Ga. shapes tech future

Ten years ago, when someone pictured the vital companies headquartered in Atlanta, those that came to mind included Delta Air Lines Inc., Coca-Cola Co., UPS and Home Depot. Atlanta ranked third among cities with the highest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters in 2004.

Today, Athenahealth, Scoutmob, Pindrop Security, Yik-Yak and dozens of other startups and smaller IT companies housed in such incubators as Atlanta Tech Village, Tech City South and Ponce City Market are major players in Atlanta’s booming technology sector. According to a 2012 Kauffman Foundation study, Georgia ranked second in the U.S. for the largest growth in entrepreneurial activity over the past decade.

With the explosion of entrepreneurs, IT companies and start-ups in Atlanta, the rest of the country looks to this city to blaze a tech trail. For Atlanta to remain a hotbed of technology and continue to recruit the best talent, it’s vital for tech businesses to plan their coming year’s strategy around the top anticipated trends.

At ExecuSource, we see firsthand what tech companies value, emphasize and need in business strategy and workforce. The coming year will be characterized by capturing more data through mobile phone use, efficiently storing that data, and keeping that data safe through mobile development, cloud storage and security.

Mobile Development: Tech-savvy fans rejoice: Next year's mobile development will go far beyond the newest iPhone. Android growth, wearable technology and mobile apps that can control real-world activities (such as the Nest Thermostat) are on track for robust activity in the coming year. Android development is beginning to outpace Apple, wearables have reached beyond early adopters, and you can now control your thermostat through your phone while still in your bed – all of which capture an unprecedented amount of behavioral data. In 2015, expect big changes in your day-to-day life through the use of your cell phone.

Cloud Storage: If you don't know the phrase yet, expect to see "big data" grace the headlines of every tech publication next year. Big data refers to all the information companies want to capture from their customers, such as purchasing history, addresses and social media interaction to manage and perfect the customer experience. With the phasing out of physical servers comes the widespread use of massive data centers, such as the 970,000-square-foot QTS Atlanta Metro-Data Center in Atlanta, and virtual servers, both of which still need to develop methods to keep data safer and more efficiently.

Security: While companies are mastering how to effectively store data, there's a growing interest and need to keep big data safe to avoid repeats of the Home Depot, Target and other security breaches that compromised 1.2 billion emails and passwords. Companies cannot succeed in the digital space without data security. To combat hackers, real-time, self-protecting applications will take off. In September, HP introduced the first cloud-managed application that protects itself against attacks. Applications with built-in self-protection capabilities are beginning to be in high demand and will become standard in the next few years.

Atlanta finally has a seat at the technology table. If we want our region to continue to receive angel investors’ dollars over other tech-centric cities like San Francisco and Raleigh, it’s up to Atlanta tech companies to develop these and other top trends, such as 3D printing and aggregating big data, in order to recruit and retain the best talent.

No longer can companies only offer contractual positions to lure the best employees. ExecuSource is seeing that highly desired employees who are knowledgeable and open to learning many aspects of technology — and not limited to only one facet of IT — will rarely settle for less than permanent hiring.

With more than 260,000 high-tech jobs in Atlanta, the future of technology can be shaped right here in the Peach State.

Frank Green is president of ExecuSource, an Atlanta staffing firm.