How to upgrade your business with the top tech trends of 2018
Written on the 28 March 2018 by David Simmons
We get it: tech can be hard to keep up with. The amount of change that's happened in the last year alone can be overwhelming. From AI, to data, to cybersecurity there's always something new begging for your attention (and for your money, too).
So what are the trends that are going to dominate the rest of 2018? Business News Australia spoke to Andrew Tucker, the CEO of ITonCloud, a company which develops cloud based IT solutions for business, about the big moves in tech you should be looking out for to help your company grow.
If you've paid attention to the news lately you might be a bit frightened of artificial intelligence. Computers are getting smarter every day and it might seem like we should be scared of losing our jobs to a walking, talking machine. But Tucker says the fear is overblown.
"I don't think AI will completely replace human workers, I don't think that's going to be the case," says Tucker.
"But I certainly think AI is going to replace all the mundane and risky stuff that people don't want to do."
Instead of being afraid of artificial intelligence taking over your company and kicking your employees out of their jobs, Tucker says we should embrace AI as an assistant in the workplace.
"I think businesses are getting to the stage where there's probably a better and easier way to do the job than have a human of lesser skill doing it," says Tucker.
"You could use AI to free your workers up from doing the mundane jobs and trying to upskill those staff to be better and more efficient and therefore make more money.
"Alternatively, it could be a tactic from day one where you're going to employ less people at the beginning and make your business more efficient."
What's on the market right now isn't going to start running your business or making your accountant redundant, but it might be able to streamline some of the banal aspects of life. Systems like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home are both AI powered "virtual assistants" that are entirely operated by your voice. Additionally, basic AI programs can be run on your website, allowing your customers to "chat" with an AI powered bot unless the issue needs to be escalated to a human operator.
You might already know about "the cloud": that mysterious place in the Internet where, we're told, our information is safe and sound. But recent data breaches at Equifax, Uber, and Deloitte leave much to be worried about. How safe is our data in the cloud and what should we do to protect it?
Tucker, who works with cloud software, thinks more problems occur when we store data in a cloud we create ourselves, rather than outsourced cloud software like Microsoft's OneDrive or Dropbox.
"I think the real issue is how we keep our data safe on premises," says Tucker.
"The money that is spent on technology, and the ability to keep everything safe and sound in the cloud is important, because a cloud provider's reputation will be staked on that. Whereas in an office we don't hear about those breaches, we don't hear about those hackings.
"It would be interesting to know how many people have had breaches and hacks and didn't even know about it on their own premises.
"Your data has become a lot safer and more robust in the cloud."
In terms of trends for the cloud in 2018, Tucker says companies will be working on ways to ensure you can access your data anywhere, at any time, from any device.
"In terms of cloud technology and the evolution of that, they will be making it more mobile and more seamless," says Tucker.
"This year is going to be the year of consolidation in the cloud world. The technology is going to be a lot more bedded down. People don't want outage, they don't want a loss of data, and top tier cloud providers are all now getting that sorted and making sure that's less of a thing that's happening."
If you've seen Netflix's Black Mirror you'll know how scary robots could become. If not, take a look at this video of what Boston Dynamics have been creating; a robot that can open doors all by itself.
While that may cause concern, Tucker says robots will make an appearance in our offices sometime soon, but he just doesn't know how.
"I think at this stage they are still in a fledgling period, they've only just got them to be able to summersault and stand up!" says Tucker.
"Robotics is probably going to get a bit smarter in the way it performs day to day activities in an office."
Considering it's so early, Tucker says businesses wanting to buy into the robotics craze should maybe hold off for now.
"What I've always said to people, is if you want to play with the latest and greatest technology that you don't really understand, you need to make sure the standards have been set.
"For example, if you've got the cash you can play the stock market. But you play the stock market with money you're prepared to lose. If you just think it's going to give you a leading edge now with something that isn't tried and tested, I don't think that's prudent."
"My advice to any business that I talk to is: is it going to change the way you do business that's going to make you more money or give your customers better satisfaction, making you stickier and more profitable in the long run? If it doesn't tick some of those boxes then don't play with it yet."
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons