Jan 03 2014

What Does Business Technology Have in Store for 2014?

With the new year comes renewed hope for invention and innovation in IT.

In 2013, the IT industry achieved maturity and refinement in both mobile and cloud computing. While some tech enthusiasts and pundits bemoaned the lack of a giant leap in technology, others applauded the industry’s less “sexy” advancements.

But if 2013 was a disappointing year in technology, hopes are high for what can be achieved in 2014.

Several technology experts, workers and executives have put out their predictions for the year ahead, so we thought we’d round up some of the more intriguing ideas.

The Machines (and Data) Will Take Over

As one-time CEO of Google, executive chairman Eric Schmidt has steered the company through several successful yet challenging times. Although he failed to read the signs for the eventual success of tablets and social media, he’s confident that Big Data is going to be an even bigger deal in 2014.

“The biggest disruptor that we're sure about is the arrival of big data and machine intelligence everywhere - so the ability [for businesses] to find people, to talk specifically to them, to judge them, to rank what they're doing, to decide what to do with your products, changes every business globally,” Schmidt says.

The Mobile World Will Be More Divided

As an early adopter of mobile technology, SAP has made a name for itself as a leading company in securing and managing data on mobile devices. Bill Clark, global vice president of mobile strategy at SAP, offered several IT predictions for 2014. But, interestingly, he believes that mobile fragmentation is destined to continue, not decrease, in the new year.

"Apple is on course to set more records with the introduction of the 5s, while Samsung continues to gain ground against the smartphone leader. And even Windows phones are catching on with the Lumia being treated to an aggressive advertising push," Clark says. "With increasing variety and features being offered, companies are no longer able to force a device on employees and expect them to be happy. In 2014, we’ll see an increasing fragmentation in the mobile market and a scramble from companies looking for ways to manage devices of all types and operating systems to provide business features while preventing data loss."

Apple’s Smartwatch Will Materialize

Wearable technology is gaining steam, and if there’s one company whose entry into the market is eagerly anticipated, it’s Apple. Rumors of an iWatch have swirled for quite some time but have failed to manifest into anything tangible.

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable’s editor in chief, is confident that Apple will make its mark with a must-have smartwatch in 2014.

“I anticipate the best-looking, most highly functional smartwatch on the market. At this time next year, it’ll be the holiday season’s hottest gadget,” he writes in his predictions post on Mashable.

The Lines Between Consumer and Enterprise IT Will Disappear

The consumerization of IT has done a lot to erase much of the long-held thinking around what is and isn’t suitable for the enterprise. But at the same time, consumers have become much more sophisticated users, demanding more and more advanced functionality from their technology.

In an article on ReadWrite, longtime technology journalist Brian Proffitt shares his belief that 2014 will be the year everyone stops worrying about the distinctions between enterprise and consumer IT and focuses more on customization and contextualization of data and applications.

“Very soon, we may come to realize that there is little to no difference in the code of enterprise versus consumer services, and that what really matters is the context. How is the data being used and who has the greatest influence?” Proffitt says.

What are some of your predictions for business IT in 2014?