Embracing disruption: The tech landscape in 2016

From fashion to the manufacturing factory floor, technology-driven disruption has been a feature of business life in 2015. I’ve got out my crystal ball here to try to gauge some of the key technology themes that we think will continue to challenge organisations trying to serve increasingly digital staff and customers in 2016.

Mobile fragmentation will make serving mobile users harder

In the UK, around 40 per cent of people have iPhones, 50 per cent use one of a thousand different flavours of Android devices, and the remaining 10 per cent use a mix of Windows Phone, Blackberry and other mobile platforms. Clearly, the mobile device market is more fragmented than ever, and this is having an impact on how we deliver business apps to mobile platforms. Firms lack the resources to support users with native apps on each of these operating systems, and as a result can only support the most popular platforms. The only unifying solution for this is apps written in HTML5 and delivered via the web to any device, so we’ll see these types of app grow in popularity in 2016.

Data sovereignty and protection regulation will fail to safeguard data

New European and global regulation around data protection is making it more important than ever to know where your data is and be able to secure it. At the same time, it is harder than ever to secure this data, especially if it has ‘dis-integrated’ beyond a core system to a cluster of cloud platforms. For example, if you have four apps hosted in four different databases in four different countries, you quickly lose control of where that data is and who has access to it

Cloud will cause ‘dis-integration’ of business systems

The increasing proliferation of disruptive cloud apps being used by businesses, runs the risk of a lot of data and processes being shunted back into silos. CFOs (concerned with risk) and CIOs (concerned with security and control) will be hard pressed to integrate all of these disparate cloud systems. At the same time, businesses will continue to use cloud technologies to give agility and scale to their systems and processes to cope with shifting demand.

Disruptive innovation is going to make it harder to pick your technology partners

While technology incumbents offer businesses the safest bet, venture backed start-ups are offering attractive new solutions. However, how much can a business take a 7 – 10 year bet on a relatively unknown business platform from these types of providers? The question is whether you’re comfortable leaving yourself at the mercy of a third party vendor, or whether you’d rather look to professional service partners to help you deploy and tailor your business management applications. The latter is going to become even more prominent in 2016 as businesses look to partners to help bridge the gap between what the customer knows they want and what they actually need.

Relational databases will continue their decline

Relational databases continue to be superseded by a wide choice of database technologies. While it is a good thing that we’re becoming less reliant on a single type database, we’re going to see lots of technology ‘arguments’ as we try to get new and legacy systems to talk to each other. 2016 won’t be the year relational databases die, but their decline will continue as other technologies continue to gain ground.

The reality of business life will continue to be challenging in 2016, and technology change and innovation has gone from being a novelty handled by IT to being a core part of the strategic planning of a business. Whilst not everyone can be an expert, having some insight into some of the key trends that impact your business has gone from ‘nice to have’ to an essential requirement for the leadership of a business.

Peter Dickinson, CEO, Greentree