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Winding up 2015—Part 1

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December is now with us and we join the rest of the world in preparations for 2016. It has been an eventful year in the IT arena worldwide and in Malawi. In the next few weeks, I will try to summarise some of the new technology we should be aware of, and which technology could be facing obsolescence.

We should note, generally, that despite being a landlocked third world country, widespread access to the internet and data services has enabled us as individuals and companies to compete with the rest of the world on a level playing field. The use of smartphones, tablets and social networking has spiraled, and with it, the raft of new applications and technologies available to us. This cannot be a bad thing.

Mobile money apps have taken a strong foothold in the country, and are now being taken for granted by rural and urban users alike. Not only do these reduce overheads for banks and the like (and of course, we hope to see similar drops in bank charges?), but it also speeds up the ability to distribute funds as required. Will we see the day when numerous bank branches will become history?

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Internet services have improved, with big players, Airtel, TNM and Skyband actively increasing both their coverage and their range of internet based services. I am sure the other ISPs also have an expansion strategy – apologies for being ignorant of these. 4G technology is here, or so we are told.

However, usage of 4G services would be helped along by a scrutiny of the costs of data services in Malawi. This expansion was not helped by the introduction of taxes on data services in mid-year.

Globally, we have seen technology such as 3d printers, wearable tech devices, voice activation and virtual reality devices – all becoming mainstream. Cloud services have had a momentous year and appear to be breaking down the belief by users that they need to keep their data on local devices. Security relating to this will always be a major consideration here and this industry is growing fast. We are seeing an increasing number of electronic devices with inbuilt technology to allow them to talk to each other – the Internet of Things or IOT.

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Microsoft has had a big year. Firstly, the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 10 – also nicknamed the “Universal App” – free of charge to legal users. Yes – completely free. Currently, more than 120 million users (and growing) have taken advantage of this offer worldwide. Windows 10 is aimed at maximising internet services across the whole range of devices – and this far it appears to be one of the most successful Microsoft strategies in the last decade. Combined with Office 2016 and Microsoft cloud services, I believe they are on a winning streak that should become more apparent in 2016.

What technologies are on their way out in the near future? For a start, home landline phones and faxes should be history by the end of 2016. Video cameras or camcorders are also being superceded by smartphones and SLR bridge cameras. Desktop sales are taking a nose dive, as more users are seeking the increased mobility of tablets and laptops. Microsoft are adding to this list by releasing new Nokia phones this Christmas that they describe as a computer in your pocket.

Simply connect this to input devices and a screen – and you have your computer up and running, wherever you are. So, will the desktop go the way of fax machines? CDs and DVDs are also now being replaced by online downloads and flash drives. In fact, anything that spins has a short shelf life. Hard drives will be replaced by SSD drives as the latter gets cheaper. Demand for large capacity drives will drop as more and more users opt to store data in the cloud.

I will continue on this vein in the lead up to the festive season. Your views would be most welcome – what technology can’t you do without in 2016? And what is surplus to your requirements?

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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