In today’s digitally enabled world where technology and connectivity are consumed on greater levels than ever before, the IT infrastructure and ecosystems that support this must continually evolve to keep up.

For any industry moving at such a speed there are always challenges, developments, errors and success stories that make the headlines.  With a new year and a decade freshly upon us we look at what the key predictions and forecasts for the year ahead, and beyond, are.

Key prediction trends 2020

The most quoted trends predicted to affect the technology landscape are……

  1. Ever increasing demand for speed
  2. A heightened demand for data privacy
  3. Increasing cyber security threats
  4. Adoption of complex AI technology
  5. Sustainability as a business objective

Lets look at each in more detail to understand what they really mean.

 

1. Culture of immediacy

The introduction and acceleration, of technology into mainstream society; such as websites, mobile phones, social media, apps etc, from the mid 1990’s / early 2000’s onwards has seen society at large have a greater sense of urgency.  Bringing with it a faster pace of life and for many a less patient outlook.  But it would seem that the culture of immediacy has only just begun.

Not only does the proliferation of technology mean we want things “Now Now Now” to quote futurologist Tom Cheesewright (1) but we are set to see an “overall trend for everything to accelerate”, a trend that will take affect both in our work/business and home/personal lives.

To keep up with these demands, IT infrastructure needs to be scalable and agile whilst leveraging the best of modern technological developments. Ensuring it can maintain service at required levels whilst running more complex applications.

Underpinning this delivery, and therefore directly impacting on the culture of immediacy, is a resilient and robust connectivity network. Simon Wilkinson, CEO of Mobica (2) states: “While the landscape of every industry is rapidly changing, where processes and innovations are evolving fastest, technology is inevitably the driving force. 2020 isn’t just marking the start of a new decade, it’s the beginning of a new era – one enhanced by greater levels of connectivity.”

 

2. Continued focus around data privacy

With less than 2 years since the introduction of GDPR, businesses could be forgiven for thinking that data regulations and privacy update plans are a thing of the past, or at least for a little while. Not so! In fact, any business making this assumption would be following a very dangerous path.  Data privacy was described as a defining feature of 2019 with an increased focus around the world (3), this is a trend that many say is set to continue well into 2020 and beyond.

The focus is said to be so critical for businesses that a new buzzword has emerged ‘Data Graveyard’ (4) a term used to describe the state companies are in when they talk about the quantity and quality of data which is stored on their servers.  And it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that graveyard doesn’t paint the most positive of pictures.

This increased focus of data being under the microscopic lens means there is an increased need for businesses to continually manage and control their data privacy strategy in order to meet customer demands.  Data privacy is not only a hygiene factor in business process but requires continual improvement.

So, what is the continued driving force behind increased data protection and privacy? For a start there is the concern over regulatory fines, privacy risks and reputational damage, but there is a growing sense of a global focus around data protection.  According to Gartner “By 2022, half of our planets population will have its personal information covered under local privacy regulations in line with the GDPR”.

Furthermore, there is a very close link between trends 2 and 3, data privacy needs to be continually enhanced and evolve in the prevention of and as a response to increased cyber security….

 

3. Heightened need for robust cyber security

Trend 3 in our top 5 review is a prediction that has already proved accurate, as only a week into the new year we saw news breaking of a high-profile £4.6M ransom attack against global foreign exchange company Travelex.  This shows all too readily that cyber security is on the rise, and as night follows day the resulting impact is that businesses need to be ever conscious of the affect these increasingly sophisticated attacks have upon business productivity, bottoms line revenue and brand reputation.

Quoted in Prolific Norths senior leaders predictions ‘The next big thing for 2020’ M247 CEO, Jenny Davies said “As the increasing frequency, sophistication and complexity of cyber-attacks are set to continue, the need for robust security and recovery solutions is only going to become more important. Businesses need to regularly assess the quality of the systems they have in place to monitor these attacks before or as they happen, as greater visibility allows them to act fast to get systems and processes up and running as quickly as possible.”

So, what do businesses need to consider in the wake of these advancing cyber security threat? Businesses require improved data management capabilities to stay protected against ever evolving threats, as well as increased access to cloud based services and solutions, and secure private networks.  For other businesses they may want to consider migrating to managed services to ensure a speedy return to normal should the worst happen.

 

4. 2020: AI finally takes off?

