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2015 Technology Trends: The Top Stories

December 21, 2015

From cybersecurity to shopping habits, here were the top technology trends in 2015:

Americans are Using More Mobile Devices

Gartner says that mobile devices, such as phones and wearables, are no longer novelties but have become citizens in a new computing environment that spans device types and moves seamlessly from the workspace to public spaces and back. The shift will likely drive big headaches for IT departments, who will be less able to control user endpoint devices and obliged to adapt to the needs of mobile users. It requires greater focus on mobile user experience. PEW Research Center’s recent survey reports that nearly 2/3 of Americans own smartphones and spend an average of 21.7 hours a week consuming content on them—which changes how media and content in general is created, formatted and consumed.

Data Center Industry Consolidates and Diversifies

2015 was a year of big companies snapping up smaller, more cutting edge ones in order to diversify their offerings. Some notable acquisitions and bids to note were: Dell’s $67 billion bid for EMC, Digital Realty’s acquisition of Telx, Equinix’s acquisition of Telecity, IBM’s acquisition of the Weather Company’s data and digital properties and Blackberry’s acquisition of Good Technology. New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today all covered high tech’s acquisition mania in 2015.

Cloud Computing & Storage Continue to Grow

The 81% year over year growth of AWS, Amazon’s cloud and data storage division, pretty much says it all. But no one company owns the cloud and many profit. Salesforce grew significantly because of its cloud offering, Netflix shuttered its last data center in favor of a cloud solution, and Oracle and SAP announced plans to move their enterprise app business to the cloud.

Internet Security Becomes a Top Priority

Cybersecurity had a shaky year, with too many high profile data breaches causing too many personal and corporate headaches. Ransomware made a comeback, with more than $1 million worth of bitcoins paid per month in 2015 to rescue computers from ransomware attacks. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center actually lists some of the year’s most troublesome incidents.

Internet and Telecommunications Industries Focus on Sustainability

In business as in life, greenhouse gas emissions are no longer acceptable. Some of the world’s largest Internet companies are going green aggressively—Apple is investing in solar farms, Microsoft in wind power, and Amazon has committed to running AWS entirely on renewable energy, via its own solar and wind farms (https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/sustainability/). Google’s latest green investments have added 842 megawatts of renewable energy, to be used for powering their data centers and advancing their goal of running entirely on renewable energy by 2025.

New Efforts Toward Cryptocurrency Regulations

Virtual currencies promise to make it possible to send money to countries without sophisticated banking systems, reduce the cost of remittances, and move both information and money more securely. Regulators are struggling to develop guidelines that can protect consumers and prevent money laundering without stifling innovation in payment systems. Fortune, The New York Times and Forbes have been good places to keep current on how efforts to regulate Bitcoin affect the growth of virtual currency internationally.

Holiday Shopping Goes Digital

Why get dressed and go to the mall, pay for parking or stand in line when you can shop thousands of brands from your sofa? Shoppers shifted definitively from stores to online this year. The Wall Street Journal and a National Retail Federation survey confirm that for the first time, more shoppers went online than to stores during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend in 2015.

The Internet of Things Continues to Expand

Nearly five billion Internet of Things units were estimated to have been installed in 2015, according to Gartner’s recent IoT forecast, which goes on to predict a 30% increase in 2016 and nearly 21 billion units installed by 2020. Connected things, from cars to homes to cities will not only populate but dominate the future. Network World, InformationWeek and ZDNet covered some of this year’s IoT news and trends.

Artificial Intelligence: From Autonomous Vehicles to Personal Assistants

Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers. InformationWeek explores the impact of smart machines on businesses and customers. TechCrunch reports that AI-powered apps are capable of performing higher-order tasks and are evolving into “invisible software” that requires no user interface and no human assistance to perform steps in larger business processes.

Internet Media Consumption Continues to Increase

According to CNet, people spent over 25 million hours watching YouTube’s top ten videos in 2015, many of which are clips from US late-night TV show hosts—Fallon, Corden, Kimmel. Social media platforms Snapchat and Facebook are locked in a video numbers war (latest score: Snapchat 6 billion a day versus Facebook’s 8 billion). The Wall Street Journal reports on the dominant players, the growing number of partnerships between Internet and traditional media and how successful video plays are driving companies’ stock prices up.

– With Thanks to Laurent Decosse and TeamLewis for their research