Talking Technology: Where Are We Headed?

Dr. Mark E. Dean, vice president of worldwide technical strategy for IBM Research, sets the technical direction and overall strategy for eight labs across the globe. The IBM Fellow and National Inventors? Hall of Fame inductee also leads global operations for IBM Research.

As part of his role, Dean focuses on embedding intelligence into modern infrastructures that will eventually run our lives?and, most importantly, make our world smarter.

Dean took time out of his hectic schedule to speak with Baseline about the future of enterprise technologies and how they will fit into the wider world.

Baseline: What do you see coming next on the horizon for enterprise environments?

Mark Dean: In the short term, I certainly see the growth and deployment of cloud technologies being key for enterprise environments. In fact, IBM has been working diligently on cloud computing. I also see security as an area that will be pushed in the near future.

What are the benefits offered by cloud technologies?

Dean: You can get more from the computer power in play at a fraction of the cost. There are even savings available from the amount of energy used to support cloud computing compared to the power costs associated with individual on-site installations. Many small and medium-size organizations may forsake the costs of individual infrastructures and go with public clouds for large parts of their operations.

Also, effective use of hybrid clouds can level the playing field. While it takes work, you can design cloud-based systems to provide services and support that are secure and private. Enterprise technologies operate globally, with a wide variety of entry points and access levels.

You also mentioned security as an upcoming enterprise environment.

Dean: Yes, while security is becoming a major concern for organizations across the globe, it will also have to be fine-grained and closer to where the data exists. The future of enterprise technology will certainly see systems that push security parameters back into the enterprise?and not just at firewalls, which function only at the fringe of any system.

Secure systems and software will allow security to become an integrated function that will allow organizations to act and operate with confidence. These new security developments will result in more well-rounded enterprises.

What about the ?next big thing? that will change the way we do business?

Dean: While business communities are already using mobile devices to help manage business operations, this is a trend that will continue to grow. So, naturally, the infrastructure to support these mobile networks, particularly applications and security, will be critical to companies because mobile devices will eventually outpace laptops as the technology of choice.

What about the future of technology in the career sense?both for those in the early stages of pursuing technology and for executives?

Dean: There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the technological arena no matter what stage of your career. Particularly for those just starting out, it?s important to note that careers that didn?t exist 10 years ago are in full force today. People in these positions are helping to solve some of the world?s most complex problems, such as finding solutions to environmental issues.

Therefore, students should begin thinking about areas where they feel they can make a difference with their technical knowledge and skills. And executives should be more open to these changes and shifts in the industry. Embracing the evolving nature of our business will help them stay in business.

With that being said, what would you like to see done to make our next generation more competitive?

Dean: Technology, in the form of language translation packages, may lessen the need to be multilingual. But being multilingual should be valued more highly in our world, as it will help engage our next generation in the global business space.

Also, with the expansion and growth of the Internet and technology in general, our generation and future ones have the tools to make the world more accessible. However, if we don?t use these tools effectively, we will be severely disadvantaged and do ourselves a major injustice in the technical arena. But the next generation?s comfort level with technology gives us reasons to expect ongoing success.

So, our real challenge is to stay focused, be open to the evolving environment, and pride ourselves on our flexibility and adaptability.