What’s in store for tech in 2017

A look ahead at IT security, hiring, business transformation, IoT and more

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Top tech predictions for 2017

It's the time of year for tech predictions. We've rounded up a slew of ideas from industry watchers who track IT budgets, cybersecurity, hiring, infrastructure management, IoT, virtual reality and more. Here are their predictions, projections and prognostications.

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IT spending set to rise 2.9%

Growth in software and IT services revenue will drive an increase in worldwide IT spending, which Gartner forecasts will climb 2.9% to $3.5 trillion in 2017. Software spending is projected to grow 6% in 2016, and it will grow another 7.2% in 2017 to total $357 billion, according to Gartner. IT services spending, which is on pace to grow 3.9% in 2016, will increase 4.8% in 2017 to reach $943 billion.

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IT salaries on the rise

IT workers can expect slightly bigger pay bumps than many other professionals will be getting in 2017. Across all fields, U.S. starting salaries for professional occupations are projected to increase 3.6% in 2017, according to recruiting and staffing specialist Robert Half Technology. The largest gains will occur in tech – where starting salaries for newly hired IT workers are forecast to climb 3.8%.

See: Tech jobs that will get you the biggest raise next year

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Memory-resident malware

Kaspersky Lab expects to see a rise in ephemeral infections, which consist of malware that resides in memory and is intended for general reconnaissance and credential collection. This type of malware has no interest in persistence, the security firm explains.

"In highly sensitive environments, stealthy attackers may be satisfied to operate until a reboot wipes their infection from memory if it means avoiding all suspicion or potential operational loss from the discovery of their malware by defenders and researchers. Ephemeral infections will highlight the need for proactive and sophisticated heuristics in advanced anti-malware solutions,” writes Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade, senior security expert with Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team.

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IoT complexity

The allure of IoT is strong, but technologies and use cases for the IoT vary wildly, and the vendor landscape is rapidly changing, warns research and advisory firm Forrester. Adding to the hurdles IT teams face is the demand for IoT skills. Networking know-how, in particular, will be a challenge, Forrester warns, as the array of wireless technologies and protocols required to support IoT field deployments multiplies beyond familiar Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular connections.

“Small bursty traffic, dense sets of connections, or long distances require new forms of wireless connections, such as LoRaWAN, Sigfox, or 3GPP’s narrowband (NB)-IoT,” Forrester writes in its report, Predictions 2017: Security And Skills Will Temper Growth Of IoT. “In 2017, teams will search through more than 20 wireless connectivity choices and protocols to support a company’s diverse set of IoT devices.”

See: Skills deficit hampers IoT growth in 2017

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Bye to bimodal IT?

In a bimodal approach to IT, teams pursue two different styles of work: one group is more practical and moves more slowly, focused on improving existing systems; and one group works faster and is more innovative, focused on experimental initiatives.

The result is disconnected islands of technology, asserts IDC. “As ‘fast IT’ cranks out applications and products, shortcuts are taken and solutions that are architecturally unsound, brittle, and poorly coded are ultimately handed to ‘slow IT,’ which becomes mired in fixing problems, rendering it even slower. Over time, IT organizations spend an increasing percentage of budget on technical debt, reducing their ability to service more critical and pressing needs of the business. As a business problem, technical debt needs a business solution in the form of governance that makes formal trade-offs between ‘the need for speed’ and the need for robustness and reliability,” IDC writes in its report, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2017 Predictions (document US41845916).

See: Speed to drive CIO agenda in 2017

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Rise of SD-WANs

There are more than 2,000 commercial SD-WAN paying customers today. More than 50,000 branches are deployed based on a single SD-WAN product. Gartner expects that by 2020, SD-WAN sales will be worth $1.24 billion, representing a 15% compound annual rise. At the same time, router sales are expected to drop by 23 percent, and branch office router sales by more than 60 percent by 2020, as 50 percent of all enterprise routers are replaced by SD-WAN.

See: Gartner predicts SD-WANs to replace routers, but which SD-WAN is the question

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Augmented reality

Gartner predicts that the popularity of augmented reality applications such as Pokémon GO will help bring AR into the mainstream and entice more retailers to incorporate it into the shopping experience.

"As mobile device usage becomes an ingrained behavior, further blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds, brands and their retail partners will need to develop mechanisms to leverage this behavior to enhance the shopping experience," Gartner writes. "Using AR applications to layer digital information — text, images, video and audio — on top of the physical world, represents one such route to deeper engagement, both in-store and in other locations. For example, a consumer pointing the IKEA catalog app at a room in his home can "place" furniture where he'd like it to go. This real-world element differentiates AR apps from those offering virtual reality."

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Mobile malware

Kaspersky Lab expects to see more espionage campaigns that are targeted primarily at mobile.

