2019 State of the IT Industry Landscape, Part 1: Change & Cybersecurity

By July 15, 2019 July 29th, 2019 Leadership
2019 State of the IT Industry Landscape by OXEN Technology

The IT industry is very dynamic. Increasing cybersecurity threats and new, emerging technologies demand that we pay attention to what’s on the horizon. In order to be a valuable partner, consultant, and trusted IT leader for our clients, OXEN Technology must know what’s going on in our industry. We are obligated to understand the environment our clients are operating in and the technology needs that are (and will be) affecting them.

With this in mind, we take a step back every few years and review the IT landscape. We hear about new cybersecurity threats and emerging technology all the time. However, a deeper review is necessary to make sure we are prepared to serve our clients in the years ahead.

Our current research review of the state of the IT landscape in 2019 reveals one thing: everything is changing, and the only constant is the growing need for cybersecurity.

In this first part of our update on the 2019 state of the IT landscape, we’ll look at how change is accelerating in all areas, from business models and the workforce to technology and buyers.

We know that the IT industry and therefore the content of our research can be technical and full of industry-specific jargon. OXEN is proud of our ability to apply technical capability into simple to understand solutions to meet client business challenges and opportunities.

Cybersecurity: The One Constant

Changes in the IT industry have never offered more potential, more risk, and more hype. Most innovation assumes that more and more devices connect to each other. It also assumes increasingly more devices will connect to large data centers where the explosion of data can be analyzed in real time. In an everything-connected world, cybersecurity is a consistent theme and top priority.

Cybersecurity is not the next big thing. It is the one very big thing that is as old as IT itself. It continues to rise in importance as business and daily life are increasingly digitized.

As understanding and awareness of the current business risks associated with cyber threats improve, many businesses are increasing their security investments or elevating their security focus. Recent research shows that more than 30% of CEO’s of mid-sized and large businesses still do not believe that the risk of data loss is a significant threat to their businesses. This is despite the overwhelming data and public visibility of cyber threats. However, enlightened business leaders are:

  • Moving beyond a defensive approach that utilizes technology tools such as firewalls and anti-virus.
  • Proactive in probing for weaknesses or detecting possible breaches (such as penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, and security analytics).
  • Moving beyond technical aspects (building business processes that enhance security; implementing both cybersecurity policies and end user training to mitigate human error).

Companies are taking security more seriously. But they must now realize that modern security demands a different mentality rather than just more of the same.

Change Is Accelerating

A recent survey by Google suggests that the rate of change in IT environments is about to significantly accelerate. Businesses and their Managed IT Service Providers will need to absorb this change in the years ahead.

Business Models Are Changing

IT is now directly driving strategic objectives rather than playing only a supporting role.

  • Customer acquisition happens on digital platforms.
  • Brand awareness is built through social media.
  • Market share is gained through omnichannel experiences.
  • These initiatives are not achieved simply by building programs on top of technology, but by using technology as the primary mechanism for success.
  • Businesses require IT savvy leaders and partners that know their businesses, which encourages industry specialization.

Everything as a Service is destroying traditional business approaches. Technology is embedded in all services and even traditionally “low-tech” products.

Digital Transformation is creating a “4th Industrial Revolution”.

  • Cloud, 5G networks, and edge computing become the new infrastructure.
  • The overall complexity of managing IT ecosystems significantly increases.
  • An “everything communicating” environment increases business risk of security breaches
  • “Stacking” new technologies to enable new applications creates a greater need to connect the dots across a broad set of existing and emerging technologies.

Effectively engaging and managing multiple partners becomes critical as breadth and depth of required skills and capabilities become overwhelming

The Workforce Is Changing

We are experiencing a generational shift as baby boomers are retiring.

  • One third of all IT company leaders will retire in the next 5-7 years.
  • Millennials will be 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2025. Importantly, new workers do not want to use legacy IT systems like email, project management, or intranets. This increases corporate intellectual property and security risks.
  • New workers are expected to change jobs every 3 years.
  • Temporary, contract, and web-based contract work will increase.

There is rapid integration of technology into “low tech” jobs.

  • Examples: Farming, construction, food prep, delivery of goods, building management
  • Creates opportunities, challenges, and resistance
  • Creates new opportunities for persons with meaningful cybersecurity training
  • Defining value becomes critical

And lastly, shortages of skills will continue throughout 2019.

  • 40% of IT firms have open job positions.
  • 250,000 tech positions were posted per month in 2018.
  • Emerging tech positions postings were up 74% from 2017.
  • Forbes wrote that 3.5 million cybersecurity positions will be unfilled by 2021.

Technology Is Changing

Market disrupting technology is more accessible than ever.

  • Think of robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, analytics, the Internet of Things, cloud, 5G networks, cryptocurrency (e.g., bitcoin), blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technology), ransomware-as-a-service, drones, and 3D printing. How do we determine what is hype and what is real?
  • Skill gaps will widen as this change accelerates. IT unemployment is currently under 2.1% in the U.S.
  • Shadow IT is also growing. And IT departments do not control spending on many of these unauthorized, unacknowledged devices, services, or software.
  • Automation is on the rise. McKinsey & Company estimates 6 in 10 occupations have at least 30% of their job tasks that could potentially be automated.
  • Data volume is exploding.
  • “The network of everything” increases security threats.

New global “tech innovation hubs” are emerging.

  • The Internet has made access to innovation “ingredients” available everywhere.
  • The U.S. piece of the technology innovation pie is shrinking. Toronto, Nairobi, Budapest, Singapore, Stockholm, Dubai, and Sao Paulo are growing rapidly.
  • Countries, states, and towns all have the opportunity to become new hubs.
  • Security and privacy threats abound.

Buyers Are Changing

Buyers control the sales process in every industry more consistently. Products and solutions are not enough — buying experience is critical.

  • 97% of B2B buyers start with an online search.
  • “Hyper-personalization”: Segmenting customers into specific buckets goes to the extreme. Marketing and engagement get down to the individual level. Amazon and Apple are leaders in the consumer space; business consumers are demanding similar experiences.
  • Educating buyers is critical – sellers need to become the recognized expert. Getting buyers’ attention must transform to effectively use Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Privacy and security concerns are growing:

  • Will regulators or public sentiment impact technology sector growth?
  • AI (algorithmic) bias: Systems are making decisions, sometimes wrongly or controlled by biased agents. For example, think of China’s social credit system and Google EU lawsuits regarding unfair/restricting of competition.

What’s Next?

The second part of our 2019 State of the IT Landscape update will cover the current economic outlook for the U.S. and the IT industry, as well as the relevance of IT for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). We hope you will join us!


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