This Year’s Disruptive Technologies – And How To Stop Them De-Stabilising Your Organisation
In an age when information can be gleaned from anything, and zapped to a recipient machine anywhere, it is not difficult to appreciate how digitisation can turbo-boost your business and disrupt the traditional value chain. The many case studies, prototypes and innovations at this year’s CeBIT will be exciting as they will be instructive.
There are so many upsides to digital transformation for businesses and other organisations. Talking to the pioneers at CeBIT, I will almost certainly get carried away with plans, schemes and ideas for my own organisation. However, it is also worth remembering that transformative technologies, while positive for some, will have a very de-stabilising effect on many companies. Those that are not prepared will suffer a lag in productivity, efficiency and innovation. From my experience talking to people responsible for corporate networks, there is also some apprehension. We all want technology to be an enabler, but what if we don’t plan carefully enough and it actually becomes a business inhibitor?
These are real concerns of real IT directors, managers and network administrators I’ve spoken to. Looking at the key themes at this year’s CeBIT, here are the five trends IT staff should be prepared for.
“Button-sized computers” have the power to wreak havoc in the network. When Intel unveiled its new Intel Curie Module earlier this year, the tiny low-power hardware module aimed at the wearables market, it reminded network administrators / IT professionals / IT managers of what they fear most: the unseen, unplanned for events that are liable to hijack the whole system. Increasingly powerful computers can be embedded into ever smaller objects – watches, glasses, jewellery – meaning the amount of technology capable of connecting to the Internet keeps expanding, while the organisation’s network feels the strain from seemingly invisible forces.
We know a bit surge of connected “things” is coming. Commentators may disagree on the exact number of connected devices, but the projections are in the tens of billions, so we know this will be a huge change. For example, Gartner says there will be 4.9 billion connected things in 2015, jumping to 25 billion by 2020.
There have been some impressive advances in Wi-fi speed from companies like D-link and its new line of super-fast 802.11ac routers. This is great news for the Internet of Things, which hinges on our possessions communicating with each other, sometimes with minimum intervention from us. The ability to transmit data-heavy or complex files opens up the possibilities of what it means to be in a connected world, but it carries some very real problems for the IT manager / network administrator. An explosion of data over the organisation’s Wi-fi network is set to drain resources and make capacity planning a nightmare.
…Which brings me to wearable technology. 2015 will be an important year for wearables. There are already a number of major manufacturers producing smart watches and Apple has announced its intent in this regard. Samsung unveiled the Gear S at earlier this year, which combines the functionality of a phone with the design of a watch. Here is a device that looks like a watch but has a SIM card, makes calls and connects to the Internet. Small, portable, easy to use – smart watches and other wearable tech encourage users to keep them on all the time no matter where they are. This does not just mean a drain on the organisation’s resources. What it also signals is the line between personal and business use becoming blurred, making it harder to retain control of data. In their excitement to use wearable gadgets, employees will need to be educated about their compliance and data security implications.
“2015 will be the year of Apple Pay,” Tim Cook told the world in February 2015 during Apple’s Q1 2015 earnings call. The company has already partnered with some 750 banks and credit unions so what started out as a mobile payment experiment is fast becoming as standard as…well, as having an iPhone. Similarly, other, smaller players are doing clever things with our money, dispensing the need to carry any of it, whether cash or plastic. Increasingly our personal data, such as credit card information or passwords, are being condensed into one application or physical card. This runs a real security risk with the potential for customer data to be shared in placed it shouldn’t. Although the e-wallet is tempting for consumers, it’s a compliance headache for all those responsible for data integrity.
Gadgets like the Fitbit are increasingly popular for getting fit. In the latest version, Fitbit Charge HR can actually monitor your heart rate. It is easier than ever to keep track of the vital statistics of your training – distances, times, number of steps and now heart rate. While this is a consumer gadget intended for personal use, the applications of such medical and healthcare monitoring devices are expanding rapidly. They are not restricted to measuring heart rate, nor are they restricted to what we might easily refer to as “ill” people.
One of their key advantages is enabling the “patient” to be monitored while maintaining his / her regular schedule, whether at home or at work, rather than requiring costly and inconvenient hospital trips. However, it also means that, as an IT manager / network administrator, your job becomes harder. People have been sending increasing amounts of data originating from an increasing array of devices around the corporate network, and this trend is only set to increase.
Similarly, the sophistication of modeling and graphics programmes will put additional pressure on bandwidth and create a ripple effect on the network with multiple points of access and vulnerability.
Don’t get me wrong. If an organisation is prepared for the tide of digitisation, there are definite upsides. The IT department, as the guardians of the workplace data, will be the front line feeling the effects of the increased pressures. We need to therefore make sure we acknowledge all the ways these technologies will affect businesses and address them before they become problematic.
For more information on the network, server and application monitoring, you can download Ipswitch’s white paper here.
By Alessandro Porro, Vice President of International Sales, Ipswitch