Which tech trends will impact your business, employees and customers in 2020? What challenges and opportunities should be racing up the boardroom agenda? We've taken a long, hard look at the year ahead and identified five forces that seem unstoppable.
2020 promises to be an interesting year for consumers. Analysts are predicting swarms of e-bikes hitting the streets, streaming services like Netflix facing intense competition, and more deep-fake videos circulating on social media — especially during the US election campaign.
But what should UK businesses be thinking about? Here are five tech trends to watch closely ...
Trend #1: AI gets ultra personal and more available
Let's be honest, advanced artificial intelligence can make us feel a little edgy. But we had better get used to more of it in 2020. Deloitte predicts around a million robots will be sold to enterprises in 2020 in a booming market worth £27 billion. But it's not just the ones that shimmy around factories. More than half will be "professional service robots".
Some will be given a voice too. Conversational AI could help us with buying products, booking tickets and setting up business meetings. Smaller firms could be embracing AI services too, thanks to a growing pool of providers offering tailored applications for specific tasks. In fact, "no company will have any excuses left not to use AI", says Bernard Marr in Forbes.
Trend #2: Wearables push back reality
Gamers are eagerly awaiting the 2020 release of the iconic Half-Life series — the first since 2007 — which can only be played with Valve's VR headset, which could spark a virtual reality mini boom.
But businesses can cash in too. Extended Reality (XR) is a phrase you might start hearing more about. It's catch-all term that covers virtual, augmented and mixed realities. Training, simulation and customer service could become more available using XR. See our blog on how AR technology is being used by brands.
Trend #3: Wi-Fi 6 and 5G mean we can handle the data explosion
By the end of 2020, Wi-Fi 6 will be mainstream for mobile devices, providing the bandwidth needed as data traffic continues to rocket. Take a look at our infographic about the Top 5 things you need to know about Wi-Fi 6.
Meanwhile, 5G will really take off in the UK with its super-fast upload speeds and more stable connections. Over time, 'industrial 5G' will begin to create a swathe of new business possibilities, changing how entire industries operate, as well as bringing commercial opportunities for suppliers, reckons Deloitte. One possibility could be the fast and reliable remote control of tractors on farms, diggers on construction sites or cranes at ports. – maybe a few more examples here
Trend #4: Blockchain takes big steps forwards
The name is dull and its role is mechanical, but blockchain may get a sprinkle of stardust this year. Giant companies have been working with the technology, which links electronic records using cryptography. Watch out for the launch of Facebook's own blockchain-based crypto currently Libra.
Gartner lists blockchain as one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2020. It could also appeal to smaller companies and start-ups with the concept of blockchain as a service. Cloud-based services could allow users to develop their own digital products , such as smart contracts, decentralized applications and other products.
Trend #5: Staying secure becomes even tougher
Writing in Tech Republic, Jack Wallen's cybersecurity predictions might make your skin crawl. He warns of an inordinate rise in security breaches, attacks and incidents.
In some respects, security has never been harder to manage. The arrival of 5G and the proliferation of IoT devices is widening the attack surface, while customers are getting increasingly sensitive over how their data is safeguarded. What's more, some experts are predicting that criminals are moving away from enterprises and focusing on small to midsize businesses as softer targets.
With that in mind, see our 7 data breach prevention tips to help you increase mobile device security.
What if we're wrong about the future?
The top trends we've identified seem unstoppable. But futurists get it wrong sometimes.
So let's finish up by looking back at some bizarre predictions for 2020 — made decades earlier by scientists, writers and other boffins.
Apparently, by now, human feet will have become just one big toe. The letters C, X, and Q will have been dropped from the alphabet. And we'll be living in flying houses, communicating telepathically and teleporting to work.
So what on earth went wrong?
What does 2020 hold for you?
At Vohkus, we're always helping our customers to stay one step ahead using leading technology, applied in the optimal way. Contact our expert team and we'll be glad to discuss your business challenges and opportunities in 2020 and beyond.