The last year was a challenging one for the IT world. From dealing with a huge shortage of in-demand IT talent to weathering some of the largest data breaches in history, 2017’s notable events provided several lessons we can learn from this year.

For the IT industry, 2018 is looking to be a year of challenging the status quo, especially in terms of workplace preferences, workforce identity and radical security approaches. Here are some of the trends that will drive IT strategies.

Investing in reactive security over preemptive security

With the Equifax, Whole Foods and Chipotle hacks making front-page headlines in the last year, security breaches are serious concerns for businesses and consumers alike. Cyberattacks are so prevalent that most companies have either been hacked, are about to be hacked or are unaware they’ve already been hacked.

Many companies are weighing the burden of recovering from a hack versus taking preemptive security measures. Some organizations deem the time, money and human resources required to prepare for a breach is actually not worth the investment. If the clean-up effort costs less than the preemptive effort, and if they think a hack is inevitable regardless of what they do, they roll the dice on investing less in upfront security.

In many cases, the fallout hinges on the company’s line of business. For example, the Equifax hack was completely debilitating to the credit reporting company. But, Target and Home Depot were able to recover quickly and smoothly and regain customer trust in the process. Some would argue that positive recovery even helped Home Depot’s brand.

The rise of the gig IT economy

With a major talent shortage underway, 65 percent of CIOs are claiming a lack of IT talent is hurting the tech industry. IT leaders may be suffering due to the shortage, but this presents opportunities for IT talent to customize their work styles and schedules since their skills are so in demand.

As IT professionals exercise more control over where and how they work, they have the luxury of picking and choosing the projects they work on. IT talent increasingly expects variety and exposure to different environments and organizations. The contractor model allows them to create their own long vacations, especially when they specialize in high-paying, short-term projects.

With traditional IT models in place, however, most organizations lack the policies and recruiting tools to accommodate a remote, gig-based workforce. Chasing gig talent is a vastly different process than managing a low-turnover, traditional workforce. IT recruiters should start thinking about how to dedicate resources to supporting IT gig talent, so their organization can keep up with the shifting future of work.

Digital workplace technology will improve diversity

Lack of diversity in IT is a well-publicized issue, and younger generations in the workplace have a natural expectation for diversity when they go to work. It’s no longer a selling point – it’s a necessity.

When it comes to improving organizational diversity, IT leaders may need to think outside their geographic locations. Here, the rise of remote work can save the day. In fact, 74 percent of office workers would leave their current employer for a job that allowed them to work from home more often.

Many companies, particularly in the tech industry, are beginning to embrace digital workplace and collaboration technology to diversify their workforces. Looking outside the physical limitations of a company’s headquarters provides a broader and more diverse applicant pool. It also allows recruiters to find more skilled employees.

While 2018 will likely be another interesting ride in for IT, 2017 presented several valuable lessons and takeaways. In such a fast-moving industry, the worst IT leaders can do is to refuse to learn from past industry mistakes and be left in the dust as new trends emerge. As traditional workplace habits and security practices give way, the best IT leaders are preparing for the new normal.

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