With a new year upon us and technology continuing to change the way enterprises are run, now is the time to really think about where your company needs to invest in order to ensure that it remains competitive.

Business automation software was once an extra competitive advantage, now it’s an absolute necessity for any organisation that’s looking to remain at the forefront of the industry, allowing it to devote more time to high-level strategy. Likewise, automation used to be the preserve of IT professionals; now staff across all departments must be able to manage complex automated workflows.

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In 2016, it’s expected that all companies will have some degree of automation software at their disposal. Nevertheless, how it is actually implemented is really the key differentiator – and consolidating under one central solution will remain the best approach.

Driven by market demand, technological innovation will no doubt continue to evolve at an incredible rate, and it’s clear that the Internet of Things (IoT) and data in the cloud are here to stay. Those that can harness its possibilities in tandem with Big Data and leverage the insights it engenders will have a powerful edge.

IOT and data in the cloud are here to stay

As highlighted by the recent Deutsche Bank-Hewlett Packard deal, large enterprises will increasingly implement private cloud on demand to deliver flexible capacity, in addition to core capabilities. Part of the bank’s long-standing restructuring efforts have included moving to a more flexible digital platform as pressure increases across the financial sector to cut costs, embrace web-based client platforms, and meet new competition from outside of traditional banking.

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Increasingly, new cloud vendors entering the market will seek more innovative technology-funding services to reduce capital and operational costs. In this way, companies will be able to get the benefits of a solution without investing in any hardware or license fees. New market entrants will increasingly offer solutions with minimum risk for the customer – in other words, companies can subscribe to the service and use it as they like straight away since everything is already made available for use. However, if they don’t like it, then they can unsubscribe at anytime.

2016 will also see cloud services continue to evolve towards utility-based offerings. Businesses and private individuals will become increasingly comfortable with the concept of the Internet of Things, of no longer having physical data, and of course the cloud, touching everything from an individual’s smart house service and personal storage, to SMEs embracing a full cloud platform for data, office products, voice and video. It’s incredible to think that some are predicting the number of Internet-connected things will reach or even exceed 50 billion by 2020.

Finally and probably most importantly, in previous years, we’ve seen companies of all sizes embracing  many different technologies and opening their doors to a wide spectrum of software options to tackle their problems. 2016 will see a shift towards reducing the number of platforms and apps, as well as attempts to consolidate data in one central source. This will be done by removing potentially similar software providers from the billing list or moving to an altogether new and more functional platform to ensure the business uses one pivotal solution and consolidated data source.

2016 will see a shift towards reducing the number of platforms and apps

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Steven Boyle, CEO and Founder, icsbusinessbox  An experienced businessman and entrepreneur, Steven has been involved in many technology companies throughout his career that has spanned over three decades. Having been CEO previously at Altran CIS, Steven understands what information business leaders need in order to make important decisions. He is the creator of icsbusinessbox, which has delivered core cloud-based services and software platforms to help the SME community de-risk their businesses, significantly reduce costs, and drive up productivity. He is also Programme Director with one of the world’s largest investment banks.