For businesses to thrive in the technology driven world we live in, they must keep up with the latest developments, and endorse their use. So, what’s in store for expansion in 2016?

 

Technology is what innovates businesses. It’s what dictates where businesses stand in the arms race that is customer service, growth and profit. As well as their specific contribution, the CDIT industries (creative, digital and IT) are central to the UK’s cultural brand, and therefore to its tourism and export industries. Furthermore, the digital economy permeates all sectors and evidence suggests that continued adoption and exploitation of ICT could generate an additional £35 billion of GVA to the UK economy over the next five to seven years.

The technology and content industries currently contribute £102 billion in gross value added to the economy and are set for above average growth for 2016. Last year saw numerous developments in technology and breakthroughs in various industries. At the forefront of technological developments in the business sector was cyber security, which caused some big issues in 2015.

FinTech is a term that’s hot on people’s lips this year, referring to new solutions which demonstrate an incremental or radical innovation development of applications, processes, products or business models in the financial services industry. Security in particular is essential to the financial industry, with numerous companies making huge losses due to malfunctions in their servers, allowing internal and external hackers to access their finance. This year, 2016, is not only set to see these security issues combated (or at least working towards that aim), but also set to build on the technology we already have, and bring it all together.

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So, firstly, how is cyber security being improved for the future?

Challenging the traditional password centric security model is something that seems completely necessary if we are to stop cyber crime and hacking, in any industry. Some companies were already working on a more technologically advanced model in 2015 – and we were all impressed with Apple’s touch password function as a very basic example of things to come. According to new research undertaken by Planet Biometrics, ‘the total market value of the mobile biometrics and fingerprint recognition segments is expected to grow at an annual rate of 215% between 2014 and 2019’. With a large proportion of the general public now able to access their finances, make transfers, create and cancel bank accounts, this is something that needs to be developed properly.

An example of a solution is AimBrain, developed by Episode1 Ventures. AimBrain is working towards a more modern, and safer means of password security. The technology incorporates biometric data under three modalities: behavioural, facial and voice. AimBrain has developed a biometric security layer for any mobile website or application that dynamically tracks individual user behaviour. Using Machine Learning algorithms, AimBrain’s software both detects what people interact with online and how they do it. It learns user behaviour to create a unique biometric signature through touch location, touch pressure and typing speed. Now that’s smart security!

AimBrain’s founder and CEO Andrius Sutas commented:

We are working towards building the market-leading mobile biometric authentication platform.Our goal is to disrupt the biometrics field and make multiple biometric modalities extremely easy to integrate by anyone.

 

Paul McNabb, Partner at Episode1 Ventures also commented:

The password centric model of security is dead. People cannot remember passwords and get confused or discouraged by complex multi-step sign on processes. The end result is often lost commercial opportunity, consumer frustration, fraud, and poor protection for banks and other service providers.

Interaction, integration and instinctive is where the future is heading – and fast. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging computing concept that describes a structure in which everyday physical objects, each provided with unique identifiers, are connected to the Internet without requiring human interaction. This may sound like something out of a Sci-Fi film, but it’s happening now and something that all businesses will be able to take advantage of in the near future.

At the Consumer Electronic Show 2016 (CES), Samsung highlighted several developments in tech, including one with Microsoft. They will use Microsoft’s Windows 10 software in their tablets and Cortana for their Smart Home voice interactions. Lowe’s, the home-improvement chain for appliances, has partnered with a firm to develop a home remodeling app, enabling customers to design their own kitchens or bathrooms and see them in Virtual Reality. Finally, Intel’s technology will enable users to place themselves in video games. Digital meeting with physical will be the key to business growth this year, and possibly more and more in the foreseeable years to come. ‘Big data’ will also continue to grow, with a lot of stored data transferring over to cloud services: traditional servers will be replaced with virtual ones, as is the trend with most things nowadays.

There was a large focus on the IoT at CES, and there is in 2016 in general: convergence of all products to be controlled by your phone. This is evident in appliances, which are now becoming mainstream, wearables and in cars. Many consumer electronics companies have products that are part of the Internet of Things ecosystem. The next challenge for manufacturers is figuring out how all this technology will fit together, and the challenge for retailers is figuring out how to translate that into the consumer market with ease. Another big issue for both manufacturers and retailers is assuring that the technology, once fit together, will run efficiently without security breach – otherwise we’re back to that cyber security issue.

How are we implementing these innovations and growing them?

As part of an integrated £40 million, three-year, Government programme, called IoTUK – which seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in the Internet of Things and increase the adoption of high quality technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector – the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, has recently confirmed a new interdisciplinary Research Hub. Funding for the hub includes a £9.8 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which will be boosted by partner contributions to approximately £23 million in total.

The hub is a consortium of nine leading universities led by UCL. Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

UK universities are renowned for their creativity, and pioneering research and development. We want the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of Internet of Things technologies, and I know that bringing these universities together with partners from the UK’s thriving tech industry will be instrumental in making this a reality.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said:

In the not too distant future almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world. Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves, and the wider virtual world. But, before this can happen, there must be trust and confidence in how the Internet of Things works, its security and its resilience. By harnessing our world-leading research excellence this PETRAS research Hub will accelerate IoT technology innovation and bring benefit to society and business.

Equally important to the UK economy, and its standing within the global economy, is the fusion of technology with the creative and digital industries. For example, reportedly, 80% of the US’s productivity advantage over the UK is derived from better use of digital technology. The Digital Catapult Centre, now with a base in Brighton as part of Brighton University, aims to help accelerate the UK’s digital economy by providing entrepreneurs, SMEs, researchers and corporate organisations with a physical space to meet and collaborate on digital innovation and development projects. This centre in Brighton will build on the success of the University of Brighton’s Brighton Fuse and FuseBox24 projects, taking an active and leading role in innovation, providing significant growth and investment in technological research and knowledge transfer.

So, watch out for new and exciting developments in 2016; keep up with technology and your business will never be left behind.

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