As we sum up the IT news from 2015, allow us to paraphrase Charles Dickens: it was the best of tech, it was the worst of tech.
In the last 12 months, we saw exactly what makes it so exciting to work in tech – ideas that once seemed the purview of science fiction inched closer to reality. But the year also brought its fair share of face-palm-inducing tech mistakes. IT blunders exposed companies to unnecessary risks and data breaches continued ad nauseam.
Read on for the top stories in IT and how they can make 2016 your best year yet.
The Best of Tech – Innovation and Bigger IT Paychecks
- Virtual reality. Maybe you caught the splashy LeBron James commercial of Oculus and Samsung Gear VR this Christmas (see TechCruch’s writeup). Or maybe you saw the Verge’s article about Google pouring a half billion dollars into mysterious virtual reality startup Magic Leap. Either way, 2015 may be remembered as the year that VR first started to seem, well, real.
- Enterprise mobility. Mobile tech giant Citrix reports that the number of mobile devices managed under the enterprise umbrella shot up 72 percent in the last year. That’s led to a greater need for creative and comprehensive mobile solutions, which means more virtualization and solutions that will work no matter where an employee is and what platform he or she is using.
- Driverless cars. Okay, driverless cars aren’t here yet. But in 2015 this technology took a huge leap forward. The biggest question remaining with driverless car technology is which company will get it done first? Google, Apple, Uber, and Tesla are racing to deliver a product to consumers.
- The cloud. Sure, the cloud has been the “thing” for years. But as we covered in “Key Talking Points for When Your Small-Business clients Ask about Cloud-Based Software,” consultants with cloud-related offerings are among those earning the biggest paychecks in IT. In other words, if you want to make it rain, go to the cloud. SaaS and subscription-based cloud services aren’t just great because of the benefits they offer; they’re great because they’re lucrative for IT professionals.
The Worst of Tech – Data Breaches and Billion-Dollar Fines
- Volkswagen. By this time, you’ve undoubtedly read stories about Volkswagen using software to cheat on vehicle emissions tests. This story reminds us that, just like super powers, technology can be used for evil as well as good. As MarketWatch reports, VW’s stock crashed 29 percent over two days and the company could face billion-dollar fines.
- The breaches. In addition to HIPAA violations and credit card data breaches, 2015 saw a number of personal data breaches. Web magazine GovTech points out that 2015’s breaches were more “intimate” than in years past. What does the magazine mean by that? Rather than just compromising SSNs and credit card data, there were a number of breaches that exposed intimate details, photos, and even secret liaisons and affairs (as happened in the Ashley Madison breach).
- The outages. United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange suffered significant outages that were blamed on glitches and faulty tech. According to Network World, a balky router was to blame for the outage that grounded hundreds of United flights in July. The moral of the story: tech is the linchpin for many companies; small glitches can lead to costly outages.
2 Lessons IT Consultants Should Carry into 2016
So what can you learn from 2015’s IT liabilities, data breaches, and incredible innovations? Focus on two things:
- Premium skills pay. Whether it’s data security, cloud computing, or big data, the top tech skills pay well. It’s a helpful reminder that as an IT consultant you need to keep up with new technology. Looking forward, that might mean clients are looking for consultants to help them with the cloud, Internet of Things, and enterprise mobility. Be ready to adapt your skill set.
- Technology insurance remains vital. New technology doesn’t mean you won’t have the same old liabilities. As outages at major companies show, tech miscues can lead to financial losses. These risks remain – and they’re why clients continue to ask that you carry Professional Liability Insurance.
For more tips on preparing your business for the New Year, make sure to check out “What's in Store for IT Consultants in 2016?”