Enterprise tech movers for 2017

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21 December 2016 | 0

If you thought you had your hands full as an IT pro, just wait until blockchain, IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and these other technologies, really start to take hold in 2017.

The Internet of Things — no, really
Yes, yes, we know — it’s one of those long-standing tech industry jokes, like “the year of the Linux desktop” and “Java security.” But 2017 really could be the year that all the hub-bub and hype around the Internet of Things comes home to roost.

The basic concept of connected devices — broadly, things that have not historically been connected to the Internet suddenly being connected to the internet — is nothing new. The uses to which the technology is now being put, however — smart cars, smart homes, and dramatically simplified industrial management — are potentially ground-breaking in a very “the future is here” sense.

The main problem is security, as it has been since people started thinking about IoT as a concept. There are not many commonly accepted standards for IoT devices — though there is no lack of candidates — and vendors do not seem to work as hard to make connected devices secure as they do on more traditional endpoints, like laptops and smart phones.

That has big implications for security. Even if a hacked IoT device doesn’t represent much of a threat on its own, it’s simple enough to incorporate it into a vast botnet, which is exactly what the attackers behind the Mirai botnet have been up to lately, exploiting DVRs, surveillance cameras and other poorly secured IoT devices and making them into a zombie army able to hamstring internet access across the US by attacking domain registration service provider Dyn.

It is a big challenge, according to analyst and Network World contributor Zeus Kerravala.

“[IoT security] requires strengthened network access controls, including real-time application control and visibility, IoT-supported, secure-authentication methods such as PPSK, granular device policy enforcement at the edge, and centralised reporting and monitoring tools,” he said, in commenting on a new IoT security offering from Aerohive Networks.

Forrester Research thinks more than half a million IoT devices will be compromised in 2017, which underlines the extreme importance of security. One way or another, IoT will shake up computing in 2017 — either as a key underpinning of a host of new technologies, or the venue for further devastating cyberattacks.

AR and VR will take off
When the iPad was introduced in 2010, rarely would you see them in the wild—never mind being used for business. Now, iPads and tablets are everywhere. Their use exploded.

Prepare for the same thing to happen with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) — with tablets and smart phones as the vehicle. According to IDC, 25% of enterprise IT organisations will be testing augmented reality business applications for use on smart phones by the end of 2017.

“This may sound relatively aggressive, but the conversations I’m having with the industry and some surveys that we’ve run talking to IT decision makers show that there’s a really strong interest around augmented reality,” said Tom Mainelli, program vice president of the devices & AR/VR group at IDC, during a recent webinar, IDC Futurescape: Worldwide Wearables and AR/VR 2017 Predictions.

The end game is head-worn AR hardware, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, he said. But for a lot of enterprises, they are going to begin creating apps and back-end processes on devices that consumers and businesses already own.

Pokémon Go gave us a taste of AR, and we have seen retailers using AR technology. Walgreens and Toys R Us use an app called Aisle411 that guides customers to products with the store. North Face provides 360-degree videos of outdoor experiences using Oculus Rift in which the actors wear North Face clothing. Audi has a virtual experience that allows you to take virtual test drive and to virtually see features and options on their cars. And Ashley Furniture will soon have an AR app that helps shoppers see how home furnishings fit into an existing space.

As smart phone technology improves, we will see much better AR experiences, Mainelli said. The first product working toward that is the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which is based on Google’s Tango technology. It uses three cameras and multiple sensors to see where it is and capture a wide range of measurements to create an enhanced AR experience, he said.

Other AR and VR predictions from IDC:

  • In 2017, retail industry spending on AR/VR hardware, software and services will increase by 145% to more than $1 billion (€962 million).
  • Three out of 10 consumer-facing Fortune 5000 companies will experiment with AR or VR as part of their marketing efforts in 2017.
  • By 2019, 10% of all web-based meetings will include an AR component driving disruption of the $3 billion (€2.89 billion) web conferencing market.
  • “I really believe augmented reality is going to have the same type of impact on businesses as the PC did all those years ago,” Mainelli said. “And once developers start to figure out what they can do with this technology, business is going to change pretty dramatically … Eventually we will end up at a place where augmented reality really is the new way that we interface with devices, digital content, physical objects and with data.”

Triple A protection coming to world of cybersecurity
It may be a brave new world in 2017 but it is also a damn scary one for IT security professionals. Just take a look at some recent Gartner assessments of the security situation:

  • By 2020, 60% of digital businesses will suffer major service failures, due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk.
  • By 2020, 60% of enterprise information security budgets will be allocated for rapid detection and response approaches, which is an increase from less than 30% in 2016.
  • By 2018, 25% of corporate data traffic will flow directly from mobile devices to the cloud, bypassing enterprise security controls.
  • Through 2018, over 50% of IoT device manufacturers will not be able to address threats because of weak authentication practices.

So what technologies are going to change this scenario back in favour of IT? The new security AAA — automation, analytics and artificial intelligence — say proponents.

When it comes to automation, security platforms will devise and execute controls based on newly detected threats and do it without human intervention. That reduces the time between a compromise and the time the threat is neutralised — reducing the window during which attackers can do damage.

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