent of his clients weren't virtualized last year. Now they're rushing to catch up. As Bolander puts it, "The answer to what are they virtualizing now, is everything."
Why the rush? Many clients have delayed upgrades. Now that the economy has picked up, these gun-shy small businesses are opening their pocketbooks and making overdue investments in their technology.
5. Rising costs of security incidents
Bolander has also seen his clients "get the ball rolling" when it comes to security compliance, particularly HIPAA. High fines can accompany HIPAA violations, so businesses are pushing to invest more in secure IT.
As we covered in "Have Healthcare Clients? Time to Beef Up Your Data Security Practices," healthcare data breaches cost three times more than a retailer breach. These high costs have spurred some businesses to shore up their defenses.
6. Client education
Security hinges not just on having the right tools, but also ensuring users know what they're doing. Julian Jacobsen, founder of St. Louis-based IT consulting group JJ Micro, predicts that client education will continue to play a growing role in security.
Jacobsen highlights identifying phishing scams, browsing smart, and spotting social engineering attacks as three areas to focus educational efforts on. He predicts that in 2016 with Crypto variants running rampant, teaching users to identity phishing attempts will be paramount.
7. Continued growth for cyber uncertainty
A recent NetDiligence report [PDF] found that the median cost of a cyber insurance claim was $76,984. And, despite what you hear on the news, most of the cyber claims occur at small organizations. Even if most people associate data breach risk with big-box retailers, your small and mid-sized business clients will continue to face cyber security risks. See our information on IT consultant insurance for more on covering your cyber and professional liabilities.
Help your clients manage their exposures by pointing them to our free eBook “The Small-Business Owner’s Guide to Identity Theft Protection and Data Security” [PDF].
Add These Takeaways to Your IT Resolutions
As you write New Year's resolutions for your business, focus on these takeaways to be prepared for 2016:
- IT consultants have to adopt hybrid tech and business roles.
- Security is a growing issue, but IT consultants can be ready for this by training their clients and ensuring clients understand the high costs of security problems.
- Tech contractors need to speak the language of their clients, focusing on how their IT solutions affect the clients' bottom line.
Feeling nostalgic for 2015? Check out a post from the beginning of the year: "In 2015, Tell Your Clients They Need a Cyber Security Policy."