With 2020 on the horizon, companies and tech professionals are looking to the future in hopes of anticipating what the year has in store. While it is impossible to guarantee what will happen, certain trends are likely to have a significant impact, shaping the business world and the employees who work in it. If you are wondering what you can expect in tech trends for 2020, here’s what you need to know.
The world of technology changes quickly, and new skill sets become critical to an organization’s success frequently. Plus, tech is becoming increasingly ingrained in nearly every industry, bringing IT workers into workplaces that previously had little, if any, onsite tech pros.
The end of the year is approaching quickly. During this time, people are often focused on celebrating the holidays as well as finishing up tasks that need to be completed before the new year begins. Additionally, this time of the year often serves as a time for planning. Professionals often look to the future with optimism, dreaming of what the future may hold.
Advances in the world of technology often leave many people fearful. They may assume that emerging tech – like advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) – will take over their jobs, leaving them with nowhere to go.
While technology will make certain positions obsolete over the coming years, the news isn’t all negative. According to a report, 75 million jobs may disappear by 2022. However, 133 new jobs will emerge during that same timeframe, creating a net gain of 58 million positions.
The H-1B visa program is often viewed as an opportunity. For foreign professionals, it’s a chance to join the American workforce for a period and may pave the way for permanent residency. For companies, the H-1B visa program gives them access to skillsets that may not be readily available in their area, particularly in in-demand niches and while unemployment remains low.
The Bay Area is known as a major technology center, and it continues to be part of a major tech boom. Tech employment in the region continues to grow rapidly, far outpacing other sectors and reaching record highs, even when compared to the dot-com era. Additionally, the San Francisco-San Mateo area is grabbing a bigger piece of the technology pie thanks to the unprecedented surge.
When corporate leaders think of protecting corporate data, they usually think in terms of protecting it against cyberattacks. But in reality – even if a company is fully protected against external threats – those aren't the biggest issues companies face with respect to their data.
Storage devices have high reliability, but they aren't fail proof. Companies need their storage plans to account for failures. This means using clustering, mirrored disks, and replication to ensure that data is available on another device.
Most companies have automated backups, but the backup plans often aren't reviewed and updated. This means it's easy to miss new devices and omit them from the procedure. Backups also need to be monitored, to make sure the automated scripts work properly. Lastly, companies rarely test restoring from backup, but this should be done in order to verify the procedure and understand how long it will take.
People make mistakes that expose corporate data. Phishing campaigns have convinced users to provide corporate bank accounts. But it doesn't take a phishing campaign. Users often send sensitive data through unencrypted email. They share passwords because getting set up properly takes too long. They mistype a command and the system doesn't require confirmation before executing it. Issues like these can largely be addressed through better training or redesigning systems.
The biggest data issue companies face, though, is corrupt data. When incorrect data feeds into other corporate processes, the company's decision making is inevitably adversely affected. Corrupt data entry is often caused by poorly designed applications; it can also occur when data is force-fit into legacy systems because creating a new application with appropriately named data fields would take too long. At the same time, migrating data from legacy fields to new applications introduces possibilities for error when fields are mapped wrong. In many businesses, the same data is entered into multiple systems, with chances of incorrect or inconsistent values.
Data is at the heart of business operations, and it's unquestionably important for companies to protect it. Doing so effectively requires taking a broad view of the data at rest, in transit, and when it's accessed by both man and machine.
Package delivery sounds like a low-tech industry: carry a cardboard box from one location to another. But DHL is finding surprising ways that high-tech can transform the delivery industry.
Amazon made headlines when it received approval to test delivery via drones. The Amazon Prime Air service hopes to deliver packages within 30 minutes. But while the FAA just gave Amazon permission to test its drone delivery service this year, DHL has already tested using drones to deliver packages in Germany. Drones were used to provide delivery service to an island which previously received deliveries by boat. While the flights were autonomous and there was a restricted area set aside for the drone project, a ground station monitored the flights and was ready to take action if needed. The ground crew also stayed in touch with air traffic control.
DHL worked with one of its clients, Ricoh, to use Google glasses to speed the process of creating packages. Instead of working with a paper order list and a handheld scanner to record the selected packages, the order picker can view all the needed info on the glass. Though it was only used for a limited time during a pilot project, the Google Glass-equipped employees filled orders more quickly and accurately.
There's no mention of whether Google's self-driving cars might help DHL deliver packages by truck, but self-driving vehicles might make it into DHL's warehouses in the form of self-driving forklifts.
