UC and network security were more essential than innovative in 2016 – but these familiar areas will see real innovation in 2017
Unified Communications and Collaboration
Vendors have been touting the benefits of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) for a while now, but in 2016 it’s come of age, and 2017 will see its adoption increase and it will become a truly disruptive technology. Using UC&C, people can finally truly work wherever they are just as effectively as they can in the office – not just check their email on the move.
Of course, we’ve been able to use smartphones to keep in touch with the office for years, but using your mobile when out and about still makes you feel like a second-class employee; you can’t get properly involved in meetings when you’re the only one on a conference call and everyone else can see each others’ facial expressions – nor can you participate in a whiteboarding session on the end of the phone.
UC&C will end that separation between the people who work remotely and those who are office-based. You can see the whiteboard on a video conference, you can join the conversation from your car (preferably when parked!), your home office, or wherever. And using presence and instant messaging you can feel as much a part of the conversation as when you’re there in person.
On top of the obvious personal benefits of being able to avoid the daily commute and being more effective at work, there are also significant benefits to organisations. The reduction in travel and conference call costs are the easiest to measure, but the softer benefits include getting more out of your people and enabling teams to make decisions quicker and better, using all the available knowledge and expertise.
Businesses who adopt UC&C will gain a competitive advantage over those that don’t: if my customer has a problem, and I can assemble the right people to solve it today, and my competitors can’t, sooner or later, they’ll lose business, and I’ll gain it.
Network Security Services
The number and size of security breaches is only going to increase; in fact 2016 saw the largest ever fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office for customer data lost by TalkTalk. 2017 will see more breaches, and possibly larger ones – forcing organisations to act to make sure they aren’t making the headlines.
Until very recently, any organisation that cared about security had to purchase some very expensive equipment, and then hire highly intelligent (and expensive!) people to do drudge-worthy tasks. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliance, for example, requires you to look at all your security log files at least once a day, and the person checking them needs to be able to tell the difference between something that requires attention, and something that doesn’t.
Establishing a good security regime provides many more benefits than simply ticking the security box – important though that is. An in-depth view of what’s really going on in your network enables you to work out what data is accessible where, and to who, and makes sure that your network isn’t being abused. Finding this out can be difficult without the right tools – and those tools are expensive, and require expensive people to make them work.
2016 has seen the increasing adoption of security service providers, where organisations outsource these skilled, repeatable tasks to those who have the economies of scale to do them really effectively - 2017 will see more and more companies change their approach to network security. These managed security services can handle your network and control the content on it, so that you can ensure that you don’t have an exposure waiting for someone – inside or outside the business – to exploit.