Tech Outlook for 2016

Tech Outlook for 2016

If technology isn't already one of your top 3 business drivers it will be in 2016. 2016 is shaping up to be a great year in technology. Cloud and security continue to be overall themes while the convergence of technology and the Internet of Things might start to become a reality this year. Let's break down what this means for your business and what you should look out for.

Security

Security in 2016 will continue to be a major theme. However, security threats are changing. Most of the hacks that we know about and experience are driven by profit. Profitable hacks include credit card and identity theft, as well as something called “ransomware”. Ransomware works by encrypting your data and holding it hostage until payment is received. While these profitable hacks will continue, we will see a new type of hacking - something called “moral-based hacking”.

“Moral-based hacking” has been a part of the hacking culture for a long time. Good vs. Evil. Hacking the “bad guys” to “bring them to justice” or expose what’s been going on behind closed doors. These types of hacks will increase in number, severity and frequency. We expect to see a string of high profile attacks and a major increase in small businesses that get hit.

Small businesses account for the bulk of economic activity in this country. Any one business is a small target, but as a whole, we are all targets. Small business systems are easier to break into and can be exploited as part of a larger attack. Protecting your digital assets should be top priority this year. To help you ensure you are protected, look for our many security based articles and tips this coming year.

Cloud

Cloud has been a recurring theme in the last few years. If you're business doesn't have at least part of your infrastructure on the cloud, then you're the exception not the rule.

  • Email: Systems like Gmail and Hosted Exchange are the most common cloud based systems that are used every day. They offer major advantages both strategic and economic over the "old way" of doing email.
  • Telephony: Phone systems are another business system to go to the cloud using VOIP technology. VOIP provides the benefits of free long distance, easy administration and the ability to answer calls anywhere.
  • Storage: Many businesses are still storing their company’s data in-house. However, an in-house file server is making less and less sense (or cents) every day. Spending 5-10K on an in-house small business file server used to be a no-brainer. We now have services like Dropbox or private cloud file sharing that are turning the philosophy of in-house storage on it's head. With a low monthly cost and no capital investment, small business can provide a host of features that work in a distributed environment so users can work on their phones, desktops and from home seamlessly.

With all of the benefits that the cloud can bring, security still remains a priority - as it does everywhere. Ensure when choosing a cloud solution that you select a provider with a high level of protection. In a few short years, every business will be mostly on the cloud. If you plan to be one of those businesses, contact us and we can ease your transition.

Internet

With most of your business in the cloud, the speed and reliability of Internet connectivity has become paramount. For most customers, if there's no Internet, there's no business and there's no money. It's that simple. You need Internet to operate. In 2016 Internet and redundancy will become even more important. Your Internet will go down at some point during the year. And when it does, it will be painful. If you don't already have a failover Internet connection, 2016 is the year to get one. Despite our advanced technological world, it's still rarefied air to have two disparate Internet technologies like Cable vs. DSL both high speed and both available to the average business. Most customers are still subject to one technology like DSL or cable being the primary in their area with the secondary options being slow and/or expensive.

New connectivity options are coming and they are game changing. Bell Canada has already started to offer GIGABIT Internet (https://www.bell.ca/Gigabit-Fibe-Internet) connectivity which is 10-100 times faster than most businesses are connected today. Rogers, Cogeco and Shaw will also dramatically increase the connectivity speeds they provide. There are also some incredible new technologies for connectivity that will change the game.

2016 will be a big year for LiFi - the evolution of WiFi - LiFi uses light to transmit data. How many light sources are around you right now? Imagine if each of those devices was also connected to the Internet at incredible speeds. Suddenly the Internet would be everywhere, at light speed. It's worth watching the videos at https://purelifi.com/. Professor Harald also did an incredible demonstration during a TED talk he gave. (https://www.ted.com/talks/harald_haas_a_breakthrough_new_kind_of_wireless_internet)

IoT (The Internet of Things)

This explosion in connectivity you can expect in 2016 and beyond will allow for a dramatic increase in smart devices. Everything from your coffee mug to your car keys will be Internet connected, digitally controlled and reporting data to you. As always, security is a big concern here as noted in a recent article we tweeted about https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/01/how-to-search-the-internet-of-things-for-photos-of-sleeping-babies/.

It's early days for connected "Internet of Things" devices still, however a theme is starting to emerge. In 2016 and beyond, you will have access to an unprecedented amount of data, at your fingertips. Real time location of items, vehicles, people, Temperature readings of your office, your warehouse, your vehicles, and even your cup of coffee. From wearable technology like FitBit or Smart Watches to roll up displays, holographic projection technology, and self driving cars data will be everywhere.

For small business this presents a major opportunity. The big boys of technology like Google and Apple have been operating on data for many years. Information is power. The combination of ubiquitous high speed access and connected devices will create a data explosion for small business. For the first time, you'll be able to see in real time where your business is and make better, more informed decisions and/or make course corrections much earlier in the process.

Google and Apple don't make decisions based on "feel" as is still common in small business. They operate on hard facts. If no data is available they run experiments to collect the data and then see where the information leads them. They see data in real time and they have built the world's most successful companies on it.

This power will be available to small business starting in 2016. It will start out as a real time dashboard of a few key parameters, but as devices become more connected and connectivity becomes more accessible, faster, more reliable and cheaper, a convergence of data will take place. "From a single pane of glass" you'll be able so see and control a great many things. The challenge will be sorting out what data is important when, and how to use that data to make your operation better.

We're already seeing this with smart home automation products taking off. Today you can turn your lights on or off and change the temperature using your phone. In 2016 and beyond, the power of information and control in real time will continue to accelerate bringing disparate systems together into a cohesive ecosystem.

We saw this most strongly in 2015 with the introduction and rise of the smartwatch. When you’re wearing a smartwatch you’re subtly being fed data about the world around you, texts, emails, facebook statuses etc., all with vibrations or quick glances that allow you to quickly filter the important and urgent from the unimportant but nice to know. Today you can have your phone, your computer and your smartwatch feeding you the appropriate information so you can succeed.

2016 and beyond will start to integrate all of the “things” around you. There’s already a faucet that glows different colours depending on the temperature. Imagine if your office desk vibrated when it was time to leave work (taking into account traffic on your usual route on Tuesdays) in order make it to your daughter’s soccer game on time. Or your suitcase notifying you on your smartwatch that it is over the weight limit, taking into account the restrictions for your specific flight the next morning. Or your fridge tracking your eating habits and automatically placing grocery delivery orders for the items it knows you need. The possibilities are endless. Every object in your life has the potential to be “smart” and contextually aware. Those objects working in unison to provide a cohesive experience is the future.

Technology is full of shiny new objects that all sound amazing. The 2016 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show https://www.techradar.com/us/news/world-of-tech/ces-2016-what-we-want-to-see-1288771 ended just a few weeks ago and introduced thousands of new and cool products. Most of those will end up just being “neat” products. A select few will go on to become useful tools that you can use in your business. Part of our role at Digital Fire is to sort through the ever more complex and evolving technology world and bring you the items that you can use to be more efficient and make money.

2016 will be an exciting year in technology. For a specific look at what 2016 can hold for your company, please get in touch with us. We look forward to hearing from you.