The current year is waning and the new one looms just ahead, which means we’ll be reading plenty about hot trends and what 2014 holds – in fashion, entertainment, weather, business, in everything it seems. The predictions will come fast and furious in the next few weeks and in fact have already started. For example, Gartner Research recently published its annual Top 10 strategic technology trends that “have the potential to affect individuals, businesses and IT organizations. This year's list reflects the increasing impact of the Nexus of Forces: mobile, social, cloud and information.” Their report is interesting and offers food for thought on what the upcoming year will bring in IT. Over the next few months, I’m sure I’ll read more research and opinions, and probably pass a few of them along to the readers of Staffing 360.
But the question I want to answer today isn’t what the IT trends are as much as what they mean to you and me and why it matters to think about them. I think there are three keys:
- IT trends matter to your business. Whether you own a company, manage a business unit, or run an IT department, knowing what’s new and worth taking advantage of can be critical to your success. Understanding the implications of cloud technology and how your business can benefit from it, or how big data might be transformational to your industry, could easily impact the bottom line. Being ahead of the curve in knowing how to leverage the newest developments for cost savings, efficiencies and growth is a competitive advantage. It may be just as important to know which trends to avoid, whether it’s because they will fizzle out or simply don’t fit in with your business model. Adoption or avoidance, remaining in the dark isn’t a good option.
- IT trends can indicate future job opportunities. New technologies need people to implement them. When there is a big shift in some part of the IT universe, it generally signals some change to the IT workforce as well. Think of the mobile application marketplace and how it is driving an increased need for developers and thus competition for those with the skills and experience employers are seeking. Competition for talent is a sure predictor of rising wages and good benefits. A trend can also indicate that an area is falling in importance and creating less opportunity. Seeing where the industry is going should help you make decisions about your own future. What can you do to position yourself to move into one of these new roles? Should you take classes? Will your employer train you if you make a good business case? If you are in college now, what should you be studying to prepare yourself? Understanding the latest trends can help put you in a position to capitalize on the opportunities innovation inevitably creates.
- IT trends suggest where the competition for IT talent will be heightened. New technologies by nature don’t have a dearth of qualified individuals ready to hire, so competition for talent is likely to be tougher. This is a sort of corollary to #2: business owners create those opportunities and supply and demand rules will apply. If your strategic plans include moving into these areas, expect to have to work harder to find and hire the best talent. The more “hot” and quickly adopted a trend is, the more likely it is that it will take you longer to find someone with those skills to hire. You can also expect to pay higher salaries and you’ll need to make your hiring decisions more quickly. Qualified people won’t linger! If a new technology is critical to your business success, then workforce planning will be even more of an imperative.
Not all trends or predictions come true or deliver on their initial promise and not every new technology is applicable to every business. There almost always seems to be something big and new happening on the horizon in IT. It is an incredibly dynamic and fast paced industry and sometimes a single new product or idea can launch huge, genuine change and create significant opportunities for many. Staying abreast of what’s happening broadly across the industry and specifically within its many subsectors is a business imperative for almost any IT professional. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information out there but don’t ignore it completely. One or more of the reasons above will apply to most of us – so keep up with the trends, just do so judiciously!
President and CEO