November 27, 2012, 7:44 AM — Ask anyone in IT about technology trends and you might get a sideways glance. After all, what seems like a novel idea- Google Wave, anyone?-can sometime die on the vine. Few of us are ready to proclaim whether Windows 8 is a raging success or another iterative release.
However, over the past year, a few trends did emerge. Some, such as 3-D printing, took a while to germinate in the basements of arm-chair engineers. Some popped out of nowhere and took the world by storm. These trends all dominated headlines-and, in some case, even changed how we do business and manage the world of IT.
1. Big Data Takes Center Stage
Analyzing reams of data is not a new trend. Massive government labs in northern California and Chicago have sequenced genomes and analyzed nuclear fusion models for decades. What's new is how big data has gone mainstream. Tools such as Google Analytics make it easy for IT admins to analyze the flow of site visits to a company domain, even when there are millions of hits.
How-To: Big Data Analytics Today Lets Businesses Play Moneyball
An ancillary trend: infographics that help explain massive data sets also became popular, if not a bit overused. Colorful charts, expanding onto multiple pages, helped take big data findings and made them comprehendible.
2. Online Training Now Crowdsourced
Corporate training rarely makes sudden lurches forward. For most large companies, online courses to help employees learn a new CRM app or accounting process are now commonplace. What changed in 2012 has to do with the folks creating the content. Sites such as Udemy and Udacity are crowd-sourced training portals where experts can post a training seminar. When the CEO of Yahoo posts a training course to understand how product development works, you know there's a trend.
3. Near-Field Communication Fills a Need