Every year has its trends, be they in fashion, entertainment, even food – and we all know that technology is a key area for rapid change.

So it’s time to take a look at what we at Bespoke Computing think might be the standout topics for 2016.

Security

We’ve said before, that the term ‘cyber security’ might just have had its day. It’s hard to draw a distinction now between on and offline good practice and risk.

It’s also true that security is rarely off the agenda for one reason or another, but we’re convinced that 2016 is the year that will see a major drive to up our game as a nation when it comes to protecting our data, identities and privacy.

This has been a hot topic for many months, both for international media and us. Several big profile names including TalkTalk, Marks & Spencer, Ashley Madison and more recently VTech, have all been subject to a hack that has resulted in personal information going walkabout.

Our view is that the bad news will only continue in 2016. Just before Christmas, networking giant Juniper Networks discovered unauthorised backdoor code in its equipment and Cisco announced a full review of its own very widely used software.

Translation: a significant portion of the internet may give away your personal information if the hardware and software is not properly managed. Think carefully about who you trust.

There are some steps for improving your security (see: 7 steps to boost business data security) to minimise the risk of something bad happening. Education is paramount; protect yourself as an individual as well as your business by teaching those who use your systems and data about best practice to secure it. Expect to hear more from us on this hot topic.

Internet of Things

A concept that has been around for 15 or so years, the Internet of Things (or IoT for short) is about the networking of physical objects or “things”. The function of these devices will vary, from data collection using sensors to performing simple actions or controlling parts of your home or office. It’s something we’ve looked at in more detail previously.

A great example of this in action is the Hive Active Heating system from British Gas.

According to research house Gartner, there will be 26 billion IoT devices by 2020. This increase in devices presents its own challenges. The design of new networks should consider scalability and cyber security for starters. Old and existing networks may need re-engineering to cope. This area is going to grow quickly.

Big Data

The amount of data in existence grows exponentially. At an event last November, we heard someone who knows what they’re talking about say the world creates 27 EB (Exabyte) of data every 7 days; the same as all data created in 2001. Just one EB is the same as approximately 213 million DVDs.

Big Data is a broad term for data that is so large or complicated that traditional data processing is simply not up to the job of handling it. But it also represents a critical mass of information that can be analysed for new correlations to support business trends, prevent disease, combat crime and so forth.

Better data and analysis will enable businesses to make better decisions to gain competitive edge, be that through realising new opportunities or reducing operating costs.

Our role in 2016 with Big Data will be to help our clients understand what data they have and where it is stored on their computer systems. Data should be secure, touching again on security, but also looking at backup and recovery solutions.

IT is a fascinating topic, even if you’re not a specialist at the nuts and bolts of it, and open-minded businesses should grab the opportunities that reveal themselves as technology develops. It’s always better to do that in a planned and managed way, to avoid letting in new risks. What no-one wants to be is the owner of a business that missed out on its next big chance for growth, or which tried to grab that chance but didn’t protect itself along the way. That’s what the experts are here for!