What is going to happen to the IT world in 2016? While no one knows for sure, it is possible to make a few educated guesses based on current industry trends. The following predictions offer both early warnings and potential opportunities for business owners, helping them chart the best course forward.
Here are four IT trends business owners should watch in 2016:
1. Ransomware and Other Types of Cyberattacks Will Be on the Rise
The number of cyberattacks will continue to increase in 2016, with ransomware being one of the biggest threats, according to McAfee Labs and Trend Micro. Besides increasing in number, ransomware attacks will be harder to detect. New ransomware variants will likely have stealth capabilities, allowing them to encrypt data silently in the background or even encrypt data on the fly, according to McAfee Labs. Plus, Trend Micro predicts that ransomware attacks will become more personalized, exploiting companies' fears of losing their good business reputations.
In light of this prediction, you will need to keep abreast of security issues, vulnerabilities, and exploits — if you are not already doing so. There are many ways to track them, such as signing up to receive email alerts issued by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
2. Governments and Other Organizations Will Take a More Active Role in Fighting Cybercrime
Governments will take a more active role in protecting the Internet and its users in 2016, according to Trend Micro. Besides governments enacting legislation, the Internet security firm predicts that there will be more international cooperation between governments, similar to the 2015 agreement between the United States and Europe to share data during criminal and terrorism investigations.
Sharing data and resources will also become more commonplace among other organizations, according to Trend Micro. These organizations will likely try to emulate how the Cyber Defense Institute, INTERPOL, Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft, and Trend Micro took down the SIMDA botnet in 2015.
Even if these trends hold true, you should not rely solely on government and outside organizations to protect your business against cyberattacks. You will need to implement security measures to protect your business if you have not done so already.
3. The Wearables Market Will Rapidly Expand
The number of wearable computer-powered devices (e.g., smart watches, smart glasses) is expected to grow from 200 million in 2015 to 780 million worldwide by 2018, according to McAfee Labs. Besides growing in number, wearables will likely grow in sophistication, opening the door wider for business use. For example, PwC envisions a retail environment in which clerks use wearables to access information in real time to answer customers' questions and customers receive sale notices on their wearables when they enter stores.
Although wearables have the potential to improve employee productivity, increase sales, and provide other benefits for businesses, they have a possible downside as well, according to McAfee Labs. Wearables can expose businesses to security vulnerabilities because they either connect to the Internet directly or connect to smartphones or tablets. So, if you want to take advantage of wearables in your business, you will need to ensure that the connections are secure. You will also need to protect any data you collect from wearables.
4. Companies Will Continue to Migrate to IT Infrastructures in the Cloud despite Fewer Cloud Vendors Offering This Service
The migration from onsite physical IT infrastructures to IT infrastructures in the cloud is expected to continue in 2016, according to cloud experts. The potential to save time and money will be fueling this migration. Companies will be able to run their business applications without having to buy or manage the servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and other items needed to host those applications.
However, starting in 2016, there will be a rapid consolidation of public cloud vendors that offer IT infrastructure services, according to Technology Business Research. It is predicting that four companies — Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, and Microsoft — will account for almost half of this market by 2018. So, if you are contemplating running your business applications from an IT infrastructure in the cloud, you may have fewer cloud vendors to choose from.