At this time of year, it’s traditional to reflect on the year that’s been and think about the year ahead. What can we do better in 2020? And what does the year have in store for us?
Here are some of the Grant McGregor team’s predictions for 2020.
We’re going to consider what 2020 has in store for the typical UK SME.
At this time of year, predictions tend to vary between the hopelessly obvious to the wildly overexaggerated.
There are some predictions that are very easy to make:
• There will be at least one high-profile data breach in 2020
• Hackers will continue to devise new attack vectors
• Many companies will suffer from a cyber attack they could have prevented if they had an effective upgrade and patch programme and closed known vulnerabilities.
In these regards, at least, 2020 will be about more of the same: there will be a continuing need for basic IT good housekeeping messages to be pushed by IT vendors, suppliers, consultants and internal IT teams.
But, there are other areas which will have a decisive impact in 2020 and for which predictions are much harder to make, for example:
• Who will win the Democratic nomination in the USA presidential election?
• Will Donald Trump manage to win two terms as USA President?
• Will Brexit happen? And, if it does, what will it look like? What will be the impact on the countries and the unity of the UK? If it doesn’t happen, how will that be achieved?
And, whatever happens, how will we repair our fractured politics?
Neither type of prediction – either the easy to make or the hard to know – are particularly helpful.
So, instead, we’re going to look somewhere in the middle ground. Our predictions may not be as exciting as presidential elections or as guaranteed to happen as a company suffering a data breach, but hopefully they are useful to consider as part of your planning for 2020.
1. You’ll implement some kind of AI tool in 2020
AI has reached the mainstream. You may well already have deployed AI tools in your organisation. Either way, it’s a pretty good bet that you will be implementing at least one AI-powered application in 2020.
Whether it’s the marketing team asking for an AI-powered social media schedule optimisation application (such as welikeit) or the operations team driving efficiencies through the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (such as Digital Workforce) or your own IT department streamlining support requests through the use of online chatbots – AI’s impact is finally being felt in the everyday.
2. Cyber Essentials will win more fans in 2020
Research in 2019 – five years after the government’s Cyber Essentials scheme first launched – found that only 11% of respondents in UK businesses were aware of Cyber Essentials.
It’s a startling statistic that indicates that many UK businesses might still not be paying enough attention to getting even the basics of cyber security right.
The Cyber Essentials scheme will be changing in 2020. Back in October 2019, the National Cyber Security Centre announced that the IASME Consortium will be its sole Cyber Essentials Accreditation Body from April 2020. As an existing Cyber Essentials Certification Body, Grant McGregor will be working with them to ensure that we can continue to offer this powerful scheme to our customers.
It has proved to be an essential first step for many organisations that want to ensure the – well, essentials – are truly in place for their IT security. It can also help deliver a competitive edge. If you haven’t already done it, make 2020 the year you get Cyber Essentials Certified.
3. We expect funding for the scheme will continue in 2020
At this stage, we’re not completely sure whether the Scottish Government’s support for Cyber Essentials will continue in 2020 but, if it does, we highly recommend you apply for a grant. Grants up to the value of £1,000 were available through 2018 and 2019.
Qualifying criteria includes: you’re an SME with fewer than 250 employees; you have a registered base in Scotland; you use a connection to the Internet; and your business is not already Cyber Essentials Certified.
4. Data will re-emerge as a hot topic
After the panic around the GDPR deadline had passed, data management dropped off many organisations’ agendas. Now that the dust has settled, we expect that data will once again emerge as a significant issue for organisations – and, hopefully, with a healthier, less hysterical approach!
Consumer rights are now better understood, websites are finally offering users the option to manage their privacy settings as standard and we seem to be baking GDPR into normal practice.
If you aren’t up to speed on these essentials, put readdressing these issues top of your agenda in 2020. Who knows what trade deals (or lack thereof) will be affecting our operations after December 2020. This could have a huge impact on services and data residency issues, so it’s worth doing the hard work this year so that you’re in a good place to move forward, whatever 2021 throws at us all.
5. You’ll be asked to review the organisation’s finance systems
At the time of writing, we’ve still no idea what Brexit looks like. Perhaps that was one of the reasons it was so easy to sell – it could be all things to all people. The lack of clarity, even now, three and a half years on from the vote, is quite staggering and is having a devastating effect on inward investment.
Even though this lack of clarity persists, from where we are now, maximum disruption isn’t that hard to imagine. Northern Ireland trade, at the very least, looks set to be confronting some additional paperwork.
If Brexit does go full-steam ahead in 2020, this isn’t just going to have paperwork and, potentially, tax implications. It could mean a lot of additional change – from a second Scottish Independence referendum to a border poll in Ireland. What will the paperwork and tax implications of those be if they result in a “yes” vote? Are your organisation’s documents, document management, tax and finance systems flexible enough to be up to the job?
I’m guessing it will be a rare business who won’t be asked this question in 2020.
6. The love affair with cloud is encountering its first niggles
Most organisations have implemented some sort of migration to the cloud over the last decade. But is our love affair with cloud waning? Certainly, the honeymoon period seems to be coming to an end.
Organisations are starting to raise concerns about the reduced visibility they have over their perimeter. How can you manage something when you don’t know where it is?
In addition, we’re beginning to realise that just because we migrate applications and workloads to the cloud it doesn’t mean we’ve handed over the responsibility for them. They need to be proactively managed to ensure maximum security and minimum cost.
There are lots of benefits to cloud, but we’re beginning to realise they don’t come without some trade-offs.
How have we done? How many of these predictions do you agree with? How many haven’t hit the mark? We’d love to hear your thoughts and start a discussion about what 2020 has in store.
If we’ve hit the mark for you, and you know your organisation will be tackling some of these challenges in 2020, then please reach out.
Grant McGregor can help you manage risk, beef up IT security, get accredited and make Cloud work for you… let us know what you need, and we can help you sail into 2020 fully prepared.
Contact our team on 0808 164 4142.
Image: Andrew Krasovitckii/Shutterstock.com