I have been working in the Information Technology industry for over 20 years. Like any other industry there has been an enormous amount of change in the technology and how we use it. Have a look around the web and you will find lots of lists of the big ICT trends for 2018. Based on what I have seen over the past years, I have identified 5 practical trends that I believe will have an impact on how we do business together.
Collaboration and Communication
It’s amazing how much some things change and some stay the same. I have found for example in my business the use of email has dropped dramatically. We now use IM tools for questions and urgent communications. I think the next year or two will see a dramatic increase in messenger apps between business to business. Tools like Slack, Teams and Facebook Messenger make quick, short communications a breeze. I’m not a fan of Chat Bots, however the AI technology behind these are making them very effective and they will be an integral part of any customer service strategy.
The current buzz is around Compulsory Data Breach Notification. (You can find helpful information here.) Businesses need to be aware of what you do in case of a breach, review your basic data security and how it’s used in your business. The legislation is brand new and there is not a clear path for all to follow. My tip is, either assign an internal resource or engage an IT professional to review your security process’s and policies.
Aside from the CDBN legislation, you should have control of where your critical data is within your network, and who has access to it. Backups are critical and you may be required to have data retention for up to 7 years. Email archive is often overlooked, and it is quite possible you will have a data retrieval request for emails if you end up in court for a legal issue. The bottom line is, you need to think about the data you have, where it is and what will happen when it is leaked or stolen. Be prepared, have a plan and test it. This will prepare you for when a breach does happen, so you will not be in panic mode.
One of your most valuable assets is your data. 2018 will see progress with Machine Learning and AI, however, this will not be as big of an impact as was first predicted. A lot of our data is not clean or organised enough to take advantage of AI. 2018 will be the year of cleaning up data and implementing better process around how and what we store. We will see progress in data analytics, giving us real time dashboard and reports on all aspects of our business.
Most Small to Medium business will use tools that have this technology embedded to add insights to your operations. The opportunity to obtain a competitive advantage in the market will depend on how well you analyse data and implement changes. Your customers and suppliers will be using AI and machine learning to track your activities and gain market intelligence, so you best join them and start down the path.
Blockchain is being driven into the limelight because of the rise of Bitcoin. Bitcoin effectively uses the Blockchain technology to trace financial transactions. Blockchain is much more than Bitcoin, but I am not going to explain all the details here as there are plenty of resources on the web.
The real question is what impact will it have on your business in the next 12 months. Simply put, not much. If you happen to fall victim to a ransomware attack, you may need some Bitcoin to buy your way out of it, but that is not really using Blockchain as a technology. What will develop is a decentralised peer to peer communications protocol and will have a big impact on how we do business across the internet. Real world use of these technologies is probably 2 years way. It is important to keep abreast of developments in this technology. However, it will really be services that you use that will have blockchain embedded within them. As a result, Blockchain will have little impact this year.
Adoption of Cloud Services has increased over the past couple of years. With NBN now rolled out to many regional centres we have seen great uptake in Cloud email, IE; Office 365 and Cloud Backup & Disaster Recovery services. The market continues to improve with more providers offering their products and service to the market. For our clients, there is more migration to SAAS based applications rather than migration of traditional servers to Cloud infrastructure (IAAS).
Large scale web hosting or high volume online transactions is the exception. The offerings from AWS and Azure are hard to beat with your own on-premise infrastructure. There is not a one size fits all solution when it comes to cloud. You should have a Cloud Strategy on what you are willing to have cloud hosted and what must be on premise. There are pro’s and con’s for both scenarios. If you need help deciding reach out to an IT Professional that can help you.