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Africa's top game-changing tech trends in 2015

Africa's top game-changing tech trends in 2015.

Based on the expectations of ICT professionals, in Africa 2015 will be a year dominated by security issues, data and enterprise mobility.

ITWeb Africa has compiled a list of top ranking technology trends that, according to feedback from professionals, are expected to have a significant impact on Africa's ICT landscape next year.

Research and analysis company Ovum's 2015 TrendstoWatch: Enterprise Mobility Report suggests that enterprise mobility, driven by consumerisation, will continue to be one of the hottest topics in IT, and high on the list of priorities for all CIOs.

The following have been identified by the Company as key to businesses -

The "mobility mismatch" between employers and employees will persist, even as enterprise IT departments get to grips with consumerisation. For example, the rate of bring your own device (BYOD) behaviour (i.e. employees using personal devices to access corporate data) continues to grow, but it is not being embraced by IT at nearly the same rate.

More businesses will think beyond BYOD – the distinction is formal versus informal and managed versus unmanaged. Informal (unmanaged and largely unrecognized) BYOD usage will slowly be displaced by a more managed approach, due to the introduction of more formal support models for employee-liable connections and devices in larger companies, as device management solutions for smartphones mature. In some companies, particularly those with high security/data-protection needs, a corporate-liable approach will be sustained, possibly alongside formal managed BYOD.

More enterprises will frame enterprise mobility management (EMM) in a workspace strategy. This means framing EMM as part of a wider "workspace" strategy, incorporating management of all endpoints and applications, with the crucial aim of giving employees access to the tools and data they need wherever they happen to be and with whichever device they happen to have in front of them. Enterprise multi-screening behaviour is increasing, and embracing a workspace strategy is the best way to capitalise on it.

Senior line-of-business executives will apply pressure, not just employees. Consumerisation has largely driven the EMM market up to this point, but line-of-business managers – particularly in HR, procurement, and operations – will have an increasing influence on deployments.

• SMEs and the vendors that sell to them should expect 2015 to be more mobile-centric. The vendors and service providers selling to them need to embrace this move as the SME market provides a potential "long tail" of demand – but this will be a challenge for service providers, which are not generally viewed as trusted partners by SMEs when it comes to delivering IT services.

Richard Absalom, senior analyst, enterprise mobility at Ovum, says: "While pressure from end users continues to have an impact on the shape of the EMM market, it is time for enterprises to become more proactive with their mobility strategies and look for ways that mobile devices – whether corporate or employee-owned – and apps can work in tandem with other endpoints to transform the way that people work. Vendors and service providers in the space need to keep expanding the range of features and services that they offer to meet the growing range of demands, and they will also need to continue to build effective partnerships, especially in support of large, global organizations which expect and demand consistent global service delivery."

Wifi a human right?

JJ Milner, chief cloud architect and founder of Global Micro, says from the failure of big data projects to the rise of Wifi as a human right, the next year will see massive shifts in how technology is harnessed.

He shares his thoughts on what will stand out in Africa next year.

Big data, big disappointments. Big data itself is not earth shattering. It's about Big data analytics. I'm not putting down the notion of big data mining in its entirety, but we will begin to see the emergence of the first disappointing big data projects. Big data washing is going to get exposed. I think there is great value to be derived from using big data to answer questions and produce statistics, but the generalist approach to mining raw data is throwing horsepower at the problem instead of math and science.

Wifi declared a human right? Internet access has already been declared a 'basic human right', and it seems that Wifi will soon follow. The Tshwane municipality is already talking about this kind of eGovernment roll-out, but South Africa is still way behind the developed world in terms of Wifi access. We'll be talking about this a lot in 2015.

• The application integration specialisation will rise. Typical SMEs use five to six core applications. Bigger companies can use upwards of 30. So now there is a demand for a service that will help all these applications talk to each other. That specialisation will be a growing and extremely sought-after function and indeed profession.

Dramatic changes in tech tax. Some countries will start to offer tech companies incentives like demanding only 10% of turnover in taxes, and make greater anti-avoidance provisions. Companies that offer these kinds of tax incentives become favourable locations for tech R&D, so it's a worthwhile strategy.

International data privacy wars. Countries will start competing for custom based on their data privacy legislation. In the same way as Switzerland has become a high-end banking destination because of its discretion, other countries will establish themselves as data havens.

The end of feature phones

2015 will represent a tipping point for public service says Martin Walshaw, F5 Networks senior security engineer.

He outlines several issues he believes will impact operations next year.

Lowering of public privacy threshold paves the way for more comprehensive, tailored services, delivered online. While people the world over seem hard-wired with a reluctance to provide governments with "too much" information, the explosion of social networks has made people more comfortable than ever with sharing a bewildering variety of personal information.

