What happened in IT in 2017? I talked to three of my colleagues at Total see what caught their attention over the last year.
Cloud now the standard
We started off with cloud – we’ve been talking about it in IT for years, so I was interested whether it has now become customers’ default position, rather than on-premise. Is the question now not so much ‘should we move to cloud’, as ‘why wouldn’t we’?
David Skinner, Microsoft Cloud and Solution Specialist, is clear on his view: “Yes – cloud is now the default. A lot of vendors are now moving away from on-premise software, and Microsoft and others are going subscription-based on everything."
“People are more confident in cloud and what it has to offer,” says David. “There have been a few security breaches this year, such as the NHS hack, that have been due to out of date software running on-premise. Companies are looking more at how they manage their software – and moving to the cloud is one good way of addressing that issue."
Simon Ashall, Head of Vendor Management, says, “Cloud vendors have told customers if you move to us, we can provide guarantees on security – for example, Microsoft will give you a certificate to say everything is covered for GDPR, which is a smart move and takes a weight off businesses’ minds.”
Matt Berry, Solutions Architect, adds, “Although some applications still need to be on-premise due to latency and security, which is why we’re seeing many organisations pursuing a hybrid model.”
Microsoft’s retreat on mobility
Next up, we discussed mobility. This time last year, we were expecting big things from the HP Elite x3, a Windows Phone which is a PC, tablet and smartphone in one.
It’s fair to say this didn’t have the impact that many people predicted for it, not being helped by Microsoft effectively giving up its efforts to compete head-on in the mobile space. Matt comments, “Microsoft is so far behind iOS and Android, in terms of market share and apps, they had to drop Windows Phone. But I think the idea of a Surface Phone isn’t dead, and they can come back.”
Simon adds, “The challenge is to have a device that can do everything in one piece of hardware; but the screen may either be too small or too large for any particular task. That’s perhaps why the Google Glass approach will work: carrying around glasses and a phone isn’t as inconvenient as carrying two devices.”
We haven’t seen any revolutionary changes this year, except perhaps the latest Apple Watch that has its own SIM, but speech control continues to become more capable and more popular. Simon comments, “You can see many people using speech recognition on their phones to send text and email – in a few years, the speech recognition is going to be significantly better, and you won’t need a keyboard at all.”
AR and VR continue to develop
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality have kept evolving, with the addition of AR capabilities to the iPhone X possibly marking a turning point. Apple has bought several augmented reality companies, including Vrvana, Metaio, Faceshift, FlyBy Media, and SensoMotoric Instruments, signalling its intentions in this space.
“From a VR perspective, we’re seeing it in the design world, with architects, car manufacturers, and any kind of area where there is a design element,” says Simon. “In terms of VR and mixed reality in general office use, that’s not really come to the fore yet, but in specialised areas such as design or surgery, many people are starting to use the technology in earnest.”
Matt adds, “With mixed reality, a lot of the demos we see are service-orientated, with an expert back at base telling someone on-site what to do, and seeing what they see – so you can fix more problems using that one resource.”
As with many recent technology shifts, adoption in the consumer space is happening first, which then makes people more comfortable to try new things in the workplace. David comments, “There are some great deals on PlayStation VR, and Sky are bringing out VR soon, which will drive interest.”
Lower rate of change
Overall, 2017 has had fewer major shifts than we’ve become used to. There have been continued mergers and consolidations, which can reduce options for customers in some areas of IT, but we’ve missed the dramatic innovations of other years.
What will this mean for 2018? Are there big changes waiting to be revealed, and will businesses be ready to commit to change? Look out for our next blog, which will detail Total’s predictions for 2018.