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If there is one constant feature of the rapid pace of change across technology, it must be the consistent outstripping and surpassing of all expectations and expert projections.

So much so that assets once discussed as ‘innovations’ are already the next raft of game-changing technology impacting around the wider world. The advent of 3d printing, the huge impact of big data, and the growth in influence of the cloud are just three innovations that will shape how the computer industry evolves over the next decade.

Everybody from western governments through to aid workers working in remote parts of Africa will be part of this exponential, rather than linear, development that so defines the life cycle of computer technologies.

Whilst all this innovation and envelope-pushing brings huge upsides, the wider computer industry and its partners in commerce, politics and elsewhere will all face massive challenges over the coming decade.

The changing face of IT business

Once it could be said that IT departments should be seen (well, lesser spotted) and not heard, the role of the CIO has never been more ‘front and centre’. some 60% of CIO's believe they should be helping an organisation to drive growth and achieve productivity.

What these wider business ambitions put at risk, though, is the often the technological agility of a company. If a CIO is focusing time and budget away from technology in order to help an it department contribute more to the business bottom line, is this weakening the technological evolution of a firm?

Over the next decade, the role of CIO's and IT departments in keeping up with the pace of tech innovation will come under as much scrutiny as their respective roles in the overall business.

Is the computer industry ready for an interconnected future?

By 2017, there will be a global social network audience of 2.55 billion. alongside this surge in habitual social networking use has come a change in consumer habits. Mobile devices, tablets, even brand new innovations such as wearable technology are amongst the drivers that are re-defining how people access products and make purchases.

This means the traditional definitions we associate with companies are changing. Organisations producing household goods are now internet companies. Tesco, for example, is no longer just a supermarket, but a wider digital service market where we can purchase movies, e-books and even a brand-own tablet device.

The computer industry is no different in having to face up to a fundamental shift in its role. From having large enterprise and business clients to sell to, the emphasis now is on the connected household, and attracting their hard-earned pound towards the technology they need. People want to be connected faster and cheaper to the products they love and the social worlds they move in. the computer industry needs to be flexible in providing the solutions consumers crave.

Will cloud computing shape the IT industry over the coming decade?

The answer to this is almost certainly ‘yes’. One of the most profound challenges to IT firms and IT departments will be ensuring that the skillsets they need to take advantage of cloud services are on-board.

Traditional IT and computing jobs are changing and evolving. Staff will need to be fully versed in how cloud computing can mesh with existing business models; how security and maintenance issues can be addressed and prepped for; and developing the capability to manage migration projects and transitions for those in client-facing and in-house IT positions will also be key.

Changing lives, saving money: health technology in focus

Of all the wider challenges the computing industry faces, it is at the coalface of health care provision where it could be called upon to perform the most vital of life-saving surgery.

The NHS is a constant theme in the UK’s media. Reform, investment, cost-cutting, service quality: examination of the issues around our health service is a daily occurrence. However, could government turn to technology to help in the battle to keep the NHS afloat?

Rather than adding to budget burdens, over the coming years it seems certain that innovations will be introduced as an (eventually) cheaper way for quality service to reach the wider population.

Changes in the way patients interact with health services feature prominently as part of this vanguard. ‘health IT’ is a fast-growing sector, with advents such as patient-doctor video conferencing using smart phones, and devices that offer apps with in-built software that can assess anything from lung capacity to heart rhythm already on the market, especially in the USA.

These aspects of health IT innovation are amongst those that commentators feel could eventually help the UK government cut the costs of healthcare, whilst ensuring a standard of care is upheld. The challenge for the computing world will be to match technology to price expectation, and help in the battle to change perceptions about how health care can be delivered.

For it, then, there are so many different battles to be fought. The future is exciting, the world is getting smaller, emerging markets are becoming tech hubs. The next generation of IT superstars are as likely to emerge from it as they are from Manila, or Bangalore.

However, with continued economic instability, governments and businesses will have budget decisions to make that could define the direction of computer technology over the coming decades. Will there be room for the advance so many people advocate on the balance sheet? Only time will tell.