We have done a lot of blog articles on the future impact that technology will have on businesses.

While some people may say that this is becoming a boring topic, I disagree. Technology progresses so much on a daily basis that it becomes hard to quantify the impact that technology will have on our daily lives without revisiting this topic on a regular basis.

Last year saw some interesting developments in the IT infrastructure space, including the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the launch of low range networks that enable more devices to be connected and communicable.

According to research undertaken by Gartner, 2017 will also be seeing new trends emerging such as the growth of intelligence and connectedness through the launch of new apps and many more IoT devices, while artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual and augmented reality are expected to make significant progress.

Much of the same

Despite a few significant technologies, the key underlying technology trends remain the same, albeit reworded or regrouped. We are still moving towards the world that is ever more connected, meshed and customer centric.

Businesses need to pay attention to this underlying theme of transforming digitally, as it seems set to stay for the next few years and should form part of every organization’s 5-year strategy.

One of the most significant changes when comparing Gartner’s 2015 predictions for 2016, and 2016 predictions for 2017, is the expansion of the mesh environment to encompass Conversational Systems, Digital Technology Platforms, Meshed Applications and Service Architecture (MASA) and Adaptive Security Architecture (ASA).

Meshed devices are still important, as we all need devices that are interoperable and connected. However, the onus for this interoperability and connectivity is now on mesh applications and the underlying service architecture that is MASA rather than the hardware itself.

Shifting thinking

Businesses no longer need to think up products and services based on what they think the market needs. There is an abundance of customer data available that businesses can leverage to predict what consumers actually need, and build solutions and services around this.

This type of customer centricity means that there is a demand for an agility in thinking that was previously not possible.

MASA weaves together web, mobile, desktop and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, exposing Application Program Interfaces (APIs) at multiple levels and across traditional boundaries. This, in turn, helps to improve the scalability of services, enhances agility and enables technology to be easily repurposed and reused.

It also helps to facilitate a seamless experience across different channels and optimizes the experience depending on the endpoint device in use.

Another emerging trend that has seen a change between 2016 and 2017 is that of IoT platforms, expanding and evolving into the more inclusive digital technology platforms, which form the foundation of the digital business.

Within this space, the platforms consisting of information systems, the customer experience, analytics and intelligence, business ecosystems and the 2016 listed trend, IoT, allow new business solutions to be agile, integrated and scalable.

Organizations need to develop the right mix across these digital technology platforms in order to meet the demands of digital transformation and satisfy their customers.

What to consider

The combination of MASA and new digital technology platforms create a far greater target for security threats than previously known. The more touchpoints there are in this meshed world of connected everything, the more potential access points there are for cyber criminals too.

While cyber security itself is not a new issue, the perpetrators of cyber-attacks continue to evolve and, as we add new technologies, we are faced with new security challenges. Thus, the emergence of adaptive security architecture has become a hot topic.

Adaptive security architecture goes beyond traditional IT security measures and effectively uses predictive data analysis and artificial intelligence capabilities to continuously monitor a network and automatically adapt and evolve accordingly.

It constantly analyses for any sign of infiltration, breach or security anomaly in order to react faster and more efficiently as it grows.

The business impact

It is no secret that the majority of business transacting takes place in the virtual sense today, and that customer approval and desire is a hot commodity.

The ease with which people can access what they want and change service providers when they are not getting what they want means that businesses who are not transforming will eventually be left behind.

However, it is important to note that transformation is a process and, with the right technology partner, there is time yet for businesses to start investigating these trends, tapping into new technologies to drive customer centricity and business success.

The cyber threat

With technology comes a new breed of criminals. Gone are the days of miscreants barging into a building with a balaclava and gun in hand to rob the business. The new breed of criminals are silent, unseen and brazen as they exist in relative anonymity in the digital world.

How bad is the situation? We already know that the US and the UK are spending millions trying to contain the threat. Reports from other parts of the world point the growing nature of the problem.

Reports from Germany show that the German government registered 82 649 cases of computer fraud, espionage and other cybercrimes in 2016, an increase of just over 80 percent from 2015.

According to a report on the SABC official website, cyber-attacks are increasing at an alarming rate. In 2015, more than 500 million personal records were stolen or lost due to cyber-crime, since then Phishing, a form of cyber-fraud increased to 55%.

In 2014, South Africa had the highest number of cyber-crime on the African continent. In the same year, the country lost R50 billion in cyber-attacks due to phishing messages and opening attachments.

Cybercrime in Zambia has also increased significantly (23%) in the last two years, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The report stated that financial loss attributed to cybercrime was at 58%, while reputational damage was measured at 57%.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of the respondents suffered a loss of below $100 000 compared to just 19% in 2014, and that the number of respondents experiencing losses of between $100 and $1million has escalated from 7% in 2014 to 11% in 2016

In 2016, .3% of cybercrime incidents resulted in losses of over $1 million, up from 1% in 2014.

PwC partner Andrew Chibuye said the increase in the use of technology platforms has brought about greater risk because of exposure to cyber criminals. And this comes as no surprise.