In 2013, we’ll see an even greater adoption of advanced technology than ever before, as businesses seek to meet changing market demands, whilst increasing productivity and creating better experiences for their customers. 

With this in mind, here are the five top technology trends that I expect to see shaping the business landscape in the coming year:

1. M2M Communications Drive New Insights

The ‘Internet of things’ has arrived and it will continue to grow to meet specific industry requirements.  According to a Gartner report, “In 2011, over 15 billion things on the Web with 50 billion+ intermittent connections will grow by 2020 to over 30 billion connected things, with over 200 billion with intermittent connections.” 

Machine-to-machine (M2M) connections now cover much more than smart energy delivery and smart cars.  For example, elaborate networks of sensors with direct machine-to-machine connections now underpin connected health care and the first consumer-ready wave of automotive telematics. 

In 2013, this dramatic growth will extend to retail, finance and manufacturing. The ability to collect, store and analyse overwhelming volumes of data will define which enterprises extract the best insights and make the most agile decisions, to their competitive advantage.  

2.  The Invisible Enterprise Lifeline  

Improvements in network reliability and resiliency, coupled with intelligent end points, serve as the foundation for connecting smart machines and smarter people. We will see a shift in 2013 to more dynamic networks, pervasive IP connections, and purpose-built networks that serve businesses, consumers and society. 

From retail transactions to high speed trading to the digital signs that communicate with us on a daily basis, the network is omnipresent in the background.  It continues to grow in importance, as well as just how much we take it for granted.

3. Hybrid Clouds Eclipse the VPN 

Distributed data centres and the intelligent wired and mobile networks that connect them now represent a viable alternative to traditional virtual private network (VPN) methods that long have formed the backbone of distributed enterprise communications for a generation. Next year, there will be a significant shift from VPNs to public, private and, importantly, hybrid clouds. 

To keep up with the changing demands of today’s enterprise, the ideal platform needs to be secure and easy to use and configure. In 2013, if you can’t switch workloads between public and private clouds, you won’t be competitive.  This next year will require a bold approach to embracing change and re-engineering networks in support of cloud-based applications.

4. The Mobile Majority Takes Charge

According to Forrester, a full 66 percent of employees now use two or more mobile devices for work. This has far-reaching implications; employees - and the customers they serve - have less and less separation between their work and private lives. 

Enterprises in 2013 must accommodate and prioritise this new demand for efficiency and productivity, and information technology departments will play a key role in meeting the growing appetite for professional mobility on a personal level.

As a result, companies will increasingly adopt cloud-based enterprise mobility strategies - creating ‘personal clouds’ where employees can use enterprise applications to do their jobs more effectively.  

In addition, companies will be more proactive in tackling the challenges associated with dealing with the division of employees’ personal and professional lives, by using mobile-device management and private application storefronts to create a more secure, mobile work environment.

5. Security is the New Arms Race

In 2013, security will move out of the specialist realm and become a mainstream IT must-have.  Security breaches span access, infrastructure and apps.  They happen on fixed and mobile networks.  They impact physical, intellectual and financial capital. And the scope is global, according to the Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. 
Identity security will be a much more prevalent issue in 2013. Two-factor authentication is already gaining adherents, but it won’t be enough to counteract the increasing amount and intensity of criminal activity pursuing both intellectual property and financial gain. The race is on to protect every endpoint, every device and everything connected to the Internet.  

While the Internet affords us countless opportunity it also comes with a price. No longer is strong security an option; it’s a mandatory requirement for all organisations to protect their intellectual and physical capital, customer identities and society at large.

Posted by Stephen Keenan, UK & Ireland Area Vice President at Verizon Business