Technology trends set to shake up 2015: Page 2 of 3

Machine learning will be the new frontier for competitive advantage

In 2015, businesses will begin to make full use of big data services in the cloud and we expect machine learning to grow exponentially across the retail, manufacturing and health care sectors in particular. Machine learning is the veritable next step in data analytics and is essentially a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Rampant growth will be driven by three factors: broader access to machine learning tools and services, massive computing power connecting systems and services, and the explosion of online data. These developments will create more opportunity for organizations to use machine learning for data-driven decision making.

One way we expect to see machine learning positively impact both SMBs and enterprises is through the rise of mobile digital assistants. From a sales perspective, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2016, more than US$2 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.

Whereas for SMBs, mobile digital assistants like Cortana will help them manage the little things so they can focus on the big things instead. With the power of a search engine behind it, Cortana is able to learn more about its user and keeps track of things that interest the user, make helpful suggestions and provide relevant reminders. With mobile digital assistants capable of learning how to best serve users, business owners and employees can spend less time worrying about mundane activities and can instead focus on higher value added activities.

Niche apps and mobile payments will continue to gain ground

Mobile technologies have already had significant impact for SMBs in 2014, with many realizing the competitive advantages that can be reaped through such technology. And in 2015, businesses will continue to leverage mobility, especially SMBs.

Particularly in 2015, we will see SMBs investing in wider array of workflow-centric mobile applications particularly targeted at specific industries. We are already realizing such a trend with start-ups such as Gamurai Technologies successfully launching its VEON@HairExperience web app in Singapore which incorporated both hairstyling and business management features, and is targeted specifically at hair salons.

Mobile payments will also gain in popularity globally and in Asia Pacific. Following the broad adoption of mobile payment solutions such as Square, Softcard and PayPal in 2014, 2015 will see a continued rapid increase in mobile commerce and payments. We will likely see new solutions gain momentum that offer businesses more choice, flexibility and the ability to integrate with existing technologies. This means businesses will now not only require a mobile-optimized website, but will also need mobile-enabled point of sale solutions that are integrated into their back end infrastructure to help manage inventory.