Happy New Year to all my readers!
With the new year here once again, I’ve compiled a list of the technologies that I see will have a great impact, if properly exploited, for us in the region. Much of the items in my list last year came to pass; however, much of them have not been adopted by the Caribbean region. Some of those items are back again as they are still quite relevant and growing.
I hope that this year we will see more businesses and companies taking advantage of current and new technologies to improve their levels of service and production.
Some consider that 2013 was the year that cloud has become the “new normal”. This is thanks to many vendors now offering cloud services of some kind, such as Microsoft’s Office 365, Google Apps for Business, and even Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Other services such as Dropbox and Evernote have also gained traction within the enterprise.
Caribbean businesses have been slow to adopt cloud services, although some have come aboard, especially with Microsoft Office 365; Microsoft has a huge presence in the Caribbean region. Cloud services will give businesses flexibility and mobility, but requires a change in thinking, which I think that is the major challenge.
One area that needs to be addressed is the governance of cloud services. There have been much academic thought put into it, but such thought needs to reach the enterprise.
2. Big Data and Data Analytics
Big Data is another thing that took headlines, but for much nefarious reasons. Thanks to the National Security Agency (NSA) in the USA and the allegations of widespread data capture and surveillance, people started to become very sceptical about both Big Data and Cloud services.
This does not take away the fact that Big Data still has a lot to offer (see my last article on Big Data). Again businesses and governments in the region have been slow to adopt big data, or any kind of data for that matter. Data provided by public agencies have been slow, and oftentimes criticised as being inaccurate or skewed, leading some to posit that such data collection and dissemination should be privatised.
But businesses can start capturing data from within their own operations and start analysing that for insights on performance and productivity improvements. I hope that Caribbean businesses will start taking data analytics more seriously this year.
Data analytics is also helping with data security. Security attacks are getting more advanced and harder to detect. Security analytics use data from a variety of sources to discover anomalies that may indicate an attack. This, in my opinion, is one of the best defences possible again the advanced persistent threat (APT).
Big Data has also raised the status of a new type of employee – the data scientist. These are people with IT, statistical and analytical skills that allow them to test and analyse data.
3. Health IT
This is less to do with IT within healthcare institutions (although that is an area with real growth), and more to do with people using technology to take better care of themselves. With devices such as Nike+, Jawbone Up and Fitbit, and apps such as Runtastic, Endomondo and Noom, it allows for a more open market of healthcare that was never before available. This is using data to manage health.
Many of these devices and applications have APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to create their own applications to integrate or interact with those apps and devices. We in the Caribbean can start creating our own applications to help improve the health of many of our citizens, who seem to be taking an unhealthy road.
Robotics is more than The Terminator and SkyNet. It is about automation and machines performing physical tasks at or beyond human capacity. Robotics have become so commoditised that the everyday Joe can now purchase a drone, and Amazon says that drones may one day deliver your packages.
Google themselves have gotten deeper within robotics with the purchase of Boston Dynamics. While I’m uncertain how this will play out (and whether to be excited or afraid), expect great advances in robotics.
In the Caribbean, with our small geographic areas, drones can certainly be useful for delivery of materials to rural areas, for surveying and for domestic security. Robots may be useful in industry, especially in dangerous conditions, but not sure of the feasibility.
Expect to see the continued rise in market share of mobile Smartphones and tablets, and fall in desktop computing. More people are choosing Smartphones and tablets in lieu of desktop computers for their homes, using the desktops at their offices instead (see here).
I’m seeing more adoption of mobile services within the Caribbean and more mobile developer are popping up. I expect that this trend will continue.
Businesses should explore ways to improve the mobile services offered to both their customers and their employees.
6. 3D Printing
In the Caribbean, we have yet to grasp the opportunities available to us with this technology, for example, the manufacturing and energy sector can use 3D printers for rapid prototyping and repairs.