Every December and January, media outlets line up to reveal their predictions for the coming year. The big analyst players like McKinsey, Forrester, IDC and Gartner take a macro view and tend to deal with the bleeding edge of the industry, while industry experts often discuss what they would like to happen in the coming 12 months rather than what they actually think. Often the most visionary scenarios are only really going to happen to a tiny number of early-adopter organisations, with the rest of the world catching up gradually.
So roughly 100 days in to 2016 (the 100th day was the 9th April in this leap year), we thought we’d pick out three of the predictions that were made about business technology that we think were particularly relevant to our customers, and see how they’re doing so far.
Bernard Golden reported on the IDC and Forrester predictions for 2016 to round up his 5 major insights – – saying that the year was going to be a hard one for vendors, and that along with cloud providers, they would see a lot of major restructuring. We have definitely seen considerable movement in the cloud industry already this year, with Amazon and Ericsson forming an alliance, Apple using some of Google’s cloud capacity for iCloud and HP selling Microsoft cloud services.
For our customers, this hasn’t made much difference so far. There are enough major providers of mainstream private and public cloud services (such as email or backup) for our customers to be able to create the most efficient hybrid cloud setups without too much risk, even if there are shifts in the market generally. The biggest risk is in the more industry-specific line of business applications, where smaller providers might be swallowed up or go under leaving businesses unsupported – something to think about when choosing a vendor.
Another of the predictions Mr Golden and many others make is about big data. There are some exciting things happening in the world of big data involving machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). You are probably already using a number of AI applications such as Siri, and now everyone is talking about chatbots as the big thing for 2016. However, we think many businesses are just as concerned about data security and storage, especially in the light of recent high profile hacks. The Mossack Fonseca Panama papers were sourced through someone hacking their email server and copying 2.6 terabytes of data without anyone noticing, which is a pretty big leak to be accessed in such a simple way.
Shadow IT (technology being used without the organisation’s approval) is a big issue here, with 80% of employees surveyed by Microsoft admitting to using unauthorised cloud applications for work purposes: this means potentially a lot of your business data sitting in places that your IT team doesn’t know about and can’t secure for you. Gartner highlights the user issue in cloud security as well, predicting that by 2020, 95% of cloud security issues will be the customer’s fault rather than the provider’s. We are seeing all businesses becoming much more aware of cyber security generally and thinking carefully about their mobile, BYOD and flexible working policies and processes as a result, which can only be a good thing.
The third prediction to highlight is Forrester’s statement that 2016 will be all about technology that enhances the customer experience. Up until now, technology that enhances productivity and efficiency has been a big focus, with niche apps such as Slack, Trello and Toggl becoming more and more feature rich and challenging established brands, and organisations looking at ways of getting all their business applications to work together harmoniously. Forrester predicts that in 2016 organisations will focus more and more on technology that has a direct impact on customer experience and enables the organisation to deliver improved services.
We are seeing this being borne out across many sectors, from visitor attractions investing in robust public wi-fi to support much more interactive visitor experiences, to professional services firms pushing for a more modern, digitally enabled way of delivering services. Fintech – financial services technology – is already having a significant impact on the industry, with other professions not far behind. This increased focus can only be a good thing – in the marketing and creative sector, for example, marketing technologists have a bewildering array of tech to choose from – and in the end, it must always come down to picking the ones that are going to enable the organisation to serve the customer better.
If you want to talk about how new technology could help your business – or how to use your current technology better – just give us a call on 0207 043 7044 or 0117 974 5179 – or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.