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2019: Dawning of the Digital Age or Date with Disaster?

As the year 2019 draws to a close I thought I would have a look at some of the new technologies that have gained traction in the market over the last few years. I will explore the changes they have undergone since their creation and the potential effects they could have on the business world. The three areas that have seen significant changes in recent years are Data Security, Robotic Process Automation and Cloud.

Data Security:

The rules of Data Security have changed dramatically with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 that replaced the Data Protection Act 1998. GDPR will have the biggest impact on testing and Quality Assurance processes undertaken by IT companies and IT departments. A survey suggests that as much as 83% of tech providers use live customer data when testing CRM applications. This is risky for companies as this process is now subject to GDPR – exposing the company to the risk of hefty fines if the regulations are breached. There is the obvious advantage for the customer having their data securely protected, with companies having the additional cost and inconvenience of training their testing and QA departments in the principles of GDPR.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA):

Essentially a Robotic Process Automation or RPA is a piece of software that allows a Developer to configure a computer to emulate human behaviours and interactions when carrying out different business processes. Since its discovery by Arthur Samuel in 1959, RPA has progressed leaps and bounds since Natural Language Processing was first invented. Since 2015 RPA has been firmly in the mainstream and is expected to add $6.7 trillion to the tech market by 2025. This brings with it the advantage of a significant increase in national and international economies.

The most significant technological change is the ability to now create a robotic workforce managed by humans using RPA. Employers are very likely to embrace these advances in RPA as they will save time training staff on business processes and money on staff wages due to not having to pay a human to do a ‘robot’ job. Looking at this from a different perspective, an increase in the use of RPA in the workplace could damage the labour market and cause mass unemployment. The consequences could be that staff develop a negative attitude to technology advances.

Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is one of the world’s most rapidly growing technologies. Cloud computing or ‘online’ solution means that a cloud provider (e.g. Microsoft) runs the servers as opposed to the server being ‘on premise’ meaning housed by the users. The term ‘Cloud Computing’ first appeared in 2006 when big tech companies such as Google and Amazon used it to describe a new trend of accessing software over the web instead of desktop. In 2019 ‘Cloud’ encompasses: Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Community Cloud, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Massive Growth. Cloud Computing has its clear advantages of being low cost, powerful, resilient, secure and easily accessible. Not to mention the encouragement to experiment and invent coupled with the ability to be productive from anywhere in the world.

However, all the abilities of Cloud Computing rely on there being an internet connection. If there are connection problems the Cloud will lose its usefulness. This is hugely inconvenient in the business world and cannot be controlled by commercial users – they do not house the servers. There is also a risk that Cloud will become too mainstream so tech providers branding themselves as ‘cloud specialists’ may lose their top spot in the marketplace.

So, it would be safe to conclude that technology is advancing fast. Whilst this has the advantages of increasing data security, reducing costs and improving efficiency; overreliance on technology could be risky for both individual employers and the commercial environment. Employers are recommended to embrace advances in technology that are beneficial for their business but not to completely abandon more ‘traditional’ business processes.

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