I envisage 2014 as a transition year for businesses and a pivotal moment as the broader macroeconomic environment improves. In the past few years, we have seen a number of new technologies and approaches emerge, their development and adoption driven by their ability to save on cost as well as deliver new business opportunities. Examples include the likes of virtualisation, software defined networks and “bring your own device”.

Yet as organisations ease in austerity and shift from survival to growth mode, we will see a mindset where IT decision making is based on long-term value as opposed to short-term competitive advantage. Whilst this may mean putting disruptive technology implementations on hold, CIOs will be actively looking to leverage proven technologies to create new opportunities for their organisation. Here are my top trends for 2014:

CIOs Will Opt For Proven Solutions Over Disruptive Technologies

A recent study by the CEB predicted that IT budgets are expected to increase by around 3% as confidence in the economy returns. Yet despite the ease in austerity, more than ever CIOs will be making smart albeit hard choices when it comes to IT investments.

Many businesses are expecting to make high value strategic investments in 2014 which focus on proven technologies delivering long-term return on investment as opposed to disruptive technologies which may provide short term competitive advantage.

Areas include the digitisation of the workforce, hybrid networks, cloud, of which are approaches that are not only recognised as meeting the performance needs of organisations, but also address the need for low cost and long-term return on investment.

The Year For Expanding Into Africa

To combat tough economic conditions, many organisations realise the best approach is to seek growth in new markets. Technology is the bridge to help organisations achieve their global ambitions and whilst budgets remain tight, investment in proven technologies to enable global growth will continue.

In the past year, I have seen significant growth in a number of my customers operating outside of their traditional sphere of Europe or North America, expanding their operations across APAC regions. However as the region becomes increasingly competitive, I envisage that many organisations will be targeting Africa as the region attracts significant investment into telecoms infrastructure.

CIOs looking to help their organisation expand into the region must ensure they have access to a compatible and consistent network infrastructure to navigate the region’s technical challenges.

Roaming Regulation

In the past year, we have seen a great deal of discussion around the future of the telecoms market in the EU its impact on telecom operators. More pressingly is the debate around roaming charges to individual operators. In 2014, this discussion will continue as we see operators collaborate to show the necessity for individual roaming charges in order to bring the best service to customers.

3D Printing To Build New Business Models

3D printing has been a subject of much hype in 2013 not as a result of its technology, but more so its ability to disrupt the manufacturing industry. Once the preserve of high-tech laboratories, the technology has been maturing in the last few years. As a result in 2014, I envisage that 3D printing will become more integrated and tangible as we start to see businesses using 3D printing to redefine their business models.

We could also see new cottage industries begin to emerge in areas such as the local manufacturing of spare parts as well as in less obvious areas such as in genetics as the cost of gene sequencing machines continue to fall. In the long term, there are a number of broader IT considerations organisations will need to consider including data storage, security management and bandwidth capabilities to accommodate new business models.