One positive and completely unintended result of this across the board lowering of people's privacy thresholds is a new opportunity for governments to roll out more comprehensive, more effective and more tailored services to greater numbers of citizens.

After all, if people are already sharing what they are eating on Facebook, there is little reason to be uncomfortable with, for example, completing a government survey on the subject, which may well help health authorities take steps to improve nutrition or reduce obesity.

Together with increased smartphone and broadband proliferation, this "Facebook effect" could mark a turning point in enabling governments in Asia and around the world to fully leverage the potential of the Internet and serve citizens more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Broadband increasingly viewed as a universal right. As more everyday activities move online the consequences of being on the wrong side of the digital divide have never been more apparent.

Far from slowing down, this tectonic shift in the way people interact with the world is accelerating. And, more than merely making people feel nervous if high-speed connectivity is not instantly on-hand, many of the things that are now inconvenient without ready access to the Internet may well become literally impossible.

This means that the importance of broadband connectivity will grow in direct proportion to the pace at which enterprises and governments relocate existing services and create brand new ones in the cloud.

Indeed, it will not be long before broadband access ceases to be a convenience and becomes, in very real sense, an essential and universal right for citizens in every country in the world.

R.I.P. feature phones. The faithful old feature phone is on its last legs. It is being driven to extinction by the inexorable pressure of cheaper smartphones and customers who don't want to miss out on all the modern digital world has to offer.

Few will mourn its passing. Certainly not those on the wrong side of the digital divide – especially the illiterate – for whom an icon-driven smartphone reprints a lifeline rather than a barrier.

In India, for example, the government of Prime Minister Modi is pushing for everyone to have a bank account, and smartphones are a far more flexible and efficient platform. This, in turn, will fuel a boom in online commerce.

Education gets more personal. The driving force behind digital education has always been the dissemination of information. Today, the challenge is getting the right information into the hands of students, in a form that they are able to easily access and consume at their own pace.

Dumping the curriculum online is simply not enough. The key to success is understanding precisely the end-user student's technology environment – PC or mobile table, 3G link or fibre-to-the-home – as well as their academic ambitions, and then tailoring the delivery accordingly.

In-classroom teaching should also be adjusted based on insights garnered from online education. The proliferation of online courses – particularly those that bestow professional qualifications – has also raised the question of precisely who is doing the work! Reliable authentication will become a critical concern going forward.

The rise of hybrid architecture

Brent Lees, senior product marketing manager at Riverbed Technology, expects that data breaches will grow larger and more frequent in 2015, and the relentless pace of data breaches will continue.

He suggests that traditional security tactics, such as relying on "hardened" perimeters and rigid mobile device management will have little effect at slowing down the bad guys.

These are his predictions for 2015.

Network functions virtualization takes off, even without SDN. 2015 will see continued development of SDN technologies, and buyer confusion will not abate as the incumbent switch and router vendors jockey for position. But NFV, already being widely deployed into service providers, will make its way into "classical" enterprise networks without the need for any SDN refresh (which, curiously, may require new hardware).

Virtualized network functions allow organizations to dynamically provision networks wherever they're needed, on an on-demand basis, independent of any underlying fabric.

Data breaches grow larger and more frequent. Unfortunately, the relentless pace of data breaches in 2014 will continue in 2015. Traditional security tactics, such as relying on "hardened" perimeters and rigid mobile device management will have little effect at slowing down the bad guys.

Enterprises should shift investments and spend more on detection and response. Visibility across all applications, networks, and devices is the first critical step toward improving overall security posture. Establishing a baseline of what's "normal" helps to better isolate actual threats and respond accordingly.

Hybrid architectures become the norm. Even though cloud computing and third party hosting will continue their rapid expansion, on-premise IT will remain a reality for 2015 and beyond. The resulting hybrid infrastructure stack will create challenges for most organizations—including architectural "collisions," where design patterns for on-premise development and deployment don't translate well (or at all) into cloud.

Working through these challenges will require more sophisticated models, policies, identity/access controls, and coding practices to ensure that end-user needs are met consistently across all platforms.

Decision-making becomes primarily driven by actionable analytics. As visibility, control, and optimisation are brought to hybrid networks it will become increasingly important to construct an analytics-driven infrastructure that can take action when problems occur anywhere in the network.

In 2015, more IT organisations will begin instrumenting network architectures with predictive analytics to create self-correcting, self-generating networks that respond to business needs and intents. This will be an ongoing trend starting in 2015.

Location transforms from a constraint into a feature. The technologies that will emerge in 2015—full stack virtualization, pervasive visibility, and hybrid deployments—will create a form of infrastructure mobility that allows organizations to optimize for location of data, applications, and people.

Regulatory policies that govern data locations will cease to become an impediment, and rapid access to that data will become possible for anyone, regardless of where they may happen to reside. Organizations that adopt these technologies will achieve new kinds of competitive advantages as a result.

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