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Carl Cooper shares what businesses should hope to receive under their Christmas trees this year


 While lords a-leaping and ladies dancing might not be particularly helpful in the context of business transformation (although perhaps not unheard of at the annual company Christmas party), we’ve put together an alternative 12 days of Christmas. Although we certainly can’t promise that they’ll all be nestled under your corporate Christmas tree come December 25th, the following 12 things should certainly feature somewhere on your wish list as we move into 2018.


1. The Internet of Things

Gartner estimates that more than 8.4 billion ‘things’ are on the Internet today, a huge 30% rise compared to this time last year. While it is highly unlikely that at least some of your business devices aren’t connected to the IoT, it’s making sense of all the data that these ‘things’ produce which makes the real difference. For businesses, 2018 should be all about taking advantage of the huge amounts of data available to us via the IoT, turning it into valuable insight to drive businesses forward.


2. Advanced Analytics

The need to optimise these mountains of data from the IoT calls for advanced analytics within every business. It’s only with the right analytics in place that businesses can pinpoint the areas where vital efficiency savings can be made, something that’s been recognised by tech giants such as Infor and SAP, who are investing heavily in analytics, resulting in software with built-in analytics as standard.


3. End-to-end systems

It is no longer feasible just to digitize certain areas of the business, hoping that manual and spreadsheet-based systems will be sufficient to fill the inevitable gaps. If you haven’t embarked on a digital transformation project by now, 2018 is the time to do it, before you get left behind. If you do not have a transformational strategy in place, be assured that your competitors most likely will have.


4. 5G

Again driven in part by the sheer volumes of data produced by the IoT but also by advances in virtual reality, 2018 should see the emergence of 5G. Mobile providers will be under increasing pressure to facilitate the optimum levels of connectivity that users expect, regardless of the amount of data involved. Alas, the gift of 5G definitely won’t be here by December 25th, but it’s definitely one to watch out for as the year progresses, following in the footsteps of the advances made by the Gigabit LTE movement these past 12 months.


5. Edge Computing

2018 will see us all move closer to the edge, with the need for the instantaneous connection and communication of devices via the IoT making edge computing the most efficient choice for businesses. Hardware, software and service providers are all predicting such a shift, recognizing the volume and speed of information coming out of the IoT and are investing accordingly.


6. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While not quite the stuff of Hollywood, with Arnie-lookalikes coming from the future to change the course of the world, expect AI to become part of the mainstream during 2018. Businesses need to look out for ‘things’ with AI built-in, making them more autonomous, as well as software with integrated AI for advanced analytics and intelligent processes, enhancing user experiences while increasing efficiencies.


7. A new broom

As the saying goes, new year, new broom. If businesses really are to have any hope of grasping the digital nettle in 2018, now really is the time to rid themselves of any ageing legacy software solutions of old. In our digital age, businesses are only as good as their enterprise software allows them to be, with disparate, creaking applications one of the major hurdles to achieving the levels of business agility and insight necessary to compete in today’s lightning-paced markets.


8. A new software partner?

In a similar vein, what better time to assess your working practices than in the New Year? Too many businesses stick with the status-quo, staying with long-standing suppliers and providers for fear of disrupting businesses processes. In reality, the choice of solutions today is phenomenal, with software available that’s built to address the specific needs of different sectors and different business models. And, the industry experience and expertise that the best suppliers provide should be right up there at the top of any business wish list.


9. Digital twins

Perhaps you’ll find a digital twin gift wrapped under your tree? This is a digital representation of a real world object or system, which is linked to its real life ‘twin’, providing real time updates as to its real time status. Digital twins provide the benefits of comprehensive maintenance savings and improved asset performance, as well ensuring real business insight into operational efficiency.


10. Blockchain

While it might not be of immediate use to your business at the start of the year, blockchain will certainly develop as the year progresses. What should smooth out any business friction, challenging centralised authority and increasing the efficiency of the entire business world, blockchain will almost certainly find its real feet in the financial sector, moving rapidly on to other sectors.


11. Virtual reality

A real game-changer when it comes to how people will interact and expect to interact with all things digital, advances in augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality technologies mean that you can expect these technologies to appear in your haul of presents this year. With leading software providers embedding these capabilities into new offerings, users can expect to virtually interact with both digital and actual objects maintaining a firm grasp on the real world.


12. A comprehensive digital strategy

Perhaps the most important present you can give yourself when it comes to your business is a well-thought out digital strategy. Without a forward-thinking strategy in place, tech investments can be misplaced, ill-judged and ultimately, a waste of money. Furnished with the right strategy, organisations can hit the ground running hard, making full use of technology and the opportunities it creates to grow the business and make a real difference to the bottom line.

For more information on how Sapphire can help you make the most of any gifts you might receive, visit our website now. 

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