Blurring boundaries: What to expect from tech in 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, we have seen many developments in technology this year that have significantly impacted both businesses and individuals.

2016 is set to be another year of dramatic and fast-paced change, where business and technology come even closer to together.

Data analytics will plug the productivity gap

2015 was the year the UK woke up to the productivity gap; although we have high levels of employment, the stark reality is we produce 30 per cent less per hour than workers in Germany, the US and France. However, the UK is a world leader in Data Science and its appliance to Big Data. Furthermore, we are primarily a service economy; exporting our services accounts for more than a third of GDP, so improving services has a proportionately bigger benefit to the UK economy.

Data-driven decisions are now the answer to improved services and productivity. Decisions that can be made faster and more accurately because of data analytics are better, and can ultimately impact a business’s bottom line. When the insights garnered from the data are then visualised, it makes it easier for business leaders to understand (without having to become data analysts themselves) and enables them to act upon these insights with immediacy.

For example, financial services can get a better price for their trade, and hospitality can deliver a better service for the clientele. All service sectors benefit from data science, and this will help close the UK’s productivity gap, speeding up operations.

Widespread adoption of in-memory computing

As Gartner predicted, in-memory computing will become a commodity. This is due to the continued fall in price of memory and the advances made in memory technology, which allows companies to leverage its full potential; digestible, visual data results can now be delivered in real-time. The speed at which results are obtained is crucial, otherwise executives will be making decisions using out-of-date information

The capability of in-memory computing should not be underestimated. Its defining factor is its ability to crunch and process consistently growing mountains of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data in real-time. Real-time operations are helping businesses to improve relationships with their customers significantly, generate add-on sales to price based on demand, and enable marketing teams to make quick-fire amendments to sales campaigns in response to current trends, such as the weather, or customer feedback.

In-memory computing also creates an environment where business management and technology can become synonymous with each other. It will no longer be on the periphery of IT – it will be integral to the business.

Solutions-as-a-Service

Solutions-as-a-Service has been building momentum throughout 2015 and IT managers are increasingly seeing the success that early adopters have been enjoying. Companies have been struggling to plug the skills gap, particularly for data analytics. IT managers now see SaaS as a legitimate solution to the problem and are seeking to make use of the benefits it has to offer.

Public clouds will be a key driver, as we’ll see more SaaS offerings being made available for a better price. Public clouds enable departments to be much more agile and adopt new solutions more easily and deploy on-demand. This will lead to a shift in the relationship between the IT department and the business.

Apps become the primary channel

According to Ofcom’s recent Communications Data Report, 2015 was the year the smartphone became the most popular device for getting online. App usage accounts for 52 per cent of the time spent online. However, small and medium sized businesses are behind the curve and most of them still approach customer communication in the same way they did ten years ago – by website and by emails. They have yet to grasp the full power of potential customers’ mobile devices.

For bricks-and-mortar retailers the opportunity with apps is that they can extend a customer’s shopping experience beyond their walls and enhance it in-store with interactive displays and targeted offers. For restaurants and cafes, it gives them then opportunity to reward loyalty as well as benefits such as ordering and paying via your phone. However, the real benefits of these apps will come from the data they reap. Analysing the data in real-time using the latest analytic database technology allows businesses to increase their understanding of their customers. What makes a customer return? What causes them to stick around? What closes a sale?

With all that, 2016 will be another interesting year as we will see business success increasingly relying on organisations’ ability to assimilate technology into their processes and strategies. If your tech isn’t up-to-speed next year, then your business won’t be either.

Mathias Golombek, CTO, EXASOL

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