How Tech Professionals Can Prepare for the Future of IT

Technology is rapidly evolving - from new applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the shift from on-premises device management to developments in the network as a service (NaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) platforms, and a broader trend towards remote and hybrid workforces, the role of the IT professional in a modern enterprise is changing.

Cyber challenges grow with cloud adoption. IT professionals must safeguard systems, adapt to emerging cyber roles, and stay vigilant.
Photo: Unsplash / @sigmund

What does that mean for those who work in the industry - no matter whether you’re a graduate of a Master of Information Technology Management online in your first IT role or an experienced professional who is looking to understand how the factors that are transforming their workforce, let’s explore how these tidal forces in information technology are shifting the focus of modern IT professionals.

Going to the Cloud - the Software Shift

Gone are the days of a solely on-prem solution. Many software providers, from project management software developer Atlassian to customer and data titan Salesforce, are increasingly offering product solutions that leverage cloud platforms to provide software as a service on a client’s preferred data hosting solution. In some cases, enterprises may choose to use wholly contained system ecosystems, such as an enterprise business implementation using a combination of Microsoft’s various platforms, from their productivity suite (Office 365), data analytics capabilities (Azure Data Factory), and visualisation tools (Power BI).

This shift in software structuring is changing the way that patches are managed. Software vendors may implement whole-of-system updates on the fly, reducing the amount of downtime that may be required when taking down a physical server for maintenance. This can also present itself with risks, such as if a provider is taken down due to malicious activity. IT professionals must be mindful that this shift to cloud-based technologies can present significant risks to an organisation’s cyber preparedness.

The Rise of Remote and Hybrid Working

While there has been a shift in the way data is stored within an organisation, the physical location of assets, both human and digital, has also changed. The last two decades has seen a significant rise in the number of remote working opportunities for employees - where in the early 2000s, it would seem unlikely that an employee would be working remotely on any significant basis, most modern office roles offer a component of hybrid or remote work flexibility.

While some employers are trying to force employees into the office, it’s apparent that a new status quo is emerging - a world where employees are able to connect from remote locations, when it is sensible and feasible to do so. This change represents a whole new avenue for IT professionals to consider - where previously, they may have only been able to provide limited assistance for queries outside of the office, a modern IT team must be prepared to manage the needs of distributed networks, whether that be setting up clear safety protocols, or increased availability for those that need help when connecting remotely.

The Emergence of Generative AI

At the forefront of these technological innovations has been a systems transformation that has occurred at a rate previously last seen in the advent of social media platforms. Technologies such as generative AI, such as the media generation tool DALL-E, and general purpose platform GPT, organisations are seeking the best ways to integrate these new technologies into their workforces.

For some, generative AI represents occupational risk - in fact, a study commissioned by Microsoft found that nearly half of all survey respondents feared that they would lose their job in the development cycle of AI based solutions. While some automation solutions provide opportunities for processes to be made simpler, there’s much to be said for leveraging the power of machine learning and process automation to drive other efficiencies within an organisation, including reduced manual handling risks, and increased safety rates in high-risk industries such as automotive manufacturing.

While generative AI does have some risks, the broader realm of machine learning and artificial intelligence provides a range of opportunities for the IT professional of tomorrow to enhance their role through the efficient use of monitoring tools. For example, well structured intrusion detection and endpoint response systems can encourage smarter spending within under-resourced teams, such as cyber security, while also drawing increased monitoring and assessment outcomes, crucial for modern enterprises. For IT professionals, AI may be important, but it’s also essential that it is used wisely - after all, poorly used artificial intelligence can be potentially damaging to not only a company’s standards, but also their public data availability - just ask Samsung.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Challenges in Cyber

With a shift towards cloud technologies and remote work, it’s becoming increasingly important that system administrators and IT professionals have oversight of the traffic flowing through corporate systems. Research compiled by KPMG found that the impact of cyber attacks costs Australian businesses $29 billion annually - and is growing. That’s not to mention the impact that a cyber attack may have on business operations, whether it be business disruption, loss in productivity, or reputational damage due to poor security practices.

The role of cyber protection will unlikely stay the role of the IT professional, as new cyber-specific roles emerge to proactively identify and protect systems from threats in large businesses. In smaller enterprises, where an IT professional may have a single role in a business, programs such as the Cyber Wardens Initiative will help empower small and medium enterprises with strategies that they can use to defend their businesses and minimise security risks within their teams.

IT professionals must stay aware of current cyber trends and threats - as they remain a high value target for bad actors and hacking groups alike. While there will be no shortage of challengers in the cyber realm, they are by no means insurmountable for the well-prepared enterprise.

New Norms for IT Professionals

The new normal for IT professionals in the 2020s is a challenge that easily be underestimated. In a world where workers no longer congregate in a single facility, administrators must be able to equip their teams with the tools and platforms necessary to thrive in this brave new world. It’ll be crucial that organisations understand the benefits and challenges present in this vastly transformed world.

Understanding what structures make up an enterprise system can be essential, particularly when understanding their capabilities. The modern IT professional of tomorrow may need to wear many hats, but in reality, it’s an opportunity to showcase talent in a way that’s not only strategically meaningful, but also useful for organisations. For many, it looks to be an exciting leap forward in the world of IT.
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