It’s that time of year when things around the office start to slow down a little. Most people are home enjoying the holidays with family, and enjoying the last of their vacation days to get some needed rest and relaxation. For executives it’s also a nice time to reflect on progress made over the year, and start planning for the next. So with some downtime approaching, we thought it would be a good time to look at technology advancements over the past few years, and make some forecasts for how businesses will be leveraging technology in 2016. Here are the top things we expect to see on the radar for next year.

Getting Rid of BYOD Policies

Hopefully this is no surprise, mobile devices are not going away! In fact, they are being used more frequently every day, and will most likely surpass PC usage as the primary business tool within 5 or so years. As this trend continues the line between personal devices and business devices will blur. This presents a unique opportunity for forward thinking businesses. Mobile devices are getting more and more robust, the applications are getting more and more advanced, and they are much more user friendly than their PC and MAC counterparts. As companies get more comfortable with the security of online collaboration and file sharing tools, smart phones and tablets will take over the office, lowering support costs, training efforts, and network complexities. Companies using policies to prevent this evolution will most likely lose employees to the ones that are embracing the change. In 2016 we expect to see companies opening the door to BYOD devices and building processes to harness their potential.

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New Tools to Manage Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) has been a hot topic for the last few years, but unfortunately customer management tools have been lacking in what they consider to be CX features. Most are still focused on record keeping and data storage, which leaves a big gap when you’re trying to create customer evangelists at different points in the customer journey. In 2016, expect to see companies integrating various tools to compensate for the void in the CX market. As we get towards the Q3 in 2016 we should see the software companies get their acts together and release real CX tools. Instead of just the relabeled CRM packages, and the very singularly focused experience management tools we have today.

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Security in the Cloud

With the mobile tidal wave approaching, companies have turned towards new ways to manage security. Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware programs are not nearly enough to combat the sophistication of today’s hackers. Expect to see cloud-based security services grow over the next few years and companies start to explore and make the transition to them. Small business relying on one or two internal IT employees to maintain their networks, computers, applications and advanced security will have difficulty keeping up. And employing the entirety of the team necessary to do is not cost effective for small businesses. In 2016 expect to see security services move outside of companies’ networks and into established cloud-based security services companies.

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Apps, Apps, Apps

We are in the very early stages of the App revolution. In 2016 we’ll continue to be bombarded with a firehose of new applications for mobile devices. The pace will continue to increase and many small businesses will have difficulty keeping up with what’s new, and an even harder time trying to coordinate which team members are using which apps. The key to moving past these issues in 2016 is app integrations. With the advent of technologies like REST API’s, companies can connect a number of disparate systems together to share data. Look for companies in 2016 to start taking advantage of these integrations and decentralizing the control of the apps in use to the individual departments. Companies that can control how data is stored, synced and managed will be able to jump well ahead of the application overload that will hold others back for the next couple years.

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Dramatic Shift in How Companies View IT

For way too long companies have considered the IT departments to be the “tech guys” that do “computer things”. This mentality has held back the potential of technology integrations in businesses for years. Companies today are starting to realize that stereotype is outdated and harmful to business. The focus in 2016 will be to minimize the amount of time and budget spent on the old IT (management and maintenance of technology), and allocate as much time and budget on the new IT (strategically using technology to scale, increase profit, and enhance customer experiences). Expect businesses in 2016 to start letting go of management and maintenance IT functions; pushing them out of the business to drive down costs and shift dollars into creating new business models built around better embracing and leveraging technology. This will continue over the next few years, and the companies that successfully make the transition will be in a better position to grow in the tech economy of tomorrow.