What will 2019 bring us in the world of IT? Is it going to see ground-breaking innovation, or will it be a case of more of the same?
I got together with two of my colleagues to share our thoughts, and to discuss what the year ahead could hold for us.
Folding it up
Let’s start with the topic that gets the headlines: what will gadgets look like in 2019?
“One of the things that’s been talked about a lot is Project Andromeda, which is Microsoft’s upcoming foldable two-in-one device,” says Simon Ashall, Head of Vendor Management. “We’re seeing a resurgence now around this kind of technology: LG, Samsung and Lenovo are all working on foldable phones, and 2019 will see the next steps in the evolution of foldable devices.”
“Once you have a foldable device in your pocket that’s light enough to carry and easy enough to use, and has decent battery life, I think that will drive the next transition,” adds Simon. “It’ll have a big impact on the market – you won’t need an iPad, and if you can connect wirelessly to a screen, a keyboard and a mouse, people will use their phones to do everything.”
“The Microsoft marketing machine is massive, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, which will help other companies as well,” explains Simon. “As soon as Andromeda comes out, that’ll change the landscape on phones – and if Apple hasn’t got a folding device in the lab, they’ll struggle.”
“Andromeda, or whatever it launches as, will start as a niche business product, rather than competing head to head with mobiles,” comments Simon. “But aesthetics drives a lot of what people buy nowadays, and if Microsoft get it right in terms of looks, and the overall solution, then Andromeda could take off quicker than they expect.”
Cloud and subscriptions
I believe that cloud will continue to go from strength to strength in 2019 and I’ve heard it said that expenditure on cloud infrastructure will surpass that of on-premise infrastructure for the first time ever. Certainly, a lot of our customers are shifting their expenditure from on-premise legacy licensing models to cloud – especially SMEs with less than 1,000 users – and this trend will continue this year.
In particular, we’ll see growth in cloud managed services, where partners with the right skillset, such as Total, will manage customers’ infrastructure on an ongoing basis – either where an organisation may have a lack of skills internally, or may want to re-focus their internal IT team and deliver more projects to create business value, while having a specialist deal with the day-to-day management of things like infrastructure.
We've already seen Device as a Service (DaaS) becoming popular, but this trend will continue in 2019 and beyond, as companies look to spread their investment and reduce uncertainty.
Security will also continue to be a driver for cloud, as organisations see Microsoft Azure as a way of adding security and resilience to their infrastructure without adding cost. With GDPR, if the average SME gets hacked it could cost them £500,000 or more, which would force them out of business – cloud is a way of minimising that risk.
Talk it out: AI and voice
We’ve all become used to Alexa, Siri and other voice assistants – and this kind of AI will continue to thrive. As the technology improves, and the accuracy of voice recognition gets better, then we’ll see dictation becoming mainstream.
“The potential of voice at work is huge, but people aren’t using it yet – not everyone knows that you can dictate an email on your laptop now,” says David Skinner, Microsoft Cloud and Solution Specialist. “The underlying AI behind voice recognition has come a long way, but will continue to get significantly better – and increasingly you’ll see people talking into their phones, rather than typing a text.”
“The mouse is dead, and it won’t be long until the keyboard follows,” predicts David. “Voice recognition is impressively accurate already, and dictating and transcribing can be huge timesavers.”
Away from voice, AI is making huge strides in many areas, and David adds, “Microsoft is encouraging businesses to develop their own applications which utilise the AI capabilities within Azure itself – which will be big.”
Digitalisation an essential
Yes, it’s a buzzword, but digitalisation will be even bigger this year than it already is. As Simon states, “Every business needs to keep up, and to take digitalisation seriously: they need to ensure they’re in the digital world and are ready, so their customers can have a positive experience on their platform. If they can’t and someone else can, they’re done – businesses have got three years to get this right, before it’s too late.”
People are increasingly coming to expect simple, easy to use digital products: whether that’s checking your credit card balance with an app on your phone, or one click on-line shopping.
David adds, “Paying in cheques is a big thing for me – I hate having to go to the bank. HSBC’s app lets me take a photo of a cheque and submit that, and being able to do all my banking from a single app is fantastic.”
“Any company that can’t analyse and react to all the data related to their business, including social media, is going to be in trouble,” says Simon. “If you can keep your customers happy by understanding all the data around them, then you’ll be able to outperform your competition.”
If you'd like to discuss your IT strategy or find out more about any of the areas discussed above speak to your account manager or contact us.