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CIO - The holiday season is a great time to look back at the year, with an eye toward what we in the ever-changing world of information technology can expect in 2014. These three trends warrant your close attention in the new year.
In Light of NSA Revelations, companies Will Be Wary of the Cloud
For most businesses, 2013 was the year of the cloud. Companies that still hosted their email in house would in large part move that expense and aggravation to someone else. Microsoft SharePoint and other knowledge management solutions could be run in someone else's datacenter, using someone else's resources and time to administer, thus freeing your own people to improve other services or, gasp, work directly on enhancing the business.
But then Edward Snowden came around in June and started to release a series of damning leaks about the United States National Security Agency's capability to eavesdrop on communications. At first, most folks weren't terribly alarmed. But as the year wore on, the depth of the NSA's alleged capabilities to tap into communications - both with and without service provider knowledge - started to shake the faith of many CIOs in the risk/benefit tradeoff for moving to cloud services.
For companies in heavily regulated industries, it's hard to ignore the continued discovery of the depths to which the NSA has the capability to read data both in transit and at rest. Patient privacy records, sensitive financial transactions and any other data that must by law be kept private - is it now considered private? Can you warrant that to your customers? Can you warrant that to your regulators? Can you afford the risk that NSA access to your data represents? Is it even something that you can control, or do you just ignore it and hope for the best? (That is said with no judgment; given the realities of your business, that could very well be a valid strategy.)
In 2014, we'll see a continued analysis of just what services make sense in the cloud, but some old cherished low-hanging fruit, like email and collaboration, will no longer be considered "easy wins" because of these continuing allegations. Perhaps the cloud will not be the default choice going forward but, rather, a choice made after careful study of the environment, using these PRISM leaks as one important bit of context.
Microsoft's CEO Search Will Define the Future of Their Products in Your Organization
The biggest story of the first part of 2014 will undoubtedly be Microsofts selection for only its third CEO in its history. This job is one of the most important positions in the technology industry; who is selected, and what he or she does in her first 100 days, will set the tone for the next five to 10 years.
Reports as of the Monday morning after Thanksgiving 2013 suggest that the Microsoft board of directors has narrowed its potential selections to two: Satya Nadella, the current chief of servers and tooling at the company, and outsider Alan Mulally, who currently is in charge of the Ford Motor Company and is widely credited for executing a fantastic turnaround of operations, profits, and shareholder return after joining the company from Boeing, a corporate neighbor of Microsoft. ( Mulally denies he's interested in the Microsoft job, only heightening speculation.)