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The State of Information Technology in 2020 

The world economy is in flux, which impacts IT spending, the job market and the careers of IT professionals globally. Political, macroeconomic and technological factors — including Brexit, tariffs and trade wars between the U.S. and China — are causing market volatility and increased caution in spending. As business planners weigh their IT budget decisions carefully, technology professionals can improve their job stability by understanding the coming trends in IT investments and participating in strategic training to keep up.  

Slow growth is still growth 

According to the United Nations, world gross domestic product (GDP) growth declined sharply over 2019 to 2.7 percent, down from 3.0 percent in 2018. While market declines tend to result in weak confidence, many of the issues faced globally are temporary in nature. The UN forecasts that global GDP will recover and increase over 2020 to 2.9 percent. 

Business leaders have compelling reasons to be judicious in spending as we enter 2020. However, caution doesn’t mean inaction. Even with Gartner’s prediction of a modest 3.7-percent year-over-year growth throughout 2020, that still means a global IT spend of $3.8 trillion. 

Top technologies targeted for 2020 IT spending 

As business leaders plan for the coming year, they will be keeping an eye on the global markets. While there is no current anticipation of an economic downturn, business leaders will look toward technology solutions that can best support their companies in the event of a recession. Businesses will look to cloud solutions, operational expense models and new technologies that improve business agility.   

IDC’s ICT spending forecast indicates that spending on traditional technologies will focus on cloud, mobile, social and big data/analytics. Businesses will hold back on hardware purchases, opting instead for as-a-service delivery models and cloud architectures that provide ongoing budget flexibility. Emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, alternate reality/virtual reality and next-generation security solutions will see the most significant growth2. With their ability to quickly modernize business practices and drive efficiency and quality into product and application delivery, these solutions promise higher returns on investment. 

The following technology solutions are projected to take the lead in budget allotment through 2020 and beyond.  

1. Cloud containerization 

DevOps and continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) have revolutionized the way software is developed, tested and released. They take the idea of agile development and add automation and cross-functional integration, greatly accelerating feature release while improving quality. Cloud containerization adds yet another layer of agility to software development practices and provides additional flexibility due to its true write-once, run-anywhere capabilities. Technologies like Docker and Kubernetes represent a relatively low investment for businesses as well as the potential for significant returns. Software developers in any industry benefit greatly from training and certification in cloud development practices, DevOps, CI/CD, cloud containerization , Docker and Kubernetes. 

2. Multi-cloud architectures 

As businesses scale workloads to the cloud, business leaders find that there’s no one-size-fits-all cloud solution. Multi-cloud architectures increase data center complexity, but they also provide best-fit functionality across business units.  

  • Private cloud solutions like IBM Cloud Services or HPE Helion offer enhanced control; 
  • Specialty cloud solutions such as Oracle Procurement Cloud fast-track specific use cases; and  
  • Public cloud solutions like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure provide extreme functional and budget flexibility.  
  • Cloud architects and engineers who want to succeed in 2020 and beyond will benefit significantly from multi-cloud training.  

3. Artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning 

Machines that complete busy work for businesses are economically sound investments that can keep businesses moving through economic downturns. As computers become smarter, they can solve more complex business problems and perform intricate functions in a fraction of the time it takes a team of workers. AI, robotics and machine learning (ML) systems provide differentiating self-service capabilities to customers, answer customer support questions, accelerate manufacturing, revolutionize medicine and even provide input into strategic decision making for business leaders. But these systems can’t accomplish their futuristic tasks on their own. They need a team of highly trained, specialized analysts, operations staff and engineers who can continually train, improve and build upon AI systems as they are rolled out. Training in AI, robotics or ML can open doors to an exciting field that’s accelerating in adoption throughout nearly every industry. 

4. Cybersecurity 

As the internet continues to connect us globally, and people rely more on their computers, smartphones and IoT devices, the need for cybersecurity increases exponentially. Large-scale cyber attacks cost consumers and businesses billions of dollars annually. In 2019, the average total cost of a single data breach in America was $8.19 million.  

Cybersecurity Ventures projects that global cybersecurity spending will exceed $1 trillion through 20214. Training in security services, infrastructure protection and network security technologies can provide a strong foundation for an IT career that will be in high demand throughout the coming decade. 

5. Big data and analytics 

Though it’s impossible to quantify precisely, experts estimate the world is already at 40 trillion gigabytes of cumulative data, and individuals continue to produce roughly 1.7 megabytes per second5. Big data and analytics power everything from medical breakthroughs to strategic marketing. The storage, control, analysis and visualization of big data is a rapidly growing field that offers opportunities so significant that some businesses are introducing entire organizational structures dedicated to data analytics. From the Chief Data Officer to the junior analyst and every position in between, these business units are tasked with delivering a data-driven future for their companies. Fields of study in data literacy and application include SLQ and Hadoop programming and database management, data modeling tools and strategies, data-driven business applications, AI, ML and logicanalytics and more.  