“Multiple threat actors have employed mobile implants in the past, including Sofacy, RedOctober and CloudAtlas, as well as customers of HackingTeam and the suspected NSO Pegasus iOS malware suite. However, these have supplemented campaigns largely based on desktop toolkits. As adoption of desktop OSes suffers from a lack of enthusiasm, and as more of the average user’s digital life is effectively transferred to their pockets, we expect to see the rise of primarily mobile espionage campaigns. These will surely benefit from decreased attention and the difficulty of attaining forensic tools for the latest mobile operating systems,” Kaspersky Lab writes in its security bulletin, Predictions for 2017: ‘Indicators of compromise’ are dead.

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Cybersecurity risks

The risks associated with cyberattacks are getting higher.

“Broader connectivity and growing investment in digital business creates new implications for devices, data, and corporate resilience. IoT, in conjunction with cloud and BYOD, alters the fundamental ways we plan for resilience. Targeted espionage, ransomware, IP theft, denial of service, privacy breaches, and loss of customer trust all carry more weight today,” Forrester writes in its report, Predictions 2017: Cybersecurity Risks Intensify. “In 2017, we will see a Fortune 1000 company disappear — through bankruptcy, acquisition, or regulatory enforcement — because of a cyberattack.”

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Breach backlash

“Private companies that publicly disclose they’ve been victims of a cybercrime will continue to be ostracized, resulting in an increasingly adversarial relationship between the private sector and the government,” predict Miriam Wugmeister and Andrew Serwin, co-chairs of the global privacy + data security group at Morrison & Foerster.

The global law firm also predicts an increase in privacy laws that aim to keep data in country: “Expect more data localization laws following recent developments such as the first enforcement of Russia’s data localization law being upheld by Russian courts, and China recently passing its own data localization law. Other countries will follow in the year ahead,” the firm says.

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Career expectations

Many IT pros will be on the move next year: 37% plan to begin searching for a new employer in 2017, and 26% plan to accept a new job, according to a survey from Spiceworks. Additionally, more than half (59%) of respondents believe they’re underpaid, yet only 24% expect a salary increase from their current employer in excess of 5% in 2017, and only 12% expect a promotion. 

See: 37% of IT pros to look for new jobs in 2017

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Employees on the move

Mulitple factors are driving people’s desire for a job change, according to Spiceworks’ 2017 Tech Career Outlook. The most frequently cited reasons are: to advance my IT skills (cited by 69%); to get a more competitive salary (64%); and to work at a company that makes IT more of a priority (40%).

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Wanted: certifications and skills

The three most lucrative skills that can boost a tech pro’s salary expectations are SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server database, and Java EE/J2EE development. Job candidates with these skills can expect to see an additional 8% bump in salary in 2017, according to Robert Half Technology’s annual guide to U.S. tech salaries. Skills that will deliver a 7% salary increase are: C# development, Cisco network administration, Hadoop, LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python), LINUX/UNIX administration, .NET development, PHP development, virtualization, and Web services development. 

See: 14 hot network jobs, skills for 2017

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Monetizing data

Businesses will have many options for productizing data, but it won’t be easy to do and many enterprises will miss opportunities, warns research firm IDC.

“Despite the wishes of business leaders, businesses will struggle to succeed in creating meaningful products and revenue streams. Those that do succeed will be underpinned by solid IT strategies and data-oriented services spanning: data acquisition; transportation, transformation, and storage; analytics and dashboards; data as a product/service; and security and access control,” the firm writes in its report, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2017 Predictions. Among the guidance IDC offers is a suggestion that IT leaders “set up an innovation team consisting of IT and business personnel that reviews existing and future applications/systems for possible monetization of resulting data.”

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Start-up culture

Taking inspiration from how start-ups operate can help CIOs who are struggling to keep up with rapidly shifting technologies and business needs and can help energize the IT department, says research firm IDC.

“Some practices and attributes that are ‘ripe for picking’ [from start-ups] are: building an entrepreneurial culture; adopting agile/DevOps, not just for software but across the organization; creating systems based on modular architectures using cloud, mobile, APIs, and microservices; and building frameworks that leverage big data and cognitive computing to support new business and operating models including multisided, platform, and on demand,” IDC writes in its report, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2017 Predictions.

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Cyber warfare escalates

"We have seen cyber-attacks range from disrupting power grids to Stuxnet. 2017 will see the first large scale attack by a nation, against another sovereign nation, and be acknowledged as an attack and the techniques used considered as weapons (albeit software, malware, vulnerabilities, and exploits)," predicts BeyondTrust security experts Brad Hibbert, Morey Haber, Scott Carlson and Rod Simmons.

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Target: power users

“Prevention is dead. It’s all about privilege—hackers want high level access, which they get through targeting credentials of privileged users like IT professionals, CEOs and vendors. Organizations have applied security to the systems, applications, and data that are most critical to their business. In 2017, they’ll get serious about security around their most privileged users—identifying them, monitoring their access, and closing off access to what they don’t need,” says Matt Dircks, CEO of security provider Bomgar.