Technology Business Trends for 2016

2016 On Laptop Shows Future Technology And Electronic Devices

Have you used one? Do you know someone who has one? The answer is probably yes. We’re talking about the wearable technology bracelets that record something you are doing (i.e. Fitbit) or vie to replace your phone and tablet (i.e. AppleWatch). They are the latest thing and they’re fun – plus they may motivate you to exercise, or even enjoy a bit of healthy competition with your neighbor. But what happens when the friendly competition is with your co-worker and your job may be on the line? BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is so last year. Today our clients are struggling to deal with BYOW – Bring Your Own Wearable – and a host of other tech-related trends we’re keeping an eye on.

Wearables

Top tech names like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Motorola are big in computing and mobile devices so it’s no surprise their foray into the wearable technology market is no surprise. This market is booming, according to Business Insider. While the majority of the sales are currently to consumers, that’s likely to change as businesses learn about the benefits to having a healthier workforce. Forbes predicts that by 2020, 17% of wearable device sales will originate from industry customers. But whether or not your business buys wearables, employees will be bringing them to the office. And then what? Check your policies.

Alternative Payments/Alternative Money

Have you seen the recent Samsung Pay commercial where a young man goes to pay for his coffee with his phone and the owner says, “We don’t have that new technology,” but the guy clicks his phone on their card machine – and zip – it is paid for? Smartphone companies and smart phone app developers are bypassing the slow adoption rate by merchants for alternative payment technologies and giving consumers the means and the power to determine how they want to pay for purchases and services.

Data, Cloud, Security, Privacy

Do you still have a server in your company? Many businesses have migrated to the cloud as a way to cut costs and be more productive. The biggest concern for most of us is preventing data breaches and safeguarding records. Government agencies are starting to present guidelines and regulations regarding the security of consumer data – have you read them? Do you have a security process/policy in place? You are never too small to be hit. Encryption and other security controls like two-factor authentication for logging into your business system can be well worth the cost (if any – many options are free) and minimal extra hassle to protect your business.

Artificial Intelligence and Robots

2015 was the year of the robot revolution business apocalypse. Multiple books, articles and interviews this year bemoan the imminent demise of humans as robots (i.e., artificial intelligence or AI) take over our jobs – and not just mundane routine ones. The rumor is that doctors and lawyers also have a lot to fear about their place in the future world. Like most technologies, AI can provide positive benefits and negative consequences depending on the specific design, purpose and implementation. Two good books on this topic are “Machines of Loving Grace” by John Markoff and “Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford. Keep in mind that AI may not look like what you remember from the movies. Siri is AI, and even “Hello Barbie” incorporates the technology.

Virtual Reality

Videos are so last year. Marketing has expanded beyond social media and turned digital story telling into virtual reality. In November 2015, the New York Times gave subscribers a cardboard VR viewer (built by Google) along with an app that offers an immersive sensory experience when using a smartphone to view 360-degree films that range from artistic renditions to documentaries. I have to tell you I am enjoying it – it feels like I am right in the middle of the scene.

Bonus: Drones

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone! These unmanned flying objects have been proliferating rapidly, moving from the center of a political debate in a war context to become a catalyst for public discourse on the tensions between technological progress and personal privacy. In February of 2015, the FAA issued a set of rules and guidelines for the use of drones. Why is the FAA so concerned? The numbers, for one thing. The FAA estimates up to 7,500 commercial drones may be in use by 2018. Whether your company uses drones or your employees or clients use them around your business, it is important to understand certain safety, security, and privacy issues relating to them.

These are some of my thoughts about what we should be on the lookout for in 2016. I’m sure there may be some other technology that I did not get to, but whenever I do these kinds of “forecasts” I remember the following quote by Greg Satell in a Forbes article in 2014:

“The future isn’t what we thought it would be. We don’t walk around in silver suits, travel to colonies on Mars or drive in flying cars. Instead, we dress casual, take selfies and communicate in 140 characters.”

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     Deb, deb@tiouc.com

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