This time last year, we were looking ahead to 2017 and the developments and innovations we felt would be taking centre stage, while reflecting on the evolution of IT and the cloud during the 20 years since Cobweb was created in 1996.
This year, we’re considering the key areas to watch in 2018, while looking back at 2017’s developments – but, while we’re reflecting on those that have taken place across only one year this time, it was nevertheless a year that saw massive growth and advancement in many domains.
Some of my 2018 forecasts are new, while some predict a continuing focus on areas prevalent in 2017:
1. Business transformation: last year, my first prediction was that 2017 would see an increasing move to digital transformation. I am amending that slightly for 2018, to say that it will be business transformation enabled by digital solutions that will be a major focus for organisations in 2018.
2. Cloud adoption will continue to rise: again, another prediction from last year, and for 2018 with no revisions. Cloud adoption will continue to grow, as it has done over 2017. Microsoft, for example, now has 120 million users of Office 365 worldwide, representing a $20 billion revenue market.
3. Security: unfortunately, I was spot on with my thoughts about security for 2017, and security threats – ransomware, spear phishing, etc. – did indeed cause major disruption and problems across the world.
WannaCry hit in May, and according to reports had infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries within a day. Organisations were affected regardless of size, and included Spain’s Telefonica, FedEx, and a significant number of NHS departments here in the UK. June’s Petya served further to emphasise the importance of implementing appropriate measures to secure and protect identity, data, apps and devices. It’s essential, too, to remember that email remains the starting point for most malware attacks.
4. (AI) Artificial intelligence: featuring new on my list for 2018, AI, however, saw such steady advancement in 2017, I’m certain that this is only going to continue and to have a major impact – on business and home life – in 2018. BOTs and the use of machine learning will have significant focus – as will the emphasis on AI developing to help humans do more, rather than to replace humans.
5. Voice in the cloud: voice in the cloud grew massively in 2017 – and will continue to do so in 2018. Microsoft’s Skype for Business, for example, has been so widely adopted, it’s to be incorporated into Teams, the Microsoft collaboration app that’s seeing major uptake across the business world. And Cisco has invested heavily in buying VoIP (Voice over IP) provider Broadsoft.
6. Hybrid cloud: hybrid cloud is also going to see major growth in 2018. Microsoft’s Azure Stack enables businesses to bring the agility and innovation of cloud computing to on-premises environments, and platform as a service is really starting to take off.
7. While my 2017 prediction was that businesses were going to “at least begin making plans to meet the regulations and putting relevant measures in place” to meet the requirements of GDPR (the EU General Data Protection Regulation) – due to come into force 25 May 2018 – 2018 is going to see a major focus on finalising these measures. While no one single piece of technology can create compliancy, IT will play a major part in helping businesses implement the changes needed to meet the new regulation governing the storage, management and processing of personal data.
8. Training: and finally, I believe that training will take on an increasingly important focus within organisations across the board, regardless of industry and size in 2018. With the pace of change in technology, it is vital for businesses to invest in training programmes, to enable employees to be able to provide the best possible customer experiences through fully utilising solutions and services to their full advantage.
We’ll continue in 2018 to write about developments in these eight areas, as well as all aspects of cloud technology – and in the meantime, from us all at Cobweb, we wish you a happy Christmas, and a prosperous and profitable 2018.