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The 10 tech trends for 2015

Tuesday, January 6th 2015 by Tristan Wilkinson
Industry maven and Cable.co.uk tech columnist Tristan Wilkinson predicts the tech trends that will be making waves in 2015.

It’s that time of year when you can be guaranteed two things with complete confidence: anyone in tune with technology will be inundated by news from CES, and that self-styled ‘thought-leaders’ will share their wisdom on the forthcoming twelve months based on having watched the telly. Recognising a bandwagon when I see one, my good friends at Cable.co.uk have sent a delegation to CES and I’m left to pen my ten tech trends for 2015. Without further ado...

One provider to rule them all

Service levels, not price, the new battleground

EE, which has the UK's largest 4G network, is in discussions about being taken over by BT

The proposed takeover of the EE business by BT announced late last year creates the interesting scenario of significant market consolidation and the reality of consumers being able to buy all of their services from one supplier. But will they be forced to compromise on one or more elements of the offer?

The digital skills desert becomes drier still

Business will start exerting real pressure on politicians to close the skills gap

The skills shortage has been discussed at length in 2014 but has been largely an academic discussion. This year its effects will be felt. As business confidence returns and investment is contemplated, the lack of appropriate digital skills could hamper investment and job creation. Politicians and academics will continue to discuss the ‘national impact’ – a narrative of the general election that will manifest at a hyper-local level in the form of massive regional discrepancies that will impact local economies as small businesses struggle to hire the right talent.

The internet of things, wearables and other animals

The hype will give way to important and innovative usage models

If you haven’t heard the term ‘internet of things’ or ‘wearables’ in the past year then you haven’t been paying attention. You can even now buy a magazine that provides you with all you need to know about the much discussed Apple watch, even though it isn’t yet for sale and whose specs are yet to be announced! Although the media is focused on some of the more entertaining aspects of wearables and the internet of things, 2015 will start to see some important mainstream usage models, from utilities smart meters to sensors on public transport.

Tech to become a political football

Lots of photos ops in funky offices and high tech clean rooms

Kicked into one another's halves, back and forth point scoring on digital issues is inevitable this year

It is only seventeen weeks until the general election and amongst all of the usual point scoring we will see between the political parties there will hopefully be a serious discussion about the role of government to promote the benefits that technology and skills can bring to individuals and the economy as a whole. Both the Labour and Conservative parties have in recent months published various manifesto thought pieces to prove their technology credentials. I, for one, hope this represents a moment for them to truly engage and develop holistic policies beyond 'superfast' and 'tech city'.

We'll all become more data aware

Consumers will become increasingly aware of what they are sharing and want to be more informed

For the last ten years or so there has been a deal between us the consumer, and business: I can have my service for free, you use my data to make money. Most of us appear happy for this status quo to exist – we seem on the surface to get something for nothing – but there is a cost. We are sharing almost everything about our lives, most of the time unaware. Many cars now have SIM cards – they are constantly tracked, while almost all of us are carrying in our pockets a means by which not only can we be located, but also what we are doing and with whom we are doing it.

The rise of the hacker

More significant news stories of security breaches for organisations and individuals

This is not one I’m very happy about but I think it is inevitable. Over the Christmas holiday both Sony and Microsoft were victims of hackers taking down their gaming platforms and hackers engulfed Sony for weeks over the launch of a controversial film. We hear that police forces and government military agencies are increasing their investments in cyber capabilities, creating a new cyber arms race.

Gadget onslaught

Selfie sticks will be outlawed in public spaces – hopefully

The model number goes up by one and we will once again rush to grab the latest minor upgrade

As you read this CES will be in full swing in Las Vegas. Within months we will all be salivating over the new toys that will make our existence on this planet more meaningful. Wearables will finally start to make it into the high street, although there is still doubt about the size of the market for smart watches and the like.

Recycling shame

A national trade-in scheme to securely shred your data

This is a very real problem and one that I’m very interested in. It is estimated that there could be over 10 million unused PCs, tablets and other high-tech gadgets under people’s beds. Superseded by newer tech they now lie unused, bereft of residual value and because of the personal data they contain, are difficult to sell or donate.

Digital healthcare

Consumers will want to use tech to manage their health needs

The news is full of discussion about the future of the NHS. GPs, community health services, hospitals and A&E admissions are all very important, but healthcare is much more than the just the places where consultations take place. For years technology has promised to unleash a new paradigm in healthcare, but has failed to deliver in any meaningful way. With the financial pressures currently on the NHS, could 2015 the year that tech finally takes hold?

The social high street

Smart independent retailers will use tech to enhance their customer relationships

High street retailers are going to need to focus increasingly on the interpersonal experience

The end of November last year saw a new phenomenon in the UK: Black Friday. Traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US, it was invented to create a sales spike while families were together in one place. It has put even more pressure on independent high street retailers who can’t match the aggressive price-led deals that are an increasing staple of online shopping. One way for the high street to fight back is to focus more on experience and service, neither of which are easy to provide online.

Tristan Wilkinson, Cable.co.uk technology columnist

Tristan has worked within the technology sector for over twenty years in a variety of leadership roles for organisations such as Intel, PSInet and most recently digital skills charity Go ON UK. He regularly speaks on digital skills and inclusion topics and worked closely with the strategy unit at No. 10 on the Tech City and Start Up Britain Initiatives. Tristan now runs his own consultancy, Digital Citizens

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