2018 is here – So what now?

Yes it’s here, it’s another one of those predictions for 2018 type of posts. Well kind of, but this one focusses a little more on what I think I’ll be getting into during 2018 and also what I think will prevail in related technologies. Here are my thoughts for 2018 based on what I’ve seen in 2017 and beyond and just to be clear, any opinions expressed are solely mine.

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New year new me?

It’s become a tradition hasn’t it that we make decisions and set resolutions at new year on how we will become a better individual either personally, at work or both. During the Christmas break I popped a question up on LinkedIn to see what people had decided was the skill they would or should learn in 2018, check it out here and please do add your comment – https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6352648437795745792/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(activity%3A6352648437795745792%2C6353909345817886721) There are some interesting comments on there already from soft skills such as speaking to specific tech and obtaining certification.

For me personally I’m firstly hoping to manage to keep up with Microsoft as that in itself is a challenge. More specifically I’m hoping to pick up some new skills in both technology and non-technology areas. I’ll cover both of these below in line.

Which products?

I have recently enjoyed getting involved with some PowerBI work which I thoroughly enjoyed and it ties in with SQL skills I once used some years back so I’ll be looking to develop that further in 2018. It’s not a new technology but I do feel it’s a little underutilised in some specific areas.

I have also been keeping track on Windows AutoPilot as I think this is definitely one to watch and I expect this to develop hugely over 2018 making cloud provisioning of devices a real option (where it hasn’t been before) and alternative to traditional methods for many organisations. This is of course the path that Microsoft are leading us along which I am all for if the solution is good. I’m starting to feel that they are now getting something tangible on this which will make people think about their solution choices.

Of course SCCM is still coming on leaps and bounds and having spent a little time with David James and interacted with the product team in 2017 I don’t see this slowing this year. Intune and EM+S is of course progressing still and as a sometimes hesitant adopter of hyped up tech I do think for probably the first time that 2018 will start to prove competitive between SCCM and Intune. We hear a lot about Intune but when we consider the consumption (no. of devices) statistics against SCCM it’s a drop in the ocean (~2%), especially for Windows 10 management as the overwhelming majority of devices in Intune are still mobile phones. Particularly in the UK where I understand Intune usage to be below average compared to other regions. Those stats are not in any way official, just based on conversations I’ve had with key Microsoft contacts during 2017.

I have spent some time in 2017 working with Operations Management Suite, I will continue to do so as I believe this is a suite of capabilities that is on the up and will integrate with many others as has been seen already. This for me is that single pane of glass that has often been talked about by many but seldom achieved. In my position I’m keeping a keen interest on the OMS patching capabilities as this progresses but also looking where else I can tie this into my core client management products.

Non-technological advances

In my own role I have seen a number of change over the last 12 months, in-part due to company acquisitions and also due to a reaction to changing technology. What does that mean? Well certainly in my own role I have seen a focus shift away from regular IT consulting more towards automation and achieving a DevOps practice as well as managed services offering. Some of these changes require different organisational and soft skills than in the traditional world of work so I see progression of my skills in these areas as something I will be working on in 2018. Understanding DevOps methodologies and Agile practices is key as technology changes the way we work. Cloud-enablement of organisations allows for streamlining of processes and that is both for the cloud consumer and cloud provider. As we all know but may not yet admit the future for the traditional system admin requires a more development focussed mind. Whilst I might not be 100% engaged with the practicalities or effectiveness of this right now, this is a very slow process of change for an industry, I expect to see some progression on enablement for this in 2018 but I also think this will be on the 2019 list too. The most difficult thing in implementing any technology solution is not the technology, it’s the people and the culture. Here’s an observation too, many people say the traditionalist system admin will be out of a job if they don’t keep up with modern methods. Whilst true to some extent, it is widely reported there is a skills shortage for cloud technologies so until organisations work on that progression route for their employees then advancement will continue to be slow for that traditionalist system admin. Once organisations help to advance those skills they can start to full utilise agile and DevOps type methodologies. Many companies I work with are still behind the hype on this one but it is there for the taking.

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IT Community

Now for the extra-curricular stuff. I’ve been doing IT community ‘stuff’ for 5 years now and each year I try to do something a little different and notch it up a level. 2017 saw me speaking at a few user group events in the UK and I had the pleasure of speaking at Experts Live Europe which is a great conference. I did some ‘blog alignment’ so I’m back on my own blog alongside the regular posts I make for WMUG. I’ve done a few video posts too which have proven popular and have notched up around 1000 views in the last few months. I was also invited to the MVP Community Connect event in 2017 as a community leader and that was a real pleasure. With any luck the invite will be extended again this year as I got a lot out of this from the excellent speakers put on by Microsoft.

In 2018 I’m planning on continuing to add blog posts as and where I can and I certainly have a few more videos in the pipeline for the near future. I have organised a local WMUG event in Manchester for January and I hope to continue those throughout the year dependent on interest so watch this space. Now as a family man I can’t be at every international conference as much as I would like to be, but I have submitted some sessions at a couple of conferences and events both in the UK and elsewhere. Again watch this space for news on those. As the year goes on I’ll be sure to share anything interesting that I get up to.

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So, before this post becomes a short book I’ll wrap it up. I think this will be a year of change personally and I hope you have all set yourself some suitable goals for the year ahead. Happy 2018!

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