The field of information technology (IT) has evolved significantly over the past several years. As IT leaders work to develop strategies for 2016, analytics, cloud computing and cyber security are major areas of focus. Forbes' Peter High predicts that the latest in technologies will have a "significant impact" on the way companies operate over the next several years. To inform your IT road map for the months to come, here are five IT trends that will revolutionize the way businesses define productivity, customer communications and more.

1. IoT Technology Investments

Research firm Gartner predicts that "computing everywhere" will be a key area of investment for companies hoping to capitalize on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Consumer adoption of smartphones and tablet technology represented the first wave of connected devices, which are generating rich streams of real-time analytic insights. Wearable technology is likely to be the next wave of IoT tech.

2. Customer Mobile Applications

As consumer adoption of branded and non-branded mobile apps continues to grow, many organizations are choosing to invest in customer-facing, mobile technologies. Localytics Research reports that consumers are spending 21 percent more time engaged with apps. As a marketing investment, mobile apps yield a 400-500 percent higher return than paid digital advertising.

3. Cyber Security

91 percent of organizations have adopted an information security framework in response to an increased climate of threats. As budgets are shifted to protect companies from devastating cyber crime attacks, companies are increasingly leveraging executive support, big data analytics, and company-wide initiatives for smarter protection, according to PWC.

4. Advanced Data Analytics

Various applications of big data analytics are a major focus for many organizations, who are choosing to allocate budget towards technologies and talent for data science teams. CIO's Thor Olavsrud writes that two sub-domains of analytics that are trending include cognitive analytics and monetization strategies as companies hope to profit from big data-driven decision systems.

5. Contextually Smart Technologies

Embedded systems and analytics are increasingly adopted by organizations, which has prompted Gartner to designate "context-rich systems" among the top five IT trends shaping 2015. Smart thermostats, smart office systems and other sensor-driven applications of smart computing are some of the cost-saving areas that companies could invest in during the months to come.

If there was a single area of focus that will shape information technology in the year to come, it would be data. Companies are striving to monetize, analyze, and protect the rich streams of data that result from smartphones, sensors, wearables and other tech devices. Keeping a focus on applying these new developments can yield a competitive advantage for the sharpest brands.

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