Society’s growing reliance on mobile devices and dig­ital resources has led to a tec­tonic shift in infor­ma­tion tech­nology, according to Joseph M. Tucci, chairman and CEO of EMC Cor­po­ra­tion. He said that shift is forcing busi­nesses to increas­ingly make deci­sions based on bytes, tril­lions of them, and that their future suc­cess will be increas­ingly shaped by how they inno­vate and take advan­tage of oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by IT’s transformation.

How busi­nesses, in any industry, handle this trans­for­ma­tion will define their future,” Tucci said.

Tucci was the keynote speaker Friday morning at Northeastern’s CEO Break­fast Forum. The series, hosted by Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun, fea­tures leading CEOs who share their exper­tise with audi­ences of other CEOs and senior exec­u­tives from the Greater Boston area. The Hop­kinton, Mass.-based EMC is a global leader in infor­ma­tion tech­nology, employing some 60,000 across 85 coun­tries. Aoun lauded Tucci for his lead­er­ship at EMC, which, he said, has to con­tin­u­ally meet the chal­lenges pre­sented by evolving technologies.

Tucci, a member of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees, high­lighted the “spe­cial” rela­tion­ship between EMC and North­eastern. EMCs founders, Richard J. Egan and Roger M. Marino, are North­eastern alumni, and the com­pany has been a long­standing sup­porter of the university’s sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, hiring more than 700 stu­dents since 2002 for a range of experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties. Nearly 450 alumni are cur­rently EMC employees, and the part­ner­ship has extended to Northeastern’s high-​​tech MBA pro­gram for more than a decade.

In his talk, Tucci pointed to four trends that will drive infor­ma­tion tech­nology in the imme­diate future: mobility, cloud com­puting, big data, and social net­working, all of which, he said, are inter­re­lated. He also said they hinge on “trust,” meaning busi­nesses and indi­vid­uals must feel that their pri­vate infor­ma­tion is secure.

These trends present lim­it­less soci­etal appli­ca­tions, according to Tucci. Sen­sors, for example, could mon­itor a marathon runner’s heart rate and pro­vide real-​​time data about main­te­nance required by a jetliner.

Tucci noted IT has evolved across three plat­forms. First came smain­frames and mini com­puters, fol­lowed by desk­tops and lap­tops. Now mobile devices serve bil­lions of users and soon will pro­vide mil­lions of apps.

Mass­a­chu­setts, he said, is posi­tioned to seize the oppor­tu­nity to become a leader in the mobile plat­form by cap­i­tal­izing on its strengths in areas like industry and research uni­ver­si­ties like North­eastern, and forming dynamic col­lab­o­ra­tions that lead to inno­v­a­tive solu­tions. One such col­lab­o­ra­tion is the Mass­a­chu­setts Green High Per­for­mance Com­puting Center, a part­ner­ship between state gov­ern­ment, com­pa­nies including like EMC, and local uni­ver­si­ties including Northeastern.

As infor­ma­tion tech­nology oppor­tu­ni­ties expand, Tucci said higher-​​education insti­tu­tions will play an inte­gral role in training the next gen­er­a­tion of data sci­en­tists and building cur­ricula that blend cre­ativity with the dis­ci­plines of sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering, and math­e­matics, known col­lec­tively as “STEM.”

We have a mas­sive amount of data in so many places, and we need people who can reason over this data in real time to make better deci­sions and change busi­ness models,” Tucci said.

Fol­lowing his talk, Tucci fielded sev­eral ques­tions from the audi­ence and online viewers that ranged from cre­ating a pipeline of data sci­en­tists to how infor­ma­tion technology’s evo­lu­tion in sur­veil­lance and pri­vacy. When asked by Aoun how the U.S. is posi­tioned to com­pete in the IT space on a global level, Tucci said Amer­ican inno­va­tion will con­tinue dri­ving its lead­er­ship, but that the country must main­tain its com­mit­ment to excel­lence as coun­tries like China and India con­tinue their global ascension.

Watch the full video of the event: