At DC Networks we watch the development of new technology keenly. Mostly because we each have an innate love for it, but also because we are dedicated to providing first class, cutting edge IT solutions to real business problems. Keeping an eye on trends helps us to pre-empt changes and meet any security issues head on.

Here are some of our business IT predictions over the rest of 2019:

1. Artificial Intelligence

Of course we’ve all heard the scare stories that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be running our organisations within a decade, but actually, the average mid-sized Irish business already has plenty of experience with AI – just not in the workplace.

Every time you use Alexa or Siri you’re engaging with AI. This is the most likely route that we think AI will take into the business world – digital assistants, activated by voice commands, are starting to become more commonplace and it’s a great first step for employees to begin to master voice activated apps as business tools.

You can already link Alexa with your Office 365 calendar and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next, and meeting the security issues that will arrive as a result!

“Alexa, send an email to Tom in accounting….”

2. Digital money movement

Google, Facebook and Amazon are all said to be working on banking apps and Apple have just released the Apple Card – a new credit card designed for iPhone. It’s possible that within just 5 years there could be a real shake-up in traditional banking. Skeptical? Paypal has already changed how we buy, sell and save… it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a world where more and more of these big companies are offering their own payment services.

While Facebook and Google have been trying to break into financial services with the likes of Pay by Messenger and Google Wallet, they haven’t had much success. But with the introduction of Open Banking earlier this year, that seems likely to change.

Imagine being able to have a customer WhatsApp you their payment. No logging into bank accounts or trying to remember details. Instant, no-fuss payments.

Companies like Revolut and Monzo have billion-dollar valuations already, after just a few years in operation. Digital banking is set to have more than 2 billion users by 2020 and it’s likely that by 2025, people will see their phone as their wallet.

Moving your business to digital payments will be essential if this is the case, and understanding how the online banking world works will help your business grasp the new world of digital payments.

3. Hybrid Cloud

This one might be less glamorous than AI or digital banking but it’s going nowhere.

A hybrid cloud solution uses a combination of public cloud, like Microsoft or AWS, and your on-site ‘private cloud’, i.e. your internal business network, or ‘that server sitting in the corner’.

More and more businesses are choosing hybrid cloud solutions to get the best of both worlds when deploying their business infrastructure. They are giving businesses more data deployment options and greater flexibility as needs and costs change.

Many businesses have a real fear of giving third-party datacenters access to the entirety of their data and a hybrid cloud approach lets them gain the flexibility and power of the public cloud for non-sensitive tasks, while keeping business-critical applications and data on-premises, behind a company firewall.

Expect to see hybrid cloud uptake increase again this year, and most likely for years to come.

4. Blockchain, for highly scrutinised businesses

Haven’t heard of Blockchain yet? Blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. It has created the backbone of a new type of internet.

It was originally devised for Bitcoin but the business and tech communities have found other uses for it.

In particular, blockchain is becoming of particular interest for businesses where quality assurance is an issue, where there is regular media scrutiny, or where there is a substantial amount of customer reviews.

Blockchain essentially is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified.

One example of its application is that it can help ensure complete transparency in each part of a business’s supply chain.

  • Every element of a process from raw material to finished product delivery can be tracked.
  • Failures in a system can be pinpointed rapidly.
  • Product recalls can take place almost instantly and applied with specificity.
  • Businesses can learn from errors within hours rather than days, weeks or months.

Blockchain isn’t for everyone (yet!), but for businesses with food or luxury goods as part of their offerings, it’s likely to prove very influential over the coming years, if not in 2019.

5. Remote working

A lot has been made of the meteoric rise of remote working over the past few years. We expect this rise to continue in 2019 and long into the future as more businesses across the country adopt cloud solutions and their staff become more mobile.

Research is now indicating that remote workers will either equal or surpass fixed office locations by 2025. As with all significant trends, we are now starting to see some of the downsides emerge, including:

  1. The mental health of workers (21% of remote workers indicate that they experience loneliness)
  2. Cybersecurity risks associated with mobile data
  3. Trust issues between companies and their remote contingent
  4. Training and education

Businesses across the country are starting to address these concerns. Training packs for remote staff members are becoming the norm to help them to cope with the isolation that can sometimes come with remote working. In-the-office days will start becoming more popular, giving remote workers the opportunity to come into the office once a week and build a sense of community.

Of course, one of the biggest issues is for IT departments and IT service providers. With your data now mobile and accessible from wherever your remote workers decide to set up shop for the day, the risk of IT security breaches increase. Cybersecurity standards can become lax without the right knowledge and supervision and companies must be ready to defend against this entirely new area of cyber risk.

For tips on cybersecurity for remote workers, check out our Cyber Security Tip Sheet for Employees, it includes a section specifically for remote workers.

Cyber Security Tip Sheet For Employees