6 Technology trends to watch in 2016

Each year the technology industry pins its goals on a particular advancement blowing up and becoming ubiquitous. Previous years have been the time the Internet of Things, big data or cloud technology would be found everywhere.

Now, if you don’t use data to inform decisions or if you’re not in the cloud, the big question is what rock have you been hiding under?

With 2016 already here, it’s not just a particular technology that will become omnipresent and drive the marketing campaigns of tech companies. Instead, there are a number of elements which I think will drive the sector over the next 12 months.

1. Supply chains will be reinvented. If you think back to the 90s, Dell reinvented just-in-time manufacturing so it could sell computers directly to consumers. It was their competitive edge. Today, in this new era of services, Lyft and Uber have reinvented the supply chain around public transportation. Postmates is also reinventing the on-demand supply chain. These companies are all connecting consumers to what they want, faster, with less overhead. Technology plays a huge role in that development.

2. We’re at version 1.0 of on-demand everything. We’ll see more industries being disrupted by companies that can provide a product or service, seemingly instantly. The leading indicator around this is Netflix but we’ll start to see the idea spread further into financial services, especially around loan approvals and the evolution of micro-lending and peer-to-peer payments.

3. Sustainable technology. Elon Musk’s wildly successful Tesla and SolarCity projects are driving the idea that sustainable technology can also be commercially viable. Increasingly, companies are being built from the ground up as social enterprises where their purpose is to build technology which not only enhances our lives but also the environment. It’s also starting to shift consumer behaviour with more people demanding technology be more sustainable.

4. SaaS is switching to autopilot. We’re seeing very specific workflows automated by cloud companies. While we’re automating accounting and financial management, Workday is streamlining HR, Marketo is automating marketing processes, and there are hundreds of other bits of software evolving to take the pain out of everyday processes. Automation is becoming so mainstream programmers are automating parts of their own life, like making coffee or communicating with their partner.

Decisions around almost everything will be automated in a way we can barely imagine today. In five years time you will look back at the thing you needed to spend a lot of time on today and won’t be able to believe how long it took you.

5. Data you can actually use. We’ve been talking about the power of big data for years now and finally we’re at a point where it’s not just a bunch of numbers that form fancy reports. Companies like Tableau are transforming the way data is used and SaaS companies are starting to put the mass of data they have to work for their customers. We’re doing it to help small businesses gain access to capital in Australia. The tech industry is transitioning from a world of data storage and insight to one where big data drives actionable insights.

Over the next year, the most useful thing about big data for small business is how it can be used to help shortcut repetitive tasks, identify trends and predict responses.

6. Security isn’t just the IT’s department’s responsibility anymore. This is a big theme you’ll see roll out over 2016, especially after several high-profile companies were brought to their knees by hackers this year. As technology companies have grown up, so have the mechanisms out there used to breach their walls, demonstrating that even when there are huge security budgets in play, no one is immune to these vulnerabilities. As our lives become increasingly run by the Internet, the threat of our information landing in the wrong hands rises which means it’s up to every individual to be responsible for both their own, and their company’s security.

The next 12 months look really exciting. It’s a time where much of the groundwork the technology industry has laid over the last few years will really come into its own. We’re seeing machine learning start to make a huge difference in how we use technology everyday, we’re seeing data drive actions and entire operations and we’re seeing new business models commercialize.

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