In the modern world, technology is never stagnant. Each new innovation opens the possibilities for additional innovations. In IT, more powerful hardware allows for more powerful software. Smaller components allow the development of new products. New devices require applications developed specifically for them. During the past few years, the IT/tech world has changed substantially. Although predicting what the future holds is always a risky proposition, as 2014 draws to a close, it is only natural to try to predict what 2015 holds in store.
- Business users and consumers will continue to demand mobility. This is perhaps our safest prediction. After all, the use of mobile devices has exploded over the past few years, and there are no signs that it will slow anytime soon. Enterprise mobile app development will increase, more than doubling during 2015 although downloads for consumers may slow.
- Phablets will be the "must-have" device of 2015. These hybrids offer the "best of both worlds" -- larger screens than smartphones and better portability and functionality than tablets. As a result, sales of phablets should increase by at least 60 percent, but much of that growth will come at the expense of tablet sales, which are expected to slump.
- The Internet of Things will continue to expand. During 2015, spending on IoT is expected to top $1.7 trillion, with approximately 33 percent of the spending related to embedded or intelligent devices that fall outside of the traditional telecom or IT industries. One IoT category in particular -- predictive maintenance -- will see significant growth.
- Data will increasingly move to the cloud. Cloud service providers will expand their datacenter operations, and enterprises will increasingly choose to have data stored in the cloud. A related aspect will be an increase in the number of vendors offering data-as-a-service, with rich analytics based on big data. Companies will find new ways to use big data to help them understand their customers' needs and wants.
- Digital platforms that are industry-specific will expand rapidly. Recognizing that different industries have different requirements, more vendors will begin tailoring platforms that are driven by the demands of each industry and typically designed by industry leaders. Expect to see an increased number of platforms created for the healthcare, financial and retail industries.
- Unusual partnerships will be formed to leverage the benefits of the cloud. Hardware and software providers will team up with online retailers or social media sites in hopes of creating win/win partnerships. For example, Amazon might choose to partner with Hewlett-Packard, or Microsoft might enter into an agreement with Facebook. It is impossible to predict exactly how the partnerships will align, but it is a relatively safe bet to predict that there will be more than one major partnership announced that will raise a few eyebrows in the tech industry.
- 3D printers will continue to evolve, and their market share will expand. Conventional printing companies will embrace the new technology in greater numbers. Manufacturers who realize the potential to increase profits through "produce on demand" will explore 3D printing in greater depth, potentially driving further innovations in the hardware, software and materials.
- Virtually all growth will be tied to relatively new technologies. Telecom and IT spending is expected to exceed $3.8 trillion in 2015. Almost all of the growth and at least 33 percent of all money spent will be concentrated in areas such as big data analytics, mobility, wearable tech, cloud computing and IoT.
There is no way to guarantee that all of these predictions will come true, but based on current information, they seem highly likely. Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of working in the IT/tech world is the knowledge that there is always a major innovation lurking just around the corner. Perhaps a company has been secretly developing a new concept that will prove even more disruptive than smartphones or cloud computing -- and the announcement will not be made until January. It is within the realm of possibility that such an announcement could change the industry dramatically and render these predictions obsolete -- but although possible, it does not appear to be probable.