With technology advancing at a rate of knots, it’s hard to keep track of what’s hot and what’s not. That’s why we’ve gathered some of the industry’s best to run through the tech trends that franchises can’t afford to ignore this year
Technology is now a key part of any business and the franchise sector is no exception. Without a doubt, those businesses that deploy the right technology gain an edge over the competition. So what are the key technologies and trends that will help franchises succeed in 2016? Here’s what the experts think.
Cyber-security and the Internet of Things
Robert Arandjelovic, director of security strategy EMEA, Blue Coat Systems
Unfortunately, when it comes to cybercrime and hacking, it’s likely that 2016 will see a continuation of the trends of last year. In fact, many businesses are becoming desensitised to news on data breaches.
A survey from CyberEdge last year found that 52% of organisations expected their networks to be compromised this year. However, while we’re in tough times, I’m hopeful that we’ll arrive at a turning point in the near future. Cyber security is already moving up the agenda to the boardroom level as an area of significant business risk. Furthermore, new legislation in Europe, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive, should help push organisations further towards prioritising and formalising their response.
Hackers tends to target the weakest link in networks, which means franchises need to shore up their defences. Basic things like enforcing a minimum standard of cyber security and auditing external points of entry to their network and systems are key.
The importance of security only grows with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). While IoT presents plentiful opportunities to franchises, there are also significant and unique security risks. IoT devices themselves are fundamentally different from what IT security infrastructures have had to deal with in the past. They serve different purposes and have different physical characteristics than traditional computers. They are typically mobile and this makes them harder to maintain in a secure network. This means a new approach is required.
For me, one of the big developments of 2016 will be how cyber security makes IoT a safer bet for businesses. Companies that become successful in using IoT will be those that manage to create a really useful product and ensure its overall security. Ultimately, security cannot take a back seat with the growth of IoT and that gives franchises a lot to think about in 2016.
Big data and visualisation
Clement Levallois, assistant professor, EMLYON Business School
The transparency of big data will have a telling impact on franchises in 2016. Big data has been around for years but we still struggle to present data in an effective and clear manner. The increasing development of smart devices will increase the amount of data available to marketers, so having a clear way of communicating and presenting this data will be even more important.
Of particular interest to franchises will be textual data, such as customer reviews on Amazon or comments posted on a company’s Facebook page. Such information is of great value to consumer-facing businesses but only if they know how to interpret and use it.
Franchises will have to create new teams with skill sets to take advantage of this trend. Firstly, they will need to consider employing the services of statisticians and mathematicians who will be able to analyse the data. There’s also a greater requirement for companies to have a team of ‘hackers’; computer engineers capable of coping with big and unstructured data. Thirdly, ‘domain specialists’ will be able to translate what the data means in business terms and come up with ideas for the business based upon it. The best teams might even encompass a fourth role in the shape of a designer who can assist in speeding up the exploration of datasets with visualisations before presenting them to the management team in a compelling manner.
Targeted advertising is likely to remain the primary use of this data. This is because developing more personalised and effective advertising is a key strategy for franchises. But there will also be more developments in dashboarding in 2016. This means fewer pie charts and more customised graphics and enhanced interaction.
Wearable technology and robotics
Dr Peter Chadha, CEO, DrPete Technology Experts
Automation and smart technology only looks sets to grow in 2016 and the growth of cardless payment technology will further hasten the demise of cash.
Elsewhere, robotics will provide the underbelly of resource that economically successful societies have enjoyed from the times of the slaves in Egypt and Rome to the machines and computers of recent times.
Robotics can help franchises maximise the value of their people by letting them focus on where they add value. While it is still early days for many, sectors such as financial services, online gaming and gambling are already looking into this and applying it.
Wearable technology is also growing on a daily basis, not just with technophiles but with later adopters such as stay-at-home parents who desire a healthier lifestyle. These groups are finding the technology reasonably easy to use as much of it combines with their smartphones apps, meaning they aren’t put off by the techie stuff.
Wearables enable users to receive message and prompts without reverting to their phone, thus making it a lot more discreet. They also have the ability to monitor activity, which has big implications for business. However, for any franchises considering how to make use of wearables in the workplace, it is vital to think about the human beings that they are designed to help. Especially if the aim is to improve productivity, it’s important to consider the ethical issues at play before deciding whether wearables really are the best solution.