In my final piece, I’d like to reflect on some of the themes I’ve explored here throughout the years, particularly in the first year, to assess our progress thus far and, if possible, anticipate our future directions.
As is evident, there just isn’t enough room or time to go over everything again. Yet there are six major points I’d want to make.
Technologies That Can Be Worn
When I initially wrote about Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, it felt like wearable technology was going to revolutionize the world. Technology firms, sporting goods producers, fashion houses, and high-end watchmakers were all releasing their own versions of smartwatches and fitness trackers. Google Glass’s colossal failure has not yet thrown the category back a decade by permanently frightening people everywhere.
Things have changed dramatically now. Although it faces competition from a number of cheaper and more straightforward alternatives, the Apple Watch has found success in a niche market for collecting users’ fitness and health data. Google Glass and similar devices are experimental technologies with limited commercial potential. And what about my lofty goal of having wearable technology completely transform the IT industry? To be honest, we have yet to receive that.
Cell Phones, Smartphones, And Tablets
Those large phones (or little tablets) were called “phablets” by myself and my friends six years ago, and we had a lot of fun making puns about them. Okay, so that transpired. Even the term “phablet,” which was coined to describe ever-larger mobile devices, has fallen out of use. There’s nothing special about them; they’re just phones and technology.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) And “Shadow IT”
In 2013, BYOD was still the most common definition of “shadow IT,” but now that more and more robust cloud services are available, the term encompasses much more than just employees of large companies using their own smartphones on the company’s network. Cloud computing, cloud storage, and even “everything-as-a-service“ are becoming commonplace components of shadow IT. In addition, the situation is becoming much more challenging for IT departments due to the proliferation of shadow IoT. How do you make sure people are safe and private without making your organization’s workers less productive?
Equal Access To The Internet
Hoo-boy. Net neutrality is now official U.S. policy after years of heated debate that was fueled by ideological differences, all-out business war between communications companies and online services, and different ideas about what freedom really means. A new president and FCC chairman abruptly altered the status quo. This time, at least. Probably. I mean, come on, do we really think that? There will always be debates over whether or not the internet should be treated equally.
There’s a cloud over our heads
Back when I first started editing TechWatch, the cloud was just a neat concept looking for its home in a world where private data centers were still the norm. The tables have turned today. The cloud has become the de facto standard for new IT infrastructure tasks, and it is slowly replacing traditional mission-critical applications and systems. While there are still many unanswered questions about the cloud, including its cost, security, compliance, and reliability, the year 2019 is drawing to a close, and it is clear that the cloud will deliver on its promise of greatly increased development speed and agility. With the proliferation of cloud services, it is becoming harder for CIOs and other modern IT professionals to argue against moving some or all of their operations online.
For some time now, the Internet of Things has been a major focus for TechWatch (see How the Internet of Things will – and won’t – revolutionize IT). In that time, the IoT has gone from being a promising idea with few practical applications to one of the most important technologies in the world, with the potential to alter everything from the way we brush our teeth to how we travel in our cars to how we keep our airplanes in the air. Even while we’ve come a long way, there are still some major roadblocks to overcome. There is still a threat to IoT adoption due to worries about IoT security, particularly on the consumer side. IoT deployments have been slowed by issues like poor compatibility and ambiguous return on investment.
However, these are merely bumps in the road. Whether we like it or not, the IoT will continue to expand. However, development is rarely linear, predictable, or manageable. Often, goals, measurements, controls, and backup plans are not made before IoT devices and networks are put in place. This is how almost every significant technological advancement has been made, which may sound like a formula for disaster. The companies that succeed with the IoT will be the ones that figure out how to get the most out of it while minimizing its drawbacks. I intend to keep a careful eye on developments.