How data growth is set to shape everything that lies ahead for 2016

A vast amount of data now flows through businesses and across the Internet, in many forms and from many sources. While this unprecedented volume of information will unlock the potential for innovative new technologies and business models next year, it will also bring about a need for more robust security and protective measures.

Welcome to the Unicorn Club

Informed and enabled by the abundance and variety of data now available, digital disruption will continue to challenge and change traditional business models. As a result, we’ll see the ranks of the Unicorn Club swelling with even more billion-dollar start-ups next year.

As with the dot.com bubble of the late nineties, or the early days of eCommerce, we’ll see widening culture and age gaps between these new businesses and the more traditional models. Indeed, we’ve already started to see CEOs of established businesses coming together to discuss how to survive this potential disruption.

However, unlike during the high street wars between supermarket giants and smaller independent retailers, these start-ups shouldn’t be viewed as threats to be crushed. Instead, the older, more traditional businesses should embrace their new way of doing things, learning from them, and perhaps even acquiring them for the skills and innovation they offer.

More robots

While it’s unlikely that Terminator-style robots will be roaming the streets, it’s almost certain that we’ll see our first self-driving cars on the road next year, and we should expect a growth in the kind of automated intelligence that helps us in our work and personal lives.

For some, this may be a robotic vacuum cleaner, while for others it could be sophisticated software solutions designed to help them manage complex tasks and analytics. With wearables at the top of many people’s Christmas lists, and the continuing widespread adoption of tablets and smartphones, we’re not far from what Gartner refers to as a “device mesh”, where all devices operate in conjunction with each other, rather than in isolation.

The feedback and insight that these devices offer into our daily lives should help us to better manage our health, our work/life balance, and our domestic routines. And, as these devices become ever more intrinsically involved with every aspect of our lives, we’ll finally reach the point where we’re always online – although whether or not that’s a good thing is something we’ll probably look back on in 12 months’ time.

Security architecture

The constant slew of headlines this year has proven beyond any doubt that the issue of security – both corporate and private – is becoming more important each day.

Businesses and individuals are increasingly being held liable for corporate data breaches, while a rise in identity theft and malicious threats has led to consumers and business-people alike focusing on more effective ways of protecting their privacy and regaining control over the information they hold and that is held by others.

With so many attack vectors now available to cyber-criminals, and more being realised all the time, technology appears to be at the heart of the problem. But it should also be the solution.

2016 will be the year in which serious consideration must be given to the security capacity of everything we build or produce. Security now needs to be built in from the start – it can no longer be treated as an add-on or afterthought.

Information of Everything

Big data is here to stay. As the tidal wave of information continues to grow, businesses are beginning to rely less on instinct and more on the analysis of data to inform their decisions and discussions.

Two of this year’s most successfully disruptive companies perfectly illustrate the value that can be derived from this data: Uber doesn’t own a single car, for example, and Airbnb doesn’t own one hotel.

The challenge next year will lie in making sense of the wealth of information available in its myriad different forms, received from different channels, devices and physical touchpoints. A shift in focus is needed from just managing the sheer volume of data to which businesses are exposed, to better handling it by analysing and using its different aspects in order to derive the best possible insights and value.

If businesses are to remain competitive, they’ll need to be more data-centric than ever before, creating disruptive strategies from the chaos and opportunities offered by big data.

Time waits for no-one

Our lives, our jobs, and the industries in which we work are changing so fast the future is becoming ever harder to predict. The only way we can hope to keep up with this rate of change is by ensuring we optimise our time.

Can this app help me lost weight more quickly? Will this automated car make my journey home shorter? Will this software speed up my products’ journey to market?

Thinking about how we use time to our best advantage is increasingly becoming a fundamental part of everything we do.

More and more we’ll find ourselves looking to devices, software and information to keep us up to speed, move past the competition, and make more time for us to spend in the way that we want. The more dependent we become on time management tools, the more suited these products and services will start to become to this way of thinking.

2016 will be a year of fast-moving change and innovation which will generate data and be fed by it. Those businesses that are able to analyse and manage this data will be the ones that will best benefit from the opportunities it offers, and protect themselves against the challenges it represents.

Erasmus Holm, EMEA Marketing Director, Stibo Systems

Image Credit: Shutterstock/alexskopje