The next big thing and what it means for small organizations
This year, we’ve seen the Internet of Things go enterprise-grade and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) move from something being talked about to something that’s going live. It will be interesting to see how they develop in 2018. And there are plenty more technologies on the horizon, which experts are already billing as the next big thing.
We take a look at three technologies set to make their mark in 2018: augmented reality (AR), automated security intelligence and cryptocurrencies. Large enterprises are already starting to implement these technologies to help streamline their operations, improve customer experience (CX) and strengthen their security. But they’re not just for enterprises. They could prove key for smaller businesses too.
Security intelligence automation
As your IT ecosystem grows, so do the cyber threats to your business. In a more connected world, where your perimeter is forever growing as you connect more things, businesses are more and more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. And that means security needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.
No defense is invulnerable. You need to be ready to respond to attacks fast. Strong cybersecurity is based on intelligence and being able to spot and act on the real threats to your business. The latest security solutions are using increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify unusual patterns, detect possible attacks and trigger the right response. AI won’t replace human intelligence any time soon though—instead it’s augmenting it. There’s still a big role for security experts who understand the real threats posed to your business.
AR overlays your natural environment with virtual information, which augments what would normally be available to the user. For example, AR glasses have been developed for surgeons performing complicated back surgery. These project 3D models of the patient’s spine onto the lenses, helping the surgeon to get quite literally under the skin of the patient and carry out procedures far more accurately than they would otherwise be able to.
AR isn’t just for surgeons. New applications are emerging all the time. One way AR is being used to great effect is as part of the recruitment process. It can give prospective employees an insight into what it’s like to work at an organization, what the culture’s like and if it’s for them, before they start. That can cut down on the time it takes to onboard new employees—and improve staff retention. With more realistic expectations, new recruits may be more likely to stay.
We’re likely to see more uses of virtual reality (VR) too—for example, to deliver better quality training. One insurance firm has introduced VR-based training for its claims adjusters, who explore and assess the damage caused to customers’ houses from major catastrophes such as earthquakes. Using VR, the adjusters can experience simulations of these and other incidents, helping to improve their job-readiness from the outset.
Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital currency that use cryptography to secure and verify the transaction. Bitcoin is the best-known of these cryptocurrencies, but is by no means the only one: Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin are some of the others widely available. While some cryptocurrencies have attracted negative publicity because of their volatility as an asset class, when used purely as a means of payment, they have a number of advantages. For small and medium businesses (SMBs), perhaps the most relevant is that they can make transactions cheaper and more efficient: they can cut down on processing fees and speed up clearing times on payments.
Another bonus for SMBs is that cryptocurrencies can be easily added to payment systems by opening up a merchant wallet account. This account can be integrated with existing points of sale, giving potential customers greater flexibility when it comes to paying. That’s why many SMBs are already starting to pay attention to cryptocurrencies.
These are just some of the technologies that could begin to have a big impact on your business in 2018. They can offer simulated situations to help improve training for employees, add to customer payment options for better CX and spot cyber threats before you do to help maintain the security of your systems. It’s time for small organizations to start investigating the possibilities.