As the year winds down, it’s important to reflect on which industry innovations helped improve IT efficiencies and which 2018 trends fell short.

Which IT trends boomed this year? Which ones busted? Most importantly, which IT trends deserve your time and money? These are important considerations that have the potential to make or break operations, so consider how your company can leverage these top IT trends going into next year.

Narrow Artificial Intelligence

If you have tracked emerging tech trends this year you have undoubtedly read about artificial intelligence. AI is helping to unlock new efficiencies in industries ranging from manufacturing to retail, but does artificial intelligence offer lasting ROI within IT?

That is the trillion dollar question. A report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI could create between $3.5 – $5.8 trillion in value within 19 industries — including IT.

Despite lofty AI aspirations, some say it might be preemptive to expect complete AI integration within IT at this time. Instead, industry leaders are looking to unlock process improvements incrementally by undertaking what is being called “narrow AI.” Narrow AI is the deployment of AI or machine learning initiatives within a highly controlled, specific environment. So, rather than integrating AI universally, and reinventing all IT processes, technicians are using AI to augment acute tasks.

For example, SAP’s cloud platform delivers an extensive database of information that can be leveraged by IT technicians. This AI application collects structured data from sales, customer applications, relational databases, and other sources which can be analyzed to spot trends or irregularities. This is a good example of narrow AI because it makes use of AI efficiencies, but does not hitch mission-critical processes to the developing technology.

The real-world practicality of AI will be revealed in the coming years, so for now IT managers should look to upgrade non-essential processes with AI, and test the water, before moving on to larger, more influential tasks.

Workplace Diversity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer information management positions are set to grow at a rate of 13 percent through 2026, and the IT sector as a whole will continue to flourish as new technologies increase productivity.

But, this progress is threatened by a looming, often-overlooked inhibitor: workforce stagnation. Historically, IT positions have been filled by a particular employee demographic, and it’s becoming clear that this typecasting is no longer sustainable.

The lack of diversity in IT positions has not gone unnoticed — according to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, IT has a serious diversity problem.

“Despite rapid transformation in the [IT] field, the overwhelming dominance of white men in the industries and occupations associated with technology has remained,” according to the report. “Discussion of the lack of gender, racial and ethnic diversity in the high tech industries generally divides into two themes: the “pipeline” problem — STEM occupations attracting white men — and the inhospitable culture in relevant industries and occupations forcing women and minorities to tolerate the environment or leave the field.”

The report found that marginalized groups are critically underrepresented in high tech fields. Numbers don’t lie — just look at these demographic percentages for high tech jobs in the United States:

  • Women: 35.68 percent
  • Hispanic: 7.97 percent
  • African American: 7.4 percent

This is why one of the most important IT trends isn’t a new technology but rather a cultural change. Workplace diversity is not only important for the sake of fair inclusion, but also to promote ongoing innovation. For example, a study from The National Center for Women & Information found that employee diversity is a contributing factor to company growth.

According to the study, researchers found that workplace innovation is less likely to emerge from a group with a more homogenous knowledge base. Put simply: A diverse workforce begets diverse ideas, and this sets the groundwork for continued growth.

By introducing new voices to your IT team, you expose workflows to renewed scrutiny and expose potentially stagnant processes to a versatility of critique. Workplace diversity must be a priority if you hope to remain competitive in the modern era of IT.

Mainframe optimization software

IT managers know that the single most significant hurdle for department growth is cost. As a company grows it makes sense for IT services to follow suit, but increased IT expenses will always, inevitably, be hard to justify to higher-ups no matter the circumstances.

The confounding conundrum IT managers face is how to do more with less. To achieve this seemingly impossible goal, your department must assess its greatest expenses and uncover new optimizations. And, while no two IT departments are the same, one expense consistently stands out among the rest: mainframes.

Did you know that up to 40 percent of most IT budgets go to mainframe expenses? This means there is significant savings potential in mainframe optimization, and reducing the financial impact of your Z Platform activities will help contribute to your company’s bottom line.Of course, this is easier said than done. There are countless factors that could be affecting mainframe costs, and pinpointing a single savings opportunity can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Software licenses, erroneous contracts, operational inefficiencies, and more can all drive mainframe expenses.

When it comes down to it, the only way to contend with the volatility of mainframe activity is to find a cost control solution that is as dynamic as the activity you hope to manage.

ZETALY is the most efficient capacity management software on the market. This program dynamically adjusts defined capacity, and shares MSU consumption among LPARs, in order to maximize system performance without negatively affecting budget. Unlike competing soft capping options, ASC allows for variable MSU consumption according to partition needs, and therefore delivers savings without sacrificing performance.

Contact zCost Management to learn more about reducing IT expenses through ASC and other z/OS software solutions.

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