Its cited that after many years of being talked about, the 20’s is set to be the era where we see complex Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) being adopted. From more sophisticated chat bots, voice recognition software, an expansion of home-based smart devices into the business environment, mobile-enabled secure cryptocurrency exchange and eventually to self-driving vehicles and beyond.  But after being hyped for so long, the more curious will ask, why now?

Liam Batemen, CTO of Silverchip calls out AI as his big prediction for 2020 stating (2): “It’s been said for many years but 2020 looks like the year that AI will make it mainstream, cloud services like AWS and Azure are starting to offer more ‘AI as service’ and this will open up the technology to a larger audience. 5G launched in mid-2019 and we should see the availability exponentially increase and with average speeds of up to 240Mbps, we can start to push more complex content to more devices, expect higher-quality graphics, lower latency interactions and an increased focus on speed and UX to match consumer expectations.”

So it appears that the simple answer is that the growth in cloud based services are being referenced as one of the key drivers to AI / ML’s rise to glory,  as these enable and support the complex technology required in the processing of large sets of sensitive data, in real-time and across multiple sources.  This coupled with the introduction and adoption of 5G meaning stronger, fast, more resilient connectivity is finally set to enable the adoption of what has been a much talked about emerging trend, into reality.

 

5. Sustainability 

It no surprise to see sustainability in the key trends of the year, as we witness every day the rising cost and toll on the environment of our modern-day world. To that end offsetting emissions, considering global footprint and environmentally friendly alternatives are just a few of the phrases that are now commonplace in everyday conversations and thinking – not just round the dinner table or in social settings but within the boardroom too.  As these factors have become primary considerations in decision making of individuals and businesses alike.

In a report commissioned by Equinix they found that 42% of IT decision makers now consider a company’s green credentials during their buying decision process. (5)

Sustainability is therefore set to become an initiative world-wide.  Companies who seek ways to develop modern-day digitally enabled and future proofed businesses; whilst also leading the way on innovation when it comes to environmental responsibility and sustainability (5) will be the ones that fare well.  John Kehoe, CEO of Media Agency Group was quoted: “Sustainability… brand safety… consumer trust… carbon footprint… these are all hot topics from 2019, but in 2020, they now cannot be ignored if a brand is to survive and grow.” (2)

But how do businesses achieve this you may ask?  According to Futureearth.org it is possible to use technology and digital transformation as a force of good: “digital technologies have the potential to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing societal problems, such as climate change, biodiversity, food insecurity, public health risks, and equity. The digital revolution has the potential to help transform society to a more sustainable and equitable world but only if there is a conscious effort to steer it in that direction.” (7)

And leading the way in the fight for sustainability is Microsoft, who announced their carbon negative pledge to not only be carbon neutral by 2030, but going one step further and removing more carbon from the environment than it emits. (8)  Demonstrating that this prediction is already a key focus for large global organisations in the years ahead, and starting their action plans now.

 

References:

1.   Tom Cheesewright: Five trends for the 2020s (tomcheesewright.com/five-trends-for-the-2020s)

2. Prolific North: The next big thing for 2020: Senior industry experts give their predictions (www.prolificnorth.co.uk/news/other-media-news/2019/12/next-big-thing-2020-senior-industry-experts-give-their-predictions)

3. Netwrix: Data Privacy Trends, Issues and Concerns for 2020 (blog.netwrix.com/2019/11/05/data-privacy-trends-issues-and-concerns-for-2020/)

4. dataprivacymanager.net: 7 Data privacy trends for 2020 (dataprivacymanager.net/7-data-privacy-trends-for-2020/)

3. Gartner: Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2020 and beyond (www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-22-10-gartner-unveils-top-predictions-for-it-organizations-and-users-in-2020-and-beyond)

4. The Next Web: 5 cybersecurity trends that will dominate 2020, according to experts (thenextweb.com/readme/2020/01/08/5-cybersecurity-trends-that-will-dominate-2020-according-to-experts/)

5. Equinix: Top 5 technology trends to impact the digital infrastructure landscape in 2020 (www.forbesmiddleeast.com/innovation/technology/top-5-technology-trends-to-impact-the-digital-infrastructure-landscape-in-2020)

6. The World Economic Forum: Here’s how to use digital transformation to create a more sustainable world (www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/digital-transformation-more-sustainable-world/)

7. Futureearth.org: Sustainability in the digital age (futureearth.org/initiatives/other-initiatives/sustainability-in-the-digital-age/)

8. BBC: Microsoft makes ‘carbon negative pledge (www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51133811)

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