What’s happening to IT in 2018/19?

On the cusp of real change, but seemingly at a more gentle pace than expected due to economic uncertainty, Mike Nelson summarises what he sees the key topics are for 2018/19 and beyond.

Security

Over the last year we have seen a marked increase in sophisticated security threats, including some that have impacted on our client base.  These combined with legislative change in the form of GDPR suggest that pro-active action needs to be taken.  A shift of thinking away from technology based defences to proactive steps that include technology, process, and education in the form of security awareness training. There is no doubt that companies are taking security more seriously, but now they must realise that simply buying the latest threat protection isn’t going to cut it.

Cloud Maturity

More than 80% of our clients use Cloud in some form, notably this year we are seeing our first clients move towards a full cloud model.  They can do this, because the key line of business applications for their business have offered a full Cloud “Software as a Service” option.  When combined with the ever more powerful offerings from Microsoft and Google, where online document storage continues to evolve and becomes much more integrated into the latest desktop applications, we recognise that for many, the need for a local server will cease or become less critical.

Connectivity needs to mature too.

Clearly, as the Cloud products mature – the connectivity also needs to mature & improve, and fortunately, it is doing so with new ‘ultrafast’ lines now falling to a price that is quite acceptable.   Factor in that most of us will also be cancelling the soon to be extinct ISDN circuits and migrating to “hosted VoIP telephone systems”.  It is important not to simply take the ‘saving’, but to properly assess and re-invest in connectivity to ensure reliability remains for voice and increases for data thus being ready for full Cloud.

Board Room Expertise

With the advent of GDPR, Cyber Essentials and the general security threats facing us – board level engagement with cybersecurity and data governance is no longer optional.  It’s a tough ask to expect our non-IT executives to understand the new technology landscape spanning infrastructure, mobile & data, but to successfully implement change, direction needs to come from, or be sponsored by a senior executive.

Jobs and Skills

Cloud maturity means that the traditional “network engineer” will have a lot less to do.  Focus will need to shift towards integrating technology into industry.  We need to be “technologists” not IT engineers.  App savvy, function & output focussed people who get excited about what tech does for your business, not how sexy that 10Gb fibre switch is.  Of course, there will still be a need for on-site presence, to plug in the switch, to install the new PC – but probably the middle level skill of installing a physical server will reduce, it may be that the physical server is plugged in by a basic engineer, then a senior engineer will connect that server to a cloud service (Azure) from where it is ultimately controlled.

What does it mean for us, the MSP or IT Reseller?

A shift in focus from being an IT Engineering company, to a business technology consultancy with cloud administration skills and a helpdesk to truly help people with applications.  Over a 5-year period, we will need to transform to provide business advisory, integration, security and application customisation services.  We have been shifting our focus towards remote portal-based management with centralised options to make configuration changes, reducing our requirement to visit sites, making our team more efficient and effective and thus reducing response times and continuing to hold to our same low ‘per user’ cost as over the last 5+ years.

Mike Nelson
October 2018