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This is the time of year where pundits such as myself start hyping what we think will be happening next year in order to predict trends and patterns and show we know what we are doing. ūüėČ

For me, the trend to watch is the evolution of business models, both in technology and in go-to-market strategies.  Because too much is changing in the industry for things to continue in a static pattern of how we sell, what we sell and how we engage.  Too much is being asked of technology, and not enough is done in process change of how we use the technology.  Or, as shown this week in France, how the technology is being used by others in ways we did not foresee where private communication abilities are used in ways we do not expect.

In terms of technology, we have enabled access so much so that the users are in control, not the IT department nor the government trying to restrict or audit what we do or say.  This can be seen in hybrid cloud structures, in how we use mobile technology, and in how restructured communication has usurped traditional structured forms of dialogue.  For example, Twitter as a faster source of news than the news channels.  Policing the new forms of communication has become difficult.  I work with an educational organization that has no internal policy on Facebook communication, so much so that the main users got together to agree on a structured policy before the institution even thought about mandating one.  There is shadow IT, and there is also shadow communications.  And frankly, one drives the other.

One of the points I want to make here is that communication is driving many technological shifts.  Or as the Microsoft ad says, it is not the technology that is mobile, it is you.   How we work, when we work, and how we communicate is pushing the technology to work in different ways for us.   We have not had major technological breakthroughs, rather we have pushed the limits of how we work to the point the technology has had to adapt.

A good example is the storing of data.  As I am writing this blog post, the system is saving my work every few minutes automatically. More of what is created is saved and tracked, adding much more data storage available and larger digital footprint is created.  We have had to adopt faster means of storing and processing to the front of the network, thus one of the trends for 2016 is the use of flash as a primary storage technology going forward.  Part of the driver for this is cost and performance, but another main portion of this is process change and digital process transformation.

Another evolution of business models is the use of multiple cloud methods for business processes.  For me, hybrid cloud in 2016 will have shades of the outsourcing trends of the 1990s, where ultimately consumers and enterprises will have to decide if managing their own data is a core competency of theirs or not.  And many, facing privacy concerns and performance irritations, will take their data back in-house.

Privacy and security have become more significant concerns, thus one of the ongoing trends in Europe in 2016 is the push for cyber insurance. Businesses outside the United States are rapidly discovering what U.S. businesses and their customers have known for a few years: that a data breach is not a matter of if, but when, as shown by the September introduction of the International Cyber Consortium of insurers providing robust data breach cover to businesses domiciled outside the United States with revenues in excess of $5 billion. But systemic risks and exposure accumulation are limiting insurers’ ability to provide large corporates with the size of limits they need to cover their cyber risks, with a push for governments to step in and provide support.¬† Here is where evolution of insurance models is helped by big data and analytics. Using big data and modelling, insurers can learn what companies are using which cloud or network structures and platforms in order to show the connections that exist [between insured companies] and build up a probable maximum loss.¬† Insurers want to find out how enterprises cost and monitor aggregate risk as part of their cyber insurance coverage. So risk monitoring is a fairly big trend for 2016.

Cloud management, risk monitoring, and digital process transformation are all key themes for me in 2016, along with the evolution of privacy and security being baked into the IT infrastructure as to be always present and always on. This includes the addition of IoT into the framework.  Things as well as people will be engaging at all times.

The other portion of my views for 2016 is how we reach our audiences in our go-to-market strategies.¬† Traditional forms of communication are being overshadowed by all of the screaming and yelling done on social media.¬† Social media reminds of the saying “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”.¬† Very few of us are engaging on social media, most are trumpeting their wares and not engaging in dialog and feedback with those who are supposed to be listening.¬†¬† “Old school” users of Twitter engage, those who came later just use it as a posting board.¬†¬† Facebook is becoming more of people shouting at each other, and not actively sharing with each other.¬† This is why many young people are moving away from the platform to other more mobile apps geared more for the mobile lifestyle.¬†¬† And we are watching less video these days, so catching the eye of a viewer is becoming more challenging.

Social media tools that highlight engagement and feedback, versus amplification of the message, are the ones to watch in 2016. It is about integration, innovation & automation to maximise potential engagement.  A personal favorite for me is Hubspot. 

I hope this gives you a flavor of what I am working on at present.  Feel free to reach out to engage me in a discussion on the topics!