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1. Wearables in the office

Google Glass? Apple Watch? While many in the centre of the technology maelstrom admit that wearable tech is probably a fad, the theory remains sound. They could prove to be very useful tools during specified time periods. For example, a waiter using a smartwatch could track orders and customers while an engineer donning a pair of smart glasses during a maintenance job would be able gather extra information instantly.

This may sound Orwellian, but imagine an office issuing smartwatches for working hours: schedule your meetings, enter the correct locations, even order lunch from the canteen all from your wrist (Gartner predicts by 2020 health wearables will be mandatory at some companies).

Seagate is one of several companies to predict more business wearables in 2016, not the least because during 2015 many software companies started adding wearable support to business applications.

2. Security goes mainstream

Cybercrime and security is a major issue in the era of Bring Your Own Device and enterprise mobility. Yet the real problem is how little we seem to care about the problem. Security breaches are something many companies assume only happen to others.

This is clearly flawed thinking (just ask the CIO of Sony Pictures) and the market is waking up to that fact. 2016 will be the year when security becomes more mainstream in business circles. Frost & Sullivan count among many analysts placing security as a top trend to watch, especially as Internet of Things networks grow. Pluribus Networks even expects some companies will market how proactive their security arrangements are as a business advantage

But the real excitement may be in which security concepts will get a chance to shine: for example, banks are already hoping Bitcoin’s innovative ‘blockchain’ security system can replace their own antiquated transaction systems (it may also more profitable, thanks to new efficiencies).

3. Get used to cloud 

You can’t ignore the cloud. It’s a faddish name, but what it represents is very real and consequential. Some even draw a comparison to the time when PCs started taking over from mainframes: the same evolution is happening again. Today, large data centres are doing the heavy lifting your desktop or server used to. Gmail is the cloud version of a service your PC once handled. Soon almost all software will work like that – just look at Microsoft O365  and Adobe's Creative Cloud.

Up to half of South African SMEs may be on the cloud in 2016, predicts World Wide Worx: 'For the first time, we are seeing a real take-up of cloud services, which indicates that more and more SMEs are overcoming their natural apprehensions around the cloud and are instead starting to realise the benefits this can offer.'

Currently 39% of SMEs use cloud services: most access email services, but there are growing numbers of backup and accounting service users. The combination of tougher economic times, a matured cloud industry eager for the opening market, and lowering internet prices could make 2016 a big year for local cloud adoption.

4. Shadow IT continues to rise

There was once a time when all technology decisions went through a company’s IT department and staff. The reason for this is simple: technology is complicated, expensive and difficult to implement. It requires the experience and insight of trained professionals to get it right.

At least, that was the case. 

Though many technology services still require expensive and complicated solutions, cloud-driven software suites are drastically changing the game. You can, with the swipe of a credit card, gain access to enterprise-grade software, high-end computer systems and scarily powerful analytics engines – and only pay for what you use.

This allows non-IT people to easily procure services that would in the past have cost a fortune and required experts to implement. It’s a phenomenon called ‘Shadow IT’ and is causing tectonic shifts in business technology circles, not the least because it allows non-IT workers to procure new services behind the backs of a company’s technology watch dogs.

There are many pros and cons to Shadow IT – and about as many opinions on whether it is good or bad. But nobody denies its presence: Gartner estimates that nearly 30% of all business IT spending is done through Shadow IT, a number that will continue to grow.

Why is this important? Shadow IT directly challenges the IT status quo at companies, as well as how those businesses will use technology to grow. This can be good or bad, but it must not be ignored.

5. Dual PCs are here

It’s the new executive toy: a machine that is part laptop, part tablet and all business. Just take a look around: machines such as Microsoft’s Surface and Lenovo’s Yoga hybrids are becoming more commonplace. We can assume that manufacturers have finally nailed this design. Hybrid PCs are not new, but since 2015 they have risen from obscurity into a new computer market, picking up the slack from falling laptop and tablet sales.

IDC estimated that the segment would grow by over 80 %. Companies including Asus, Microsoft, Intel and Lenovo are already seeing the dividends of tapping into this trend. Apple is hoping its iPad Pro can also get in on the action.

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