It is that time of year again to start looking to the year ahead to predict the trends and technologies that will affect business in Ireland in 2016. Not all of these things will affect your business directly, but the trends on this list are already well-established, and they are gathering momentum.
Online Security Will Be Taken More Seriously, But There Will Still Be Breaches
In 2015 many hacking stories have made headlines, and many more hacking incidents have been quietly dealt with. This includes big hacking events like the publishing of Talk Talk customer data, or the naming of members of Ashley Madison, a dating website that encourages extra marital affairs. Among the organisations in Ireland that were hacked in 2015 were a broadband provider in Derry, and Central College Limerick.
Businesses will have no choice but to take online security more seriously in 2016. There will be further breaches, and customers will lose confidence in certain brands, so companies will have to take decisive action to protect their customer’s data, and their own commercially sensitive information.
Social Commerce Will Continue To Grow
Social commerce is an emerging sector in Ireland. If you talk to people under the age of 35, many of them will have bought something where the transaction either began on a social media platform, or was completed in full on that platform.
Facebook is the market leader in the field in Ireland with its powerful ecommerce integration and effective advertising offering. Other platforms are moving into the space, however, including Instagram and YouTube.
Content Marketing Will Become Even More Important
Consumers are increasingly carrying out their own research when making purchasing decisions. Consumers did this before the internet, but today there is much more information and it is all readily accessible. As a result consumers want information that is impartial, and that genuinely helps them reach a decision.
Companies who offer this type of content will be in a much stronger position to ultimately get the sale or contract. This is achieved through content marketing.
3D Printing Technology Will Develop
3D printing is a sector of the technology industry that has yet to find its reason for being, but huge advances are being made. It is already used in many industrial, medical, and military applications, although its usefulness to the general consumer is not yet clear. It has the potential to be a game changer, though.
Advanced Machine Learning Will Start To Move Mainstream
Advanced machine learning is basically where computers improve their understanding over time. If you are not directly involved in technology or programming that might sound far too complicated to attempt to understand, let alone implement in your own business. The fact is, however, that you probably use such systems every day. Whenever Amazon suggests a product, for example, it is doing it because it has learned about you over time. This concept is going to become much more common.
Here is an example: we all know that when you search on Google or visit websites that display Google-supplied advertisements that those advertisements are tailored to you. If you visit a website that sells shoes, you are likely to see ads for the website and its competitors as you surf elsewhere on the web. But Google is taking this a stage further – it has been working for several years now on predicting the information that you want to see, i.e. delivering a search result before you even ask a question. This opens up interesting opportunities for advertisers.
Bonus – You Will Start To Hear More About The Internet Of Things
Finally, we have a bonus round – the Internet of Things. It is included as a bonus rather than a potential 2016 trend because the technology is not far enough advanced to make a considerable impact next year. The Internet of Things is a concept where inanimate objects are all connected to the internet so that they can all talk to each other. An often quoted example is the fridge that knows you are nearly out of milk.
While still several years away, the Internet of Things is getting closer. Look at the example of Apple and BMW – in some BMW models you can check and perform functions on your car using your phone or the Apple Watch.
In 2016 expect to hear about developments like this, and the term Internet of Things, more and more.