Management > CIO

2016 Tech Trends for IT Leaders

Published 05 January 2016

BCS president for 2015/16 Jos Creese looks ahead to 2016's tech trends and predicts more IT spending with 'digital' becoming a board level issue will be matched by greater expectations

With growing demands for digital solutions, internally and externally, there's going to be a lot more money invested in IT this year in most organisations. But the increased spend going to come with more strings attached for CIOs who will be challenged to show value for money from IT budgets, beyond traditional measures of SLAs and IT unit cost benchmarking.


'Digital' is here to stay - for a few more years at least. CEOs in every sector say that their IT is not keeping pace with business demands. That is why they appoint CDOs, Transformation Directors and Change Managers, rather than simply asking their CIO to do the job. IT leaders who fail to understand this and the surrounding politics, will face a rocky ride in 2016.

Any organisation moving to a digital model will see tough decisions needed around business restructuring, headcount reductions and more effective customer interaction. CEOs want accurate and timely dashboards of business data to take decisions and judge performance. This makes 'digital' a board level issue for 2016.

But 'going digital' is not going to mean the death knell of traditional ways of delivering services. Although internet shopping continues to break all records, our shops are still busy. We are tending to shop in-store more for pleasure - social interaction, a fun experience and chance to try-before-buy. Retailers need to latch onto this trend in 2016 and bring new IT experiences into the high street.

IT Supply Chain Disruption and Sourcing

During 2015 we saw tension in the IT supply chain. Cloud has now taken off, big suppliers are changing business models to compete with the new entrants, small IT solutions are exploding in the corporate environment and traditional outsourcing methods are failing. In 2016 we can expect to see consolidation of core IT systems, but with a diversity of secondary and smaller systems, plus more judicious use of external services such as outsourcing, consultants and contractors.

CIOs will need more sophisticated IT supply chain management tools to handle portfolio change. Suppliers will also need to adapt; traditional contract models risk losing business and there will be battles with accountants and lawyers as clients demand more flexibility.

Legacy IT

Dealing with 'legacy IT' will be increasingly ruthless. With the lure of a new generation of mobile apps and tools delivering tangible business value in terms of productivity and customer engagement, the appetite for risk is growing and this will sweep away outdated ways of working entrenched in legacy IT.

The Customer is King (again)

Digital services give us greater choice and freedom. But at a cost - loss of privacy and anonymity, needing to navigate complex service support, annoying pop up ads, complex security and lots of irritating little things that track us. 2016 will see the start of a trend towards simplifying things from the customer perspective for competitive advantage and for improved efficiency.

It's all about the Data, Data, Data

We all know the value of data and information - but 2016 will create new pressures from 'big data' data 'on the move', customer analytics, privacy and digital marketing. We neither use data effectively at present, nor do we protect it well enough, judging by the high profile security breaches in 2015.

It's a pretty confident prediction that there will be more high-profile data breaches in 2016 and abuse of personal data will come to light. Whilst people are tolerant of privacy risk and accept being tracked up to a point to receive better services, they will become angry and risk averse as soon as they, their families or their friends suffer from the consequences of privacy breaches. 2016 will see much more emphasis on information management, data handling and security.

So what about the Technology Itself?

Here are a few technology predictions for 2016 (and one of them is that we will NOT all have 3-D printers in the home - ever!):

- ' Just in time' manufacture will begin to link deeply with services like Amazon. This will apply to food provision, as much as clothes and consumables, giving a personal product design service.
- Wearable IT will increase, as expected. The cumbersome, battery-hungry, water-intolerant smart watches will improve, get cheaper and more stylish.
- Social Media will mainstream as a business tool, with email use shrinking or plateauing for the first time, at least for internal communications.
- By next Christmas we will see the next generation of Tamagotchi and Furbys . I don't know what it will be, but the toy industry is still playing catch up with IT potential.
- Business and governments will adopt open IT architectures to share data and systems, enabling more cloud adoption without creating complex support or security risk.
- The focus of the mobile device industry will be less about device design automated features - identification and ID protection for example - and of course battery life.
- 4-G will penetrate more deeply across the UK, but the failure of UK mobile and broadband to reach large swathes of the UK will increasingly be a barrier to business.
- Virtual reality will become mainstream - not just for gaming, but kitchen design companies, house builders, museums, travel agents and schools will start to use next generation VR.
- High-tech Health - both personal health monitors and technology used in our health centres and hospitals, will grow with a wealth of new technology solutions from smaller providers and new ambitious government programmes.
- Lightweight cryptography and new, intuitive, stronger yet simpler security tools will emerge in 2016 in response to growing risks holding back mobile services in particular.
- Rise of the Machines : We can expect to see much greater automation of content and repurposing of data for natural language consumption. More of us will be working for machines without knowing it, as priorities and daily work schedules are determined and monitored by machines.
- ' Things' will become customers - devices and embedded technology, from wearables to chips in cars and objects will all act on our behalf and will need to be services and support. IoT will lead to a whole new IT strategy and architecture for many organisations.

Jos Creese is BCS president 2025/16 and CEO of CCL

(Jos has written a long version of his article here )

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