We all know smartphones have taken over as the device of choice for accessing the Internet — and this shift should play a big role in how businesses use data, and make data useful, in 2016. Data-intensive interrelationships between businesses, their partners, their employees and their customers will drive the changing face of businesses technology in 2016.
Roughly 51 percent of digital media is now consumed via smartphone, according to the consultancy KPCB, compared with only 42 percent via desktops and laptops.
This shift is having wide-ranging effects, shaping all five of the biggest technology trends businesses will face in the coming year. Here’s how:
1. Frictionless Purchasing
Consumers all carry Internet browsers in their pockets thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, and ComScore found that 11.3 percent of all web viewers now rely solely on their mobile devices for getting online. Ubiquitous Internet access has made online shopping easier than ever—but not the payment side of things.
This thankfully is starting to change, however. Companies like Apple and Google, as well as Paypal and a raft of upstarts such as Square, are now tackling the problem of mobile payment head on, and 2016 will be a big year for frictionless payment solutions.
The goal is a digital wallet scheme where consumers no longer need to pull out their credit cards for purchases, be it online or at a physical retail outlet. Technologies like Apple Pay are attacking the physical store side of frictionless payments, and there’s a big push from Apple and others to make online purchasing from a mobile device as easy as clicking “Buy Now” and accessing a stored credit card account.
2. Cloud Services for Everything
If mobile devices are becoming the primary computing device for many and an adjunct to those of us who still prefer laptops, then ever more storage, computing power, and business systems must reside in the cloud for access anywhere.
This comes as no surprise; in fact, 93 percent of all businesses already use the cloud, according to a recent State of the Cloud report by RightScale. There’s still much more room for growth, however, since the same study found that 68 percent of businesses run less than a fifth of their applications in the cloud.
Given the increasing penetration of mobile usage, this year should see even more adoption of cloud services as both businesses and consumers complete the migration to the cloud. Research firm IDC predicts that global software-as-a-service revenue will reach $106 billion in 2016 as adoption continues to expand, a 21 percent increase over 2015 levels.
3. Embedded Communications
Nobody wants to switch apps in the middle of a purchase or hunt for a way to contact customer service when a problem arises. This might not be a big deal for consumers who buy things online and visit web sites from a laptop, but it becomes a huge issue for mobile users.
This need for seamless communication from mobile devices is leading to the rise of embedded rich communications within apps and directly from web pages, and 2016 will be the year when it becomes easy to contact customer support in a rich communications environment.
4. Improved Security
With employees carrying data out of the office on mobile devices, customer information housed in the public cloud, and an increase in communications on smartphones via unified communications and over-the-top solutions such as Skype, security is a bigger issue than ever.
Firms are not doing so well on the security front, either; there were 783 reported data breaches in the U.S. last year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, and stats for 2015 probably will not be any better.
Security has become one of the biggest issues in business technology, and 2016 should be the year that businesses start to take better precautions.
Putting security at the forefront will mean encryption during transport and at rest, improved bring-your-own-device management and security, adoption of cloud solutions that take security as a fundamental priority, and better security awareness, among other things.
5. Wearables in the Workplace
Smartphones have made workers more mobile and responsive to real-time data during the course of the workday. Businesses are embracing the opportunity this brings by incorporating smartphones and connected tablets into a range of business processes.
Carrying around a tablet or pulling out a smartphone every few minutes is cumbersome and often time consuming—a problem the burgeoning wearables trend looks to address.
While businesses are still figuring out the exact ways that wearables, such as the Apple Watch, can be put to good use for business, developers are already hard at work on apps that deliver timely business notifications and reduce the need for employees to constantly check their smartphones or tablets. The wearables trend in business should start to pick up late in 2016 and continue well into 2017 and beyond.
The past few years have seen mobile dominating tech trends. This will continue in 2016, with businesses building off of mobility, seizing the natural advantages of the platform, and ironing out some of the kinks that mobile devices bring to the table.
Peter Scott is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years. You can contact him at PeterEditorial@gmail.com. And JT Ripton is a business consultant and blogger who enjoys writing about many things, business and technology among them. Ripton’s advice has appeared in numerous places like BusinessInsider, Entrepreneur.com, The Guardian, and The Street. Follow him @JTRipton