6. Everything-as-a-Service 

The data center of 2020 will continue to evolve on top of the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) model. Operations teams are challenged with learning, embracing and rolling out software-defined solutions, including CPU, GPU, network and memory. Productivity and business software solutions powered by the cloud, such as Office 365, have gone mainstream in businesses of all sizes. Operations teams and engineers will need to fully understand XaaS and embrace virtualized environments to keep up with the continued trends. 

Shifting IT budget responsibilities 

 Over the last several years, IT leaders have warned against the rise of shadow IT. Line-of-business (LOB) leaders purchase software for departmental use, individual employees use personal cell phones for business purposes and work is accomplished on portable devices. These practices can pose security risks and introduce unnecessary operational complexity with overlaps in business functionality. For many years, management teams have struggled to contain the spread of shadow IT by enacting policies, enforcing budget approval processes and using dedicated cybersecurity tools to detect and remove unapproved software and device connections. 

However, 2019 saw a shift away from the fight against shadow IT. Allowing business leaders some flexibility in spending can accelerate time to market and improve business efficiency; thus, “business-managed” IT budgets became more commonplace over the past year1. Additionally, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices are on the rise, especially for small to medium businesses. Companies favoring BYOD policies save an average of $350 per year, per employee, and the use of personal portable devices saves employees an average of 58 minutes per day, increasing productivity by 34 percent. 

While business-managed IT provides flexibility and speed, LOB leaders aren’t always equipped to make informed purchase decisions on their own. Instead, they often rely on their team members to provide input into the evaluation and purchase process. By learning more about the systems and devices that will be used by specific lines of business going forward, individual IT professionals can seek training and position themselves as self-starting leaders within their organizations. With the right courses, individual contributors can quickly become trusted advisors to the LOB leadership teams, offering deep insight into purchase decisions, and becoming instrumental in successful technology rollouts. 

 5G – A journey into the unknown 

Two thirds of large enterprises plan to roll out 5G technology by 20217. 5G technology is expected to overcome many of the limitations of 4G, including efficiency, scalability and security. With its capability to increase the number of connected devices by tenfold in the next year to 50 billion, this peak-performance technology is the future of networking. By connecting billions of IoT devices, 5G will offer real-time information for emergency services, governments and medical facilities, and will power everything from smart cities to data-driven homes to personal medical devices.  

This new advance in network technology stands to revolutionize nearly every industry, yet there are very few engineers who truly understand the full potential of 5G applications. Training in 5G can provide opportunities well beyond networking, including medical technology, industry 4.0, data analytics, mobile banking and more.  

Implications of a growing gig economy 

 With the introduction of the gig economy, businesses are exploring employment models that provide gig workers with flexible contracts. These arrangements offer budget agility for businesses and allow workers to achieve high levels of work-life balance. As the gig workforce grows, these workers will benefit from training in a variety of in-demand technology solutions. Temporary contracts allow certified specialists to augment in-house staff during extensive development and deployment projects, fill in for workers who are out on leave or bolster workforces in times of high demand.  

While gig workers are ultimately responsible for their professional development, the freelance life lends itself to regular training. By incorporating training into their schedules, contract workers can continually enhance their skills, gain new certifications and keep ahead of the technology trends that help them secure contracts. 

The training investment trend 

Gartner research found that 75 percent of organizations are experiencing increasing business disruptions due to technology skills gaps. As technology continues advancing at unprecedented rates, business leaders recognize the value and necessity of ongoing training to close skills gaps before they impact productivity. Moving into and beyond 2020, corporate leadership will embrace learning and development strategies that encourage creativity, innovation and knowledge expansion. Employees will be encouraged to learn the latest technologies, study up on soft skills and deepen their technical expertise with certifications. 

Training for 2020 and beyond 

 If there’s one constant trend in IT, it’s change. Despite global economic factors and shifting political climates, technology innovation continues advancing at blinding speeds. With the right training, you can keep up with the latest developments in your field, or embrace leading-edge technology advances to reinvent your career. With over 9,500 classes across a broad spectrum of technology topics, including data science, containerized development, cloud computing, business intelligence, cybersecurity and more, ExitCertified offers IT training that helps professionals and businesses embrace change.  

ExitCertified is an industry-recognized leader in vendor-approved training and certifications, offering flexible learning options you can complete in person or online. And ExitCertified is the only training vendor to offer iMVP® — an interactive online system that puts you in the classroom for a connected, instructor-led learning experience from the comfort of your home or office. 


Ready to embrace the trends of 2020 and beyond? 
See what training courses align with your goals for the future and get started with IT training from ExitCertified. 


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