The year 2015 has been another exhilarating year in the technology industry, with advances in cloud computing, machine-to-machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) all to the fore. Mobility continues to be central to the way we live and enterprises are increasingly thinking ‘mobile first’ in their procurement strategy.
So what to expect in 2016? Well thanks to the rapid and ongoing rise of all things mobile, cloud and the IoT, there will be millions more devices connected to networks in the coming year, putting security to the forefront. Frost & Sullivan has named security its number one issue for 2016. For all the benefits of increased agility, flexibility, productivity and convenience provided by IoT and smart devices, the system remains worryingly open to attack.
Data remains as precious as ever and in the light of incidents like the Ashley Madison website hack and subsequent leak of customer data, Frost & Sullivan predicts that cyber-insurance will become increasingly commonplace. But security applies across the ICT board, with smart homes and connected cars needing to be watertight, while attacks on networked Industrial Control Systems (ICS) which control public utilities and critical infrastructure must also have robust security measures in place.
Artificial intelligence enters the mainstream
Gartner meanwhile focuses on automation, robotics, machine-driven industries and artificial intelligence (AI) in its predictions for 2016 and beyond. The rise and rise of machine-generated content gets a prominent mention, with Gartner projecting that by 2018, 20 percent of business content will be written by machines, using data and analytical information which has been converted into natural language.
Machine control will increase in the financial sector too, with Gartner forecasting that by 2020 five percent of all economic transactions will be conducted by autonomous software agents with no human control. In the workplace, robotic technology will become more common, with over 3 million workers around the world having a ‘robo-boss’ by 2018, with technology powering the monitoring, evaluation and performance capabilities of the role.
Smart machines will continue their march into the working environment, with Gartner predicting that start-ups and small companies will use the technologies to enjoy greater speed, cost savings, productivity and scalability. Between now and 2018 Gartner believes that 45 percent of fastest-growing companies will have more smart machines in place than they have employees.
Technology will increase its presence in the customer experience arena too, with customer digital assistants growing in sophistication. Between now and 2018, digital assistants will learn to recognize individual customers by both face and voice, and will mimic human conversations. Machine-based tech will also help organizations manage ever-growing amounts of data and help increase customer loyalty via a great interactive experience.
Support for the IoT
Connected devices also feature, with Gartner positing that by 2018, 6 billion connected objects will be requesting support – meaning that strategies, technologies and processes will have to be in place to respond to them. It will become necessary to think of connected devices less as ‘things’, but more as customers and consumers of services in themselves – and as such in need of constant support.
The connected building is already a reality but the growing proliferation of smart homes and offices means a change in the nature of the threat to them. Digital vandalism will become a trend, with 20 percent of smart buildings having been attacked by 2018. The attacks vary in type, from defacing digital signs to potentially cutting off power to the building altogether leaving it offline and disconnected. Organizations must be ready to adapt existing security processes and protocols to encompass the smart building.
On security, Gartner also estimates that between now and 2020, 95 percent of cloud security breaches and failures will be the fault of the customer rather than the provider. This speaks to the need for organizations that are implementing cloud policies to implement their own security processes too, to try to minimize the risk when potentially many thousands of employees have access to sensitive data.
All about the digital transformation
Another of the major research houses, IDC, focused its 2016 predictions largely around digital transformation. One of the standout predictions is that by 2020 more than 30 percent of today’s technology suppliers will not exist as they do today, having been acquired or failed. Also by 2020, nearly 50 percent of IT budgets will be allocated to digital transformation initiatives, while by 2017 over 50 percent of IT spending will go on new technologies like mobile, cloud and big data.
Consolidation will be prevalent too, with IDC projecting that by 2018, 75 to 80 percent of public cloud services will be provided by 6 platform vendors, including Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce.
Delving deeper into the forecasts made by Gartner, Frost & Sullivan and IDC, it certainly appears that the pace of digital innovation is accelerating, with disruptive technologies to the fore and changing the economics and practices we’ve been used to in traditional business.