What's in store for enterprises in 2013

It’s that time of year again when most in the ICT space start to indulge in a spot of crystal ball gazing. But is 2013 really going to be all that different from 2012?

It’s that time of year again when most of the heavy hitters in the ICT space start to indulge in a spot of crystal ball gazing and divinate what lies in the year ahead. But is 2013 really going to be all that different from 2012?

Verizon's ANZ vice president John Karabin certainly thinks so as stronger network connections will see the trends come together to form one giant wave of disruption. 

According to Karabin, 2013 is going to be the year of accelerated adoption as organisations move to meet the demands of their employees, foster more productive outcomes and most importantly, create compelling experiences for consumers.

With that in mind, here are the top five trends on Verizon’s radar.

 1. Louder machine to machine chatter

With the “Internet of things’ finally here to stay the interconnected web of machines talking to each other is only getting bigger. What that means is that the technology that has only recently moved past a nascent stage is now ready for prime time.

According to Karabin, machine to machine connections (or M2M connections) will increasingly serve as a key cornerstone in improving existing services.

For instance, imagine a car that automatically communicates with a repair shop when it’s broken down, or a health care operating system that reacts to your vitals. Such examples of M2M communication are no longer consigned to the realm of science fiction but a reality. With the health care, energy and automotive sectors already making use of M2M, Karabin expects the trend to now make its presence felt in the financial services, retail and manufacturing sectors.

He adds that the trend will also feed into areas like automation and Big Data, with improved M2M technology allowing machines to do more sophisticated tasks without the need for a human intervention and the interactions producing a data trail which can be analysed for insight.

2. Moving to the “hybrid cloud”

While embrace the “Cloud’ may have been a key message in the years past, 2013 will be the year to move up the maturity curve for most organisations. According to Verizon, cloud adoption will be compulsory in 2013 and companies also need to start wrapping their heads around the idea of the hybrid cloud - a service that combines both public and private cloud offerings.

Jumping on the cloud is a no-brainer as far as Karabin is concerned and by 2013 companies that can’t switch workloads between public and private clouds won’t be competitive.

Firstly, it can help reduce costs. Karabin illustrates this point by adding that many Australian enterprises have often saved money investing in cloud based accounting software, rather than having to fork out for servers and data storage space for their non-cloud based system.

Secondly, it can allow businesses to expand quickly and can open up opportunities in larger overseas markets. Cloud allows companies who have a competitive niche in Australia to easily expand overseas, Karabin says. He adds that Verizon’s servers already host a multitude of Australian start-ups who are attempting to take their products overseas.

So, the religious war of public versus private clouds is irrelevant and distributed data centres coupled with the intelligent wired and mobile networks that connect them now represent a viable alternative to traditional virtual private network (VPN) methods.

Get ready for the shift from VPNs to public, private and, importantly, hybrid clouds in 2013.

3. The mobile revolution gains momentum

It’s amazing how one line from Star Trek has become the catchcry to the ongoing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to revolution. That line, in case you are wondering, is ‘resistance is futile" and Karabin says there’s no denying the sentiment. However, the reality is that most companies still continue to struggle with it well into 2013. The good news, according to Karabin, is that a combination of improving mobile, social and cyber security technologies should help tip the balance in favour of the employees.

Of course, getting there is probably going to take a substantial attitude adjustment on the part of IT departments, which look set to play a major role in meeting the growing appetite for ‘professional mobility on a personal level.’

Some of the tools that could help matters will be the adoption of ‘personal clouds’- where employees use enterprise applications over a plethora of mobile platforms - and the active use of mobile-device management and private application storefronts to provide a secure workplace.

4. ‘Self-healing’ networks

If you ever need a reminder of the importance of the internet and telecommunications in today’s age, you need only look to Warrnambool in south-western Victoria. A fire took out Telstra’s main telecommunications exchange centre, and sent the entire region into disarray. Hurricane Sandy had a similar effect – albeit on a much wider scale – across the US.

“Outages ten years ago, had less impact than they did five years ago, than they do today,” Karabin says.

As a result, network engineers are now working to make networks that harness some form of ‘self-healing’ effect when they are struck by a disaster. Networks will soon be able to detect interferences and re-route traffic to ensure that there is no disruption to access, Karabin says.

He adds that progress on such systems will differ from region to region, but a shift towards using more reliable IP based connections will occur in 2013.

5. Prepare to hear more about cyber security

Cyber security has always been a lingering issue in the IT scene and it’s never been more important than it is now. Karabin says that a number of events during 2012 (he didn’t name any, but Anonymous’ hacking of ASIO and AAPT would top the list in Australia) have raised of data breaches and other cyber-security mishaps into the public sphere, to the point where Australia’s major politicians are trying to gain political mileage out of the panic.

With the security arms race is expect to play out across the board , Karabin reckons  that many companies will begin to open up around publicly disclosing data breaches. However, he does admit that there is still debate on how much of this disclosure will be mandated by government, and how much will be disclosed willingly. It will be interesting to see whether his prediction around disclosing data breaches comes true, because Verizon is also expecting an increase in corporate data breaches in 2013.