Five Technology Resolutions for the New Year
Thomas G. Stephens, Jr., CPA, CGMA, CITP
The Holiday Season provides an opportunity for reflection as well as prospection. For many, it also involves establishing goals and making resolutions for how they will live their lives in the coming year. In that vein, I might suggest the following five technology resolutions that you should consider for 2019.
- Stay on Top of the Trends
- Be Aware of Emerging Technologies
- Appreciate the Value of Mobility
- Understand that Much of the Business World Remains Microsoft-Centric
- Never Doubt the Importance of Security and Privacy
For many professionals, committing to these five technology resolutions will go a long way toward ensuring personal and organizational success when it comes to managing and profiting from using technology. So, in that spirit, let us now examine each of these technology resolutions.
Stay on Top of the Trends
It is far too easy for us to do things tomorrow the same way we did them yesterday, while the world around us seems to be in a never-ending race to change. For this reason, it is more important now than ever to stay on top of emerging trends in technology and consider how these trends will affect our organizations and those of our trading partners. For example, notice in the following graphic provided by Statista that sales of PCs and tablets are expected to decline through 2022, while sales of laptops are expected to remain relatively flat. Likewise, other key technology trends emerging in major waves today include business intelligence platforms such as Microsoft Power BI, data integration and sharing across multiple platforms and vendors, 5G cellular networks for faster data, geo-spatial plotting of data, and fully-digital smart homes.
Each of the technology trends mentioned above has the potential to impact virtually all types of organizations in differing ways and to various degrees. However, those organizations who identify key trends early will be in the best position to capitalize on them, while those who are late to the game will be battling for second place. Resolve today to stay on top of technology trends and consider carefully how your organization could potentially capitalize on key trends to differentiate from your competitors.
Be Aware of Emerging Technologies
As everyone knows, technology continues to evolve at a blistering pace. Newer technologies such as blockchain and machine learning are beginning to become mainstream, while some of our traditional technologies are all but dead – really, who uses a fax machine anymore? In much the same way as we need to stay on top of technology trends, we should be aware of emerging technologies and the potential implications and impacts associated with these technologies. For instance, much has been written and said about blockchain and its potential impact on all types of businesses. But how many professionals have even a fundamental, conceptual understanding of what blockchain is? Or artificial intelligence? Or machine learning? Or “Big Data”? Each of these emerging technologies could cause significant disruption in and across organizations of all sizes, in all industries, yet few business professionals have even the vaguest notion of what these tools are or their potential impact. Far from suggesting that we need to be experts in all emerging technologies, resolve to understand at a basic level the technologies that are appearing today and the potential impact that they will have on your organization and across the entire spectrum of the business community. Failing to do so will place us forever in a reactive – instead of proactive – state.
Appreciate the Value of Mobility
There can be no doubt that we live in a mobile world and that the emergence of mobile devices has forever changed how we receive, process, and compute information. The handheld devices of today contain as much computing and storage capacity as our full-size computers of just a few years ago, and tomorrow’s mobile devices will be more powerful and capable than those available today. Leading-edge organizations have already recognized the value of mobility and re-developed their websites to provide “responsive” design, so that the website is always optimized for appearance no matter the size of the device that is used to view it. Likewise, many organizations have made it much easier to purchase products from mobile devices through features such as “one-click buying.”
Examples such as the two cited above should naturally cause us to think about whether our organizations have embraced mobility not only for today, but also for the future. Are we considering the deployment of websites, applications, portals, and similar technologies in the context of accessing these tools using traditional devices in addition to mobile devices? Have we addressed the risks associated with mobile computing and taken care, for example, to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and Mobile Device Management (MDM) software? Keep in mind that our mobile devices are just smaller versions of our traditional computers and, therefore, we need to address the security risks associated with them just as much, if not more, as we do with traditional devices. Resolve that we will appreciate the value and the opportunity that mobility brings to our teams and to our trading partners, but also that we will take care to address the risks that are associated with mobility too.
Understand that Much of the Business World Remains Microsoft-Centric
Although other technology companies – Apple, Amazon, and Google, just to name a few – are enjoying great success today in personal and corporate markets, we must understand that much of what we do as business professionals remains driven largely by Microsoft. With historically strong franchises in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Server tools, coupled with the hugely successful Microsoft Surface product line and large and growing presence in the Cloud, Microsoft is both a visible and dominant player in business environments. For this reason, it is important to keep an attentive eye on various Microsoft products, services, and initiatives.
To illustrate, subscribers to Office 365 are afforded early access to new features in various Microsoft Office applications, but few take advantage of these tools because they are unaware that the new tools have become available. Likewise, Microsoft offers a multitude of options for licensing software, yet many businesses continue to license their Microsoft-provided software using outdated and, oftentimes, more expensive means. Because most businesses are somewhat Microsoft-centric – likely including yours – resolve to learn more about new features, new products, and new services that the company makes available so that you and your team can take full advantage of these resources. Specific items to monitor in the upcoming year include whether you should upgrade to Office 2019 or Office 365, when will you upgrade to Windows 10 if you have not done so already, should your organization move to Microsoft 365 as a means of licensing both Windows and Office, and is it time to upgrade to Server 2019 or move your infrastructure to the Azure cloud.
Never Doubt the Importance of Security and Privacy
In what may be the understatement of the century, security and privacy concerns and issues are everywhere with new data breaches being reported on seemingly a daily basis. The unfortunate truth behind virtually all these breaches is that they are caused by human error, not by technology failures. To that end, not only must we deploy the proper security tools in our organizations, but also, we must recognize the importance of the “human element” and ensure that our team members are appropriately trained. To be effective, such training should include ensuring that team members understand today’s risks and the important role they play in the organization’s overall security efforts. Resolve that each team member comprehends that keeping sensitive data secure is a whole-team effort and that a failure anywhere could potentially create financial hardship for all concerned. Remember, your team members really do want to do the “right” thing and that it is in their financial best interest to do so – they just need to know what the “right” thing is!
Yes, the technology landscape continues to change at breakneck speed. And sometimes the breadth, depth, and speed of change can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, that need not be the case. By developing technology resolutions to address the five issues outlined in this article, you will be in a much better position to manage and profit from technology, not just in the New Year, but all those that follow.
Wishing you all the best for a healthy, happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2019!
In addition to being a CPA, Mr. Stephens is a shareholder in K2 Enterprises, LLC , where he develops and presents continuing professional education programs on a variety of subjects, including information security. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.