technology_imageUnstoppable march towards the future continues

Technology continues its unstoppable march towards the future. And whether we like it or not, it is dragging us and our businesses with it! Some technologies seem like technology for tech’s sake. However, some offer truly compelling benefits that means they shape progress.

Here we take a look at how some trends are likely to shape and influence the use of tech for smaller, expanding and mid-sized businesses in 2017.

1. Continuing growth of cloud-based services

The cloud is set to continue to play a highly influential role in how firms provision technology across the business.

  • Increased uptake of online, SaaS applications, including those for:
    • General admin such as accounting, CRM or productivity (Office 365)
    • Line-of-business (LoB) – sector specific applications – such as recruitment, marketing or CAD
  • Growth in data centre based hosted server solutions
    • Computing capability delivered from a data centre and eliminating the requirement for on-premise server infrastructure
    • There are many flavours of this – public cloud, private cloud and Hosted Desktop are the three main ones likely to suit the needs of the majority of businesses

2. Increasing commoditisation of Managed Services

Increasing growth of the cloud is likely to fuel an increase in the numbers of Managed Services Providers. Consequently it is likely that we’ll see some commoditisation in the SME managed services market. Inevitably, a more competitive operating environment will lead to price being used as a differentiator.

Opting for business-critical Managed Services from providers that choose to compete on price is a business decision that invites risk. To achieve the lowest price points, some or all of these factors may mean poorer levels of service from those offering cheap prices.

  • Economy of scale
  • Margins pared to the bone
  • Over commitment
  • Under resourcing

Technology change may be an irresistible force, but the concept of value remains an immovable object: You get what you pay for.

3. Solo IT Managers and small IT teams become more strategic

We are likely to see IT managers and teams in smaller, expanding and mid-sized businesses continuing to develop a more strategic outlook. The logic supporting this includes:

  • Uncertainty from political and economic turmoil is causing companies to defer B2B investment decisions and generally slowing the tempo of business
  • Increased competition for diminishing numbers of deals increases the quest for competitive advantage
  • One route to competitive advantage is reducing cost by adopting cloud solutions and outsourced support to strip out inefficiency
  • This causes a reduction of the reactive workload on IT managers and teams, enabling them to pursue more proactive work streams
  • IT managers and teams focus on planning and strategy to leverage technology so that it better supports the execution of the firm’s business strategy

4. Increasing IT security threat from cyber attacks

The threat from cyber-crime, including the use of ransomware to commit blackmail, and phishing to obtain PII for the purposes of fraud, is likely to dominate the IT security agenda. Hacking to steal IP and customer data also poses a significant risk which needs to be stoically defended.

IT security best practice defines the behaviours and methodologies for deploying and using technology safely. For practitioners and users this means:

  • IT departments
    • Competent configuration and management of firewalls, anti-virus, email scanning, and software updates and patching
  • Managed Services Providers
    • Need to meet ISO 27001, the quality standard for information security
  • All users
    • Avoid unsafe behaviour, especially when using email and websites

5. Internet of Things in the office

The consumer wave of Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets and home automation has subsided a little. Now we’ve got over our ‘whatever will they think of next’ reaction, perhaps it’s time for this type of technology to become properly assimilated within the day-to-day business environment.

Printers and photocopiers have been connectable for years now. Smart IoT connected watercoolers, coffee machines and shredders mean devices can tell us when they require maintenance, filling and emptying, or where they are when they get purloined! Essentially, we are at the start of an era where asset management of anything owned by the business is going to become a lot easier.

6. Artificial Intelligence digital assistants

Who started it first? Voice recognition software for transcription, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, has been around for nearly two decades. Combining voice recognition with Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings about the ability for a computing device to understand voice commands and have it respond with a desired action.

Apple Siri… Microsoft Cortana… Amazon Alexa… and Google Assistant are the main contenders lining up to see who can make the most inroads into enhancing desktop productivity through voice control. Which one are you going to choose?

7. Autonomous machines

Some say the current era of ‘smart’ devices is over. This is because a new era is coming. The next-generation of smart devices are characterised by some commentators as cognitive and sentient – able to learn and think for themselves.
This may be overstating their capability somewhat. However, some believe that fully autonomous machines such as delivery drones are likely to start deployment, and the first level-3 autonomous vehicle – a vehicle that is able to fully take over from the driver, will launch – both in 2017.

From these advances there are some implications for smaller, expanding and mid-sized businesses. New companies will be created from exploiting opportunities. Some existing firms are going to have to contend with the disruptive forces that are unleashed. And other companies will fail…

Get more out of business technology in 2017 with Paralogic

To see how Paralogic could help you get more value out of business technology in 2017, simply get in touch today. Simply fill in the form or call us on 01844 293 330.

Click here for our blog ‘7 point check: Planning Xmas and New Year IT housekeeping and review activities’.




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