It has been widely reported that we should expect more than seven billion people and businesses, and at least 30 billion devices, to be connected to the Internet by 2020, so it should be of no surprise that this tech-driven economy is here to stay. Technology has become everyone's business as we enter the next stage of this digital transformation where even your next toaster or refrigerator will connect to the Internet.
A rapidly increasing number of companies are learning the importance of identifying Hard Trends that are both predictable and measurable. This gives companies a competitive edge in a world where thriving on change has become necessity. Pandora's box is officially open as users not only bring their own devices but wear them too, leaving the traditional IT department with little chance of getting it all back in the box.
Many of the themes that we have witnessed here in 2015 will gather pace next year and continue to enable or disrupt your business depending on how prepared they are for the Hard Trends on the horizon. In this article, I'll highlight ten technology-driven Hard Trends that I would like you to spend time thinking about and better yet, act on.
1. The Continuing Rise of Shadow IT
Doubters only need to look at the warning signs learned from Slack that became the fastest-growing workplace software ever this year and, for the most part, this was achieved under IT's radar. Users quickly grew tired of working with the familiar but increasingly dated office tools, and when the tech guys failed to lead the way, they found their own solution to collaborate and share documents in real time leading to a reduction in emails and inefficient and often pointless meetings.
2. Virtual Reality Gets Real
It will be fascinating to see just how quickly consumers adopt this latest technology and begin to embrace consumption of VR content, but make no mistake that for better or worse, this will be a game changer as creative applications rapidly multiply.
3. Retail Embraces Location Awareness
Early lessons have been learned, and it's time for Indoor mapping and beacon technology to bring retailers into the 21st century to help the monitoring footfall, dwell time and empower stores to adapt quickly to spending patterns in real time.
4. Cashless Society Moves a Step Closer As Consumers Embrace Mobile and Contactless Payments
In 2016, Millennials around the world will increasingly find their affiliation with paper money and coins incredibly quaint as they discover the safety they can have using tokenization and biometric identification, as used by Apple Pay, Google and many others, to conduct a transaction without having to share credit card numbers and personal information during a transaction. Think of it this way; by eliminating the transfer of credit card information, there is nothing for a hacker to steal.
5. Cognitive Computing Will Increasingly be Used To Extract Value From Big Data
Machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning are just a few of these technologies that will finally allow companies to make sense of the ever-growing variety, and velocity of big data.
6. The Internet of Things (IoT) Gets Personal
It's only a matter of time before those wearable devices pave a way to provide our doctors with a data export containing our daily calorie intake, exercise, resting heart rate and sleep patterns with just a push of a button. The technology is already here, but 2016 will be the year we realize the power hidden in our data.
7. Security and Privacy Awareness Takes Center Stage
Although, the last few years have felt like a gold rush or smash and grab for personal data, we can expect increased use of multiple biometrics to operate our mobile devices as well as much tougher and needed regulation to enforce businesses to act more responsibly.
8. Drones Become Practical
9. Online Influencers Become the New Celebrities
New Media has given birth to a new method of storytelling and collaboration and 2016 will see the continual migration of digital tribes who are forming their own niche online communities.
10. The Personalized Experience
2016 will be the wakeup call for any business that wants to reach out and engage with their customers or even just get their attention. Our expectations to be treated as the unique individual that we are will mean that marketers will have to up their game or watch helplessly as their customers tune out of those hard sell generic ad campaigns.
In much the same way that the Industrial Revolution completely changed the landscape a few hundred years ago, it feels that we are caught right in the middle of a digital transformation and those that fail to adapt, and better yet anticipate, will increasingly lose relevance along with market share, and in many cases disappear forever.
The only question that remains is what Hard Trends will you be following to ensure that your business adapts, evolves and overcomes the challenges along the way in 2016?