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The Year that Was — What We Know About 2020 Because Of What We Learned In 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Technological advancements arrive at such a breakneck pace that, by December, news sites and blogs hail the inventions that “dropped” in the year that was. Of course, most are long in development, and have a long road ahead before widespread adoption. 

So what should people remember 2019 for? MIT Technology Review asked Bill Gates to help it pick ten breakthroughs that we should remember 2019 for, including the first “cow-less” burger to enter the lineup at a major fast food chain, and dextrous robots that can turn and toss a toy block.

One of the Microsoft founder’s picks is “smooth-talking AI assistants” — smart speakers. Haven’t we had these? Yes, so he highlights advancements in artificial intelligence, like the ability of assistants to fill in missing words.

At Kinetic Business by Windstream, we’re thinking about the year that was, and the high-water trends and developments we think will spill over into 2020 and beyond, beginning with the starkest one of all — security.

Cybersecurity Is Heating Up

From Russian election meddling to breaches of credit card companies, the digital security concerns we’ve been living with for a while have not abated. What we are seeing is more fighting back.

In October Windstream Chief Information Security Officer Tony Spurlin published an article answering questions about cybersecurity. One of his answers stated that strong online security ties back only to advanced technology.  

“True, the average IT specialist can’t write effective antivirus software exclusive to the small-to-midsize business any more than the average motorist builds her own car. What is also true is that security is best approached as a mix of business solutions and employee training, along with clear policies and protocols guiding company culture.”

Protecting your business, he says, is as much about educating and training your employees on password management and phishing scams as it is about advanced firewalls and security policies.

Security awareness and advanced multilayered protection is applicable to not only enterprise businesses, but small and midsize businesses alike. As cybercrime becomes more mainstream there are more hackers out there targeting businesses of all sizes. It’s not a question of “if’ but “when” your business will fall victim if you don’t prioritize network security now. A managed security solution, such as ours, can make this process of protecting your business much less burdensome.

Buy Less Stuff, Migrate to the Cloud

When offsite servers — the “cloud” —  were first introduced to business IT specialists more than a decade ago, the invention was billed as a digital repository — a self-storage model for all your 1s and 0s.

Today, those servers are powering computing and Software-as-a-Service solutions. Everything from accounting software to CRMs to your entire business phone system is now delivered as a web-based application. If your business is still operating on old equipment or technology, it’s likely costing you more than it should to maintain and creating unnecessary security risks as you are completely responsible for keeping the software and hardware updated and secure.  

The cloud has also extinguished the physical office perimeter. With solutions such as cloud-based phone systems, business communications, as well as coworker collaboration, can take place on any device from any location. Business owners and employees have their entire communications nervous system at their fingertips via an app on their mobile phone. Not only does this provide more workplace flexibility, but, fortunately, also accommodates the “convenience” culture and expectations of today’s consumers. Our award-winning OfficeSuite UC® solution does all of this and more – starting at a budget-friendly cost of only $19.95/mo per seat.  

Bigger Bandwidth Is Table Stakes

In 2019, nearly every politician, from U.S. Senators to state representatives, called for greater public and private investment in high-speed internet. Windstream made Kinetic Business 1-Gig Fiber Internet connections available to more than 100,000 business locations across its footprint over the past year.

It’s not simply faster computing driving the need for more speed, it’s exponentially rising connections (by 2023 the number of connected devices per person will be 13).

Similarly, in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, research firm Gartner highlights a number of IT developments to watch closely, and David Cearley, its vice president, says smart products and online services will join human talent to create “smart spaces,” — “Multiple elements — including people, processes, services and things — come together in a smart space to create a more immersive, interactive and automated experience.”

Any new technologies, or even experiences, are “smart” – meaning “connected”. The bandwidth of yesterday, or even today, just isn’t going to cut it. Our network upgrades and fiber optic expansions are ensuring that Kinetic Business by Windstream customers have the necessary bandwidth to remain competitive and current. If you haven’t checked to see how much bandwidth your business location qualifies for recently, it’s worth checking out. Bigger bandwidth for your business may be a phone call away.

The Future of Work Is Distance

Remote work, telecommuting, flexible schedules and distributed teams are becoming a reality for “offices” of all types. The technology needed to support that transition must be ample and mobile.  

Here again the benefits of a UCaaS solution such as OfficeSuite UC®, are mobility and collaboration – allowing full access to all features, including calling, company-wide chat, video conferencing, call routing and more from any device anywhere that business, or life, takes you . Your team no longer need be in the same room together to be “face-to-face”. And leaving the “traditional” office no longer means falling behind or missing opportunities.

The trend isn’t going away, so rather than resist it, adopt the technology to support it and use it to your benefit – your potential talent pool just multiplied exponentially. Unified Communications allows you to hire top talent both within your local area (as even locals want the flexibility) and outside of it.

Can’t Go Down, Won’t Go Down

Are we facing disaster more often, or does it just seem like it? This past fall Kinetic Business by Windstream published a step-by-step guide to disaster planning, including taking inventory of critical jobs, the critical equipment and tools required to execute critical job functions, and how to quickly migrate to operating offsite in the event that becomes the only option to keep business running

Business continuity is a strong reason to migrate tools, applications and data to the cloud where it continues to be accessible from any location with an internet connection.

Alongside disaster recovery planning, another part of business continuity is network redundancy and diversity. If you are operating without a “failover” solution, you are living in the dark ages. As business, and life, become more and more dependent upon connectivity in 2020 and beyond, the need for infallible internet access is imperative. Solutions such as SD-WAN provide businesses with active/active failover plus offer the benefit of aggregating multiple connections – from various providers or via various technologies – into one large stream of bandwidth. On the simpler side, solutions like our Always-On 4G Internet Backup provide a failover solution that maintains connectivity during disruptions of your primary connection at an affordable monthly price of just $39.99.

Consider these current trends that will continue to pervade and evolve in the upcoming year as you plan out your 2020 business technology budget.