From 2013 Trend to 2014 Workplace Reality
Every year brings plenty of hype around the promise of what new technical advancements and capabilities can bring to organizations trying to transform their businesses. There are also plenty of things that never quite live up to the promised hype. Let’s take a look at what to expect in 2014.

BYOD evolves to BYOC and BYOA

One trend that hit hard in 2013 was Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Whether companies wanted to embrace it or not, they were hit by a storm of user-owned mobile hardware entering their enterprise networks. For 2014, expect this to continue as users now leverage their devices for other needs such as Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) and Bring Your Own Application (BYOA).

Cloud access will bring a host of applications such as cloud storage and file sharing capabilities services such as Box, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, etc. The ability to have seemingly endless capacity easily shared and syndicated across desktop, tablet and mobile devices is tremendously powerful for the mobile worker.

BYOA extends the IT consumerization model by bringing the personal app paradigm to the enterprise. Organizations can either embrace off-the-shelf mobile apps or build custom mobile apps that tailor features and functionality to specific business needs. Whichever approach is adapted, you can expect to see the Enterprise App Store begin to go mainstream as the preferred distribution model for enterprise mobile apps.

Big Data Grows Up

Most enterprises still have much of their information in proprietary formats locked away in internal databases that get analyzed in reports for management. Despite a majority of information originating externally (such as social and sensory data), much of the focus is still on processing data within the enterprise.

In 2013, this external “big” data was still not effectively integrated into core information systems to drive additional insights. 2014 will be the year companies more effectively integrate Big Data into their core platforms. They will have to as the volume of data continues to grow.

The Internet of Things Enables Sensor-Driven Business Models

2013 touted the “Internet of Things” where every mundane possession becomes instrumented and connected to the Internet by either embedding RFID tags or sensors. However, much of this did little to impact organizational effectiveness and enhance decision making.

The emergence of “smart machines” and embedded sensors will bring new contextual awareness to computing, enabling sensor-driven business models. These sensors will allow better tracking of behavior and movements of product and interactions with those products, allowing business models to be fine-tuned based on this behavioral data.

Sensors will also enhance situational awareness as they are deployed into infrastructures (such as railways, airplanes, cars, buildings, etc.) or environments (such as roadways, oceans, atmosphere, etc.) to further predict and correlate events. Complex, real time sensing of adverse conditions and guided automated responses that mimic human reactions but in a more enhanced and predictable fashion. For example, the automotive industry is rapidly developing systems that can detect collisions or other hazardous situations and take evasive actions.

Internally, enterprises can expect this to affect process optimizations as sensors bring better granularity and more data to analyze, to adjust and optimize business processes. Network and automated feedback systems can better monitor load and usage patterns which in turn can allow for smarter resource planning and allocations and also enable dynamic pricing algorithms.

Towards the end of 2014, you can expect the cost of sensors to begin to fall to levels that will spark more widespread uses. Big data tools and applications will mature to the point where huge volumes of data can be absorbed, synthesized and integrated into systems for smarter and faster decision making.

Mobile Truly Becomes the Remote Control of Your Life

Let’s face it, your smartphone has already become the center of your universe. The average smartphone is already brimming with sensors such as an accelerometer, compass, GPS, altimeter, lights, sounds, etc. It’s the premiere device for capturing your multi-media experiences, interfacing with social networks, guiding navigation, monitoring your health and physical activity, tracking your velocity in travel, monitoring weather conditions and numerous other things never imagined by it’s inventors.

Smartphones are now acting as wireless hubs and control points for our houses, automobiles and offices. 2014 will further evolve this and bring more connections to your “physical graph” (i.e. your personal things) with more innovations like SmartThings enabling closer connections that bring your physical world closer to your virtual world. This will also begin to extend to office environments and public infrastructures.

The Web Becomes the World’s Data Center

With the continued maturity and reliability of cloud service and infrastructure providers such as Amazon, Salesforce.com, Google and IBM, the contours of how and where IT services can be delivered is ever expanding. The sheer size and scale that these companies now provide is making it easier and faster to deploy applications; much faster than traditional enterprise IT environments. Gartner defines this as “web-scale IT.”

In 2014, you can expect more organizations to begin to leverage these virtual infrastructures, especially around “systems of innovation,” where companies want to quickly develop and launch new products and have elastic scale as required.

There is no doubt 2014 will be an exciting year as many of these trends take root. IT leaders will need to embrace these trends if they wish to remain competitive in the millennial era.

Title image by 4Max (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from Frank in State of the Union for Employee Engagement: Are Your Employees Engaged?