Digital and Tech Predictions for 2016

What’s going to be trending in 2016? We consulted a few digital experts to see what they predict in the world of technology for the year ahead.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the biggest tech trends in recent years, and things will keep accelerating in 2016, but is that a good thing? Beyond the connect fridge, we’re starting to see a lot of companies experiment with human embedded IoT technology. We’re familiar with chipping our pets, and some of us might be aware that certain members of the military are also chipped; now, we’re looking ahead to the development of more consumer-facing solutions, the sort that could soon see our bank cards, travel cards, and employee key cards all chipped into our hands. Make of that prospect what you will!”

James Laird, London-based editor of Lifehacker.co.uk weblog

People transferring their skills into digital jobs

“When I was a boy ‘IT’ was for businesses. Now it’s for everyone. Before I get my bus pass (not long now!) it will be for everything. ‘Digital’ is becoming all pervasive. Business, people and things will all be connected to each other. This provides enormous benefit and creates tremendous disruption. Will taxi drivers exist in five or ten years (even Uber ones)? There is going to be a massive and growing pressure on ‘middle class’ jobs. When people can digitise their knowledge and offer it globally, cost effectively, it’s a game changer for all sorts of people: accountants, surveyors, lawyers, fund managers, medics and teachers. Digitising your knowledge means finding a way of explaining it to a computer – it’s called coding – so people can access it over the internet.

Smart inquisitive people who are already in these jobs will increasingly look for ways to get inside the digital ‘tent’. They will want to move from being passive to active participants. Some will do it for defensive reasons. The best will do it because they see the opportunity digital offers to redeploy their existing skills in new and innovative ways and, through this, make the world a better place. They  will need a fast and effective route to do this. With CodeClan, the only digital skills academy in the UK outside of London, there will be queues of people – round the corner into Lady Lawson Street – wanting to join our 16-week immersive coding course. That’s my prediction.”

Rab Campbell, employment and partner engagement director, CodeClan digital skills academy, Edinburgh

Improved cybersecurity

“I think we’re going to see a tipping point for cybersecurity in 2016 – the number and size of data breaches has gotten out of control. I expect to see a push by major organisations like Microsoft to help companies improve their security. I also think we’ll have a few serious breaches this year, perhaps even a major security organisation. The one that amazed me was the 000webhost breach – they’re a free hosting service using PHP and MySQL. The hosting service itself was breached and 13.5 million accounts stolen. An analysis of the breached showed that customers’ login credentials were embedded in URLs… just terrible, terrible web security design. In some respects, big businesses are more vulnerable because they have a lot more older technology in use – technology that is no longer considered secure in the current world. New companies using new tech can avoid a lot of those problems. A great way to tackle this problem is to hack yourself first – use the freely available tools that hackers use to exploit web sites. There’s a great blog post on the subject.”

Richard Campbell, founder of Vancouver-based weekly online podcast .NET Rocks! 

More women switching to tech jobs

“Diversity is such a big issue for the industry that I think we’ll see an even greater push this year to encourage many more women into the booming tech sector. We need to lead from the front and all work to ensure that there are many more women on company boards, in senior management teams, and at all levels in the business to make it clear that this is not just talk but that business is serious about the issue.”

Polly Purvis, CEO of ScotlandIS, the Linlithgow-based trade body for Scotland’s information and communications technology industry

The growth of Erlang and Elixr

“I’m looking at programming languages like Erlang and Elixr to make a big splash this year. The performance story is so compelling. Erlang is a bootable functional language that was originally developed in the 80s by Ericsson to run phone switches. It is very fast and very robust. A few years ago, Elixr was introduced as a more modern syntax that runs on Erlang. You get the benefits of a more up to date language that’s easier to learn combined with the raw power of Erlang. Problem is, it’s not a very developer friendly language with a long learning curve. The killer Erlang app is WhatsApp, which you can read more about here. It is serving 900 million users on about 30 machines. Each machine is handling 2 million simultaneous requests at any one time. Also actor model systems like Akka and Orleans seem to be a nice fit for IoT, an area where I predict more failed projects than successes.

Carl Franklin, Connecticut-based executive vice president at AppvNextsoftware development firm

React becoming more popular

“React seems to be the most popular de facto tool at the moment, and I think it will get even bigger this year. It’s a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, originally invented by Facebook and now maintained by them and Instagram. Both Facebook and Netflix use React, as well as Airbnb.

JavaScript, the programming language, is one of those things that’s been around for years – it was invented in 1995, but it has become really popular in the last few years. React itself can also render on the server using Node, and it can power native apps using React Native.

The beauty of something like React and React Native is the ease with which you can create a rich user interface benefitting both the user and the developer.”

Keith Douglas, instructor, CodeClan digital skills academy, Edinburgh