The Next 7 Steps in Convergence of Technology, Business—and Humanity

eWEEK DATA POINTS: In its “IT Industry Outlook 2019” report, CompTIA identifies the key developments to impact organizations as we continue to explore what’s possible in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

IT industry outlook

Things are looking good for tech workers: The global IT industry will grow in value by at least 4 percent to $5 trillion—with an upside of 6.4 percent—over the next year. Emerging tech alone is expected to more than double over the next several years, accounting for a $1.4 trillion market by 2022. In 2018, there were 250,000 IT job openings posted every month, and we should only expect this to increase in 2019.

To take a closer look at what will drive this seemingly relentless wave of innovation and optimism for the year ahead, CompTIA has published its “IT Industry Outlook 2019” report, examining trends and shifts that will significantly impact enterprises and the tech teams that support them. The trends lend insights about the latest developments in the cloud, edge computing, the internet of things (IoT), automation and robotics. In addition, they offer viable solutions to ongoing issues such as the talent shortage. They even ponder how IT can change our world—for better and worse.

In this eWEEK Data Points, we highlight the following seven trends for 2019 from the report.

Data Point No. 1: Cloud, edge and 5G form the modern economic infrastructure.

To make a successful transition in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (with the current digital revolution following the uses of water and steam power for mechanical production and our railroads; the generation of electrical power to support mass, factory production; and the early tech developments that brought us the personal computer and internet), organizations are building upon three pillars: cloud computing for greater flexibility and control over IT activities; edge computing to extend cloud principles from a central location to places where data is captured, such as devices; and 5G networks to establish fast, dynamic connections between nodes.

Data Point No. 2: IoT and AI open new possibilities in ambient computing.

Thanks to the internet of things (IoT), every single object on Earth has the potential to be a computer. With artificial intelligence (AI), we automate tasks to reduce complexities and understand context. Combine the both, and we arrive at ambient computing, in which an endless array of processes “start themselves” and otherwise operate on their own—like smart lighting—to minimize user interaction.

Data Point No. 3: Stackable technologies supercharge digitization efforts.

 “Stackable technology” is a relatively simple concept, really, referring to the ability to piece together (or stack) technology components to reach an end goal. Sales and marketing departments do this, for example, when they combine mobile pay, augmented reality (AR) and virtual agents to create an engaging, seamless customer experience (CX). CIOs and their teams, however, could find that all of this may get somewhat complicated, as they attempt to connect all of the stacking dots across a vast range of existing and emerging tech.

Data Point No. 4: Partnerships bridge gaps in the new tech ecosystem.

Older infrastructure companies are struggling with skills gaps for software needs, while newer software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses frequently lack hardware, networking and security know-how. Partnerships enable these players to address the shortcomings without hiring new staffs or learning new disciplines. In fact, nearly two-thirds of infrastructure firms reported partnering within the last year with a SaaS company, independent software vendor or vertical industry app specialist. In the process, they’re benefiting from expanded business opportunities while shrinking the talent gap.

Data Point No. 5: Persistent tech worker shortages fuel new, creative solutions.

The U.S. unemployment rate for IT occupations now amounts to less than one-half of the overall national unemployment rate. Frankly, it’s gotten brutal to find qualified talent, especially in emerging fields related to data analytics, app development, etc. That’s why industry leaders like Apple, Google and IBM are no longer requiring four-year college degrees for certain open positions, investing in self-learning, community college courses, IT certifications, knowledge-sharing and on-the-job training to bring promising recruits up-to-speed.

Data Point No. 6: Digital-human models begin to shape the workplace of tomorrow.

This is a more businesslike way of saying, “Robots are taking over the universe!” But there’s no need to panic, actually. True, automation and robotics will displace a certain kind of worker. But, in a broader sense, we can expect humans and machines to work collaboratively as teams, in both deploying intelligent tech to take over mundane tasks while expanding the possibilities of high-level functions such as predictive modeling.

Data Point No. 7: Technology professionals take the lead in anticipating, well, bad things happening.

More than ever, we are confronted with the potential societal—and even ethical—outcomes of technology. Hardware choices, after all, aren’t just about productivity and cost—they’re about environmental impact. Data management extends beyond simply analytics to pose complex questions about privacy and transparency. Traditionally, CIOs have pondered these issues. But expect everyday IT pros to also increasingly contribute to discussions about unintended consequences and how to address them.