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IT Trends: Looking to 2016

As a follow on from my column last week – Winding Up 2015 – here are some of the trends that IT professionals and users need to be aware of in 2016. As IT is such a dynamic industry and in an ongoing state of flux, it would be very interesting to look back to 2015 and see how accurate this column has been.

Looking back at the end of 2014 – I highlighted two areas to consider in 2015 – these being cloud services and social media marketing. I am pleased to say these predictions have been pretty accurate. In 2016 – these will continue to grow exponentially, and I refer to them again later in the column.

Online and social media business and marketing is fast becoming the norm, leading to the demise of leaflets, direct mailshotting and newspaper adverts. This of course assumes that the target market does have access to the internet.

Realtime and content marketing is more commonplace. Customers are becoming the new standard bearers for the sale of products, with more than 88 percent of online consumers being affected by comments and endorsements by other clients.

Interestingly, just recently, legal action was taken by Amazon against at least one of their suppliers who was paying for fake comments and endorsements to be added onto their products to increase sales. Facebook pages – such as “Malawi Classifieds” and “Let’s Do Business Malawi” are becoming the must visit pages for consumers looking for products and services locally.

Google plus also has its own widely used applications for the sale of goods and services. In Malawi, we all know that word of mouth recommendations are of great importance to consumers, and online endorsements are just an extension of this.

Cloud services has moved from strength to strength, with Microsoft’s O365 high up on the winner’s podium. I have strongly endorsed this product in terms of functionality and cost benefit previously, so will not bore you with more details.

It should be the first option for any Malawian customers seeking to legalise their Office installations. Cloud services with regard to financial software and customer relationship management are fast replacing on machine and on premise applications.

One distinct advantage of cloud services is the fact that users can access their data and services on any device and anywhere where they have internet access. A possible disadvantage for users is that they can also be accessed by their organisations at any time- blurring the line between working and non-working hours.

In 2016 open internet will become more widespread, as companies realise that their sales will grow exponentially as access to the internet expands their market. Many forward thinking governments in Africa have already introduced this – as they see the considerable benefits to their economy and society at large.

Currently Facebook offers free data services in Malawi – amongst other countries – which is aimed at increasing Facebook usage, as well as bundling useful information on health and other social services to mobile phone users. Some companies, however, are still greedy and believe the internet should not be open for the sake of profitability. This will impede innovation.

Music and video streaming will continue to undermine the established entertainment industry, and in some cases, the artistes themselves.

Innovative methods of protecting copyright will need to be adopted to manage this. The next step to streaming will be TV on demand applications, where users choose what programs they want to watch and when.

I do not think this will replace the live news channels as most viewers still seek to be informed immediately on breaking news.

A few more areas that I will talk about in future columns include crypto currency, security and the growing adoption of intelligent and context sensitive searches matched to personal online behavioural history.

The effects of this on personal security and cybercrime need to be carefully evaluated, as companies and governments start building larger and larger dossiers on individuals based on their online activity.

Teri Sequeira is the Managing Director for SyncIT Solutions Ltd – established in 2003. Email terisequeira@hotmail.com or visit www.syncitafrica.com

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