Printing Products on Demand
In one vision of the future, delivery services aren't needed because home-based 3D printers will create products immediately upon purchase. For higher-end products that need better printers than households could afford, DHL has even considered warehousing high-end 3D printers to fulfill those orders.
The company is experimenting with high-tech software, too. The logistics business is heavily data-driven. DHL has plans to use big data to improve operations through optimizing delivery routes. Big Data may help the company improve customer relations by predicting customer behavior. It might also identify new lines of business by selling market intelligence to its customers.
Small companies often partner with bigger companies to work together on projects. The small companies gain access to opportunities they can't win on their own; the bigger companies get the smaller firms' specialized expertise, dynamism, and creativity. For these partnerships to succeed, the responsibilities and obligations of both firms need to be spelled out clearly in the contract. These are some of the aspects contracts should address:
The most basic aspect of the contract will be the price to be paid for services. Neither side should agree to the contract if the financial terms are unsatisfactory. However, even if the contract's financial terms are acceptable, other contract points may need to be negotiated.
Indemnification clauses state that one of the parties to the contract will be held harmless, in case a third party sues over a specified matter. Typical contracts dictate that the larger firm will not be liable for matters related to new technology introduced by the smaller firm. Because the smaller firm cannot rely on the resources of the larger company to support it in case of a lawsuit, indemnification insurance may be necessary for both parties to be adequately protected.
• Non-infringement of intellectual property
These clauses state that the smaller firm represents that its intellectual property is its own, and not infringing any existing patents. Agreeing to this clause can be difficult for firms that use emerging technologies where patents have been applied for but not yet granted. This contract clause may therefore require negotiation and flexibility on the part of both parties to reach agreeable wording.
• Filing for patents
If the partnership between the two firms will generate patentable ideas, the contract should specify where patents will be applied for and which party will pay for the applications. Big firms may have global reach and require patent coverage around the world, while the smaller firm may not have resources to apply for patents in every market. Frequently, contracts specify that the larger firm will pay the fees in certain markets or split the cost of filing fees with the smaller firm.
• Limitation of liability
Limitation of liability clauses cap the damages that can be owed due to breach of contract. Agreements between large businesses often cap damages to a low multiple of the prior year's fees. However, small firms may be heavily dependent on a single contract, and financially devastated if the contract is breached. Negotiating the limit to an appropriate value is one of the critical points to be addressed when large and small firms need to do business together.
Companies invest heavily in technology to protect themselves from cyberthreats: firewalls, antivirus software, and other tools to keep out intruders. Not all threats are external, however. Whether deliberately through malicious actions, or accidentally through online naïveté, company employees present the biggest threat to corporate information security.
Deliberate Misuse of Resources
Employees can misuse company computer resources in several ways that expose a company to risk. Use of the Internet for personal matters, like online shopping or visiting social media sites, can overload a company's computer network. This can mean companies invest money to upgrade a network when that isn't supported by business needs, and the money would be more beneficial elsewhere.
When employees bring adult content into the office, they can create a potentially hostile work environment that can lead to sexual harassment lawsuits. Employees who use corporate resources to download illegal copies of software, movies, or music also expose the company to lawsuits. In addition, these sites are also often infested with malware, so files brought onto company computers can risk introducing viruses and other dangerous software into the corporate environment.
Employees also misuse resources by removing them from the company. If files aren't appropriately protected, employees can remove confidential company information by emailing them or carrying them out on a USB drive. Employees may be able to take advantage of code bugs to escalate their privileges in an application, and view data they aren't supposed to be able to access.
Accidental Exposure of Company Data
Phishing and social engineering are still extremely effective ways for hackers to gain access. It's surprisingly easy to trick humans into sharing confidential data like passwords and company bank accounts. Employees also can accidentally expose company data if they lose a company laptop or access the company network from an insecure hotspot. The increased popularity of BYOD means that company data is accessed from devices the company doesn't control. If these devices aren't appropriately protected, confidential company information may be at risk.
Use Technology and Training to Increase Security
Companies that want to protect themselves from these risks need to take a comprehensive approach to information security. They need to use the right technological tools; firewalls and antivirus software remain important. They need to have – and enforce – policies that govern the appropriate use of company resources; these policies should also govern the handling of company information on non-company, BYOD devices.
But the most important step companies can take is to train their employees to recognize online risks, and how to defend against them. Educated employees will help defend against these online dangers because they recognize they aren't only a threat to information security; information security failures that seriously damage a company are a threat to their job security as well.