Over the last ten years, the human element has become more significant than ever before in the enterprise IT space, a trend that will continue in the coming decade. Enterprise communications and collaborations will continue to evolve, and the consumerisation of devices (also referred to as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend) will become so ubiquitous that it will cease to be a topic for debate. The current sense of controversy and speculation will evaporate, and BYOD will simply be life as know it - an individual freedom as basic as choosing your own wardrobe.
Here are some trends I expect to emerge.
1. All enterprises -- every last one -- will have to accommodate their employees' technological preferences. They'll let them use whatever devices they choose -- smartphones, tablets, and yet-to-be-invented devices -- and the enterprises will manage those devices securely and effectively. And this trend will become a competitive issue, not just a way to accommodate employees, as the convenience that we all enjoy as consumers morphs into a requirement that all employers must satisfy. Since human resources are one of the most important assets of any organisation, retention of employees is a necessary and important topic that all organisations will have to consider - including letting employees use their technology of choice on the job.
2. Enterprise computing demands will continue to grow, and with those demands, the distributive nature of how and where applications run -- on-premise within the enterprise, in the cloud, or on a partner's network -- will become much more evident. Enterprises will build additional infrastructures to enhance the speed of applications, accommodate the growth in computing demand, and make it easier for businesses to interact with their customers, partners, vendors and others.
3. Rather than relying solely on network security to secure that all-important enterprise asset, information, enterprises will protect their IT infrastructure and confidential data, enforce meaningful policy, and comply with regulations and policies with greater speed and efficiency than ever before.
4. All enterprises will face an increasing need to secure and move confidential data, private data, and other critical information. Connections between partners will become an integral part of the compliance challenge all enterprises must solve. The enterprise will recognise very quickly that the private information that flows between them and their partners must be handled appropriately, which means that the security policies (or lack thereof) of partners will become an important part of the compliance story.
5. Enterprises will recognise that the definition of an "insider" is fundamentally changing. By connecting critical B2B systems together to increase the productivity of our employees, we will enable our partners' employees and contractors to access resources that are today only available internal to our own organisation. The threat from outside hackers and organised crime will continue, but the increased number of potential insiders will pose new threats.
6. In order to accommodate employees' technology preferences and ensure the security and regulatory compliance of the organisation as a whole, we will have to provide employees with standard, easy-to-use tools for processing and sharing important data with partners. Training employees to use these tools will be an integral part of ensuring compliance.
When we combine all of these trends into an uber scenario where employees are communicating confidential information with other employees and external organisations -- using whatever medium they wish and any device they choose -- and the data and applications are divided between on-premise and cloud infrastructures, a big truth becomes evident: If you make all of the above activity truly data-centric, when you think of the data first and use sophisticated encryption, digital signature, and integrity techniques that guarantee the data is uncorrupted, then you will optimise your ability to successfully protect data and make it accessible only to those authorised to see it.
In this not-too-distant-future scenario, a "brave new world" of enterprise products will enable organisations to conduct business effectively and more efficiently; and organisations will choose technology vendors based on how well vendors support the new modes of business cooperation and collaboration. A vendor that provides a complete, seamless, easy-to-use platform that supports collaboration will make compliance a much simpler task as the business evolves.
Let's all commit to making this happen. Let's develop and deploy products and solutions that account for different communication methods, protocols, and devices. Let's fully enable and the human element in the enterprise IT space; let's capitalise on their passion for collaboration, not stymie it.