As the world wakes up to the possibilities of cloud computing and an increasing number of people both in business and in the general population start to really get a handle on what it is, it’s important to stop and take stock of what is really going on and what cloud can enable.

Plenty of people have written straight-up advice on what cloud is and whether it is for you, including me, so I’m not going to repeat myself or them here.

Instead, I’m going to look forward, make an attempt to predict new trends and make an analysis of existing ones.

Let’s start off with somebody else’s prediction first.

According to Gartner, IT budgets will increase 3.8 per cent this year. However, they have not specified what this extra money will be spent on.

For me, I think we will see a lot of investment in mobile and mobility. From BYOD to company-distributed mobile device management to virtualisation, organisations have begun to realise they need to work with their employees to manage a trend that could be highly beneficial, providing it is done well.

The seemingly unstoppable march of these mobile devices has increased people’s opportunities for flexible working, which has come a long way in the past few years. Employees are increasingly looking for companies that are willing to enable them to do their jobs better by allowing them some flexibility, be it working from home a couple of days a week or working adjusted hours. Cloud and mobile technologies can only help to further facilitate this, however for some companies there are still questions over security and it is up to the industry to resolve or reassure them.

There are another two key trends I think we will see increasing in importance in 2013 and beyond: gamification and hybrid clouds.

Gamification, much of which is delivered through the cloud, is approaching the peak of inflated expectations on Gartner’s hype cycle. I think this goes beyond the normal over-excitement about new technology, because a lot of people do not understand what it is for. So I think this year we will see the tipping point and gentle slide into the trough of disillusionment, but for me that means the technology is reaching maturity. People will start to realise it is not a panacea, but it is still a very useful technology.

To me, hybrid clouds increasingly seem to be the resolution organisations are coming to in order to balance data privacy and security with flexibility and on-demand computing. It may not be a permanent solution – technology is ever evolving – but it seems to be the most satisfactory solution for now.

However, despite the technological advances there have been there is no doubt that, particularly in the UK, we have fallen behind with skills like coding and the actual ‘hands-on’ elements of working in IT. Everyone and their grandmother now knows how to use a computer, even if it is at the most basic level, but it’s no good having a great technology if no one knows how to build upon it.

Nevertheless, I am hopeful that this is going to change before it is too late. The current government has recognised the need to teach the current generation of school children not just how a computer works, but how to make it work. As they come into the workplace I think they will have the skills needed to properly take on the cloud and properly implement it and grow it as a technology.

Jane McCallion

Reporter at IT Pro and Cloud Pro

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