Technology has always changed how the world works. From the very first technological advancement through to innovations that are happening in labs and businesses across the world right now, every update has the potential to change how we make things happen and how we get things done.

Nowhere has that been more prevalent in the business world than in cloud technology. What was once a new technology somewhat feared by those with security and access based concerns is now a commonplace tool that’s facilitating more flexible approaches to work and more efficient management of business tasks and assets.

Here are my thoughts on how technology, including cloud tech, will change the way we work in 2018.

1. The Year Of Flexible Working

Flexible working isn’t a new idea. The concept that different people work better in different ways and at different times has long been understood. But it’s only in recent times that business managers have started to see how cloud technology facilitates that flexibility; expect to see more businesses investing in cloud tech for workplace flexibility this year.

Cloud communications are one example of technology making flexible working possible. Tools such as Skype for Business or messaging apps like Slack can be packaged into one-stop platforms in the form of unified communications, making it much easier and secure for communications to take place between business sites and people working from home.

Cloud-based document tools such as Google Docs and cloud project management tools like Teamwork or Jira make management of remote/flexible workers much easier. Business managers looking to make flexibility a core part of their way of working will invest in technology such as unified communications, cloud-based document applications and cloud PM this year.

2. Security & Data Protection Via Technology

Security and data protection are big topics in 2018. In January, the finance sector updated its regulations on security and data protection via the latest iteration of the MiFID directive, while businesses across all sectors will be preparing for the GDPR update this coming May.

Technology has the power to improve the security of our data in various ways. Encryption of data is one of the simplest things businesses can do to protect themselves against potential risks. Encryption means that any intercepted data is rendered useless to the interceptor; data passed over a cloud-based communications network, for example, will be encrypted in this way.

The finance industry’s ‘MiFID’ regulation specifies that client communications must be held on file, whether through email, telephone or message. Through cloud-based communications tools, businesses can monitor all client communications and maintain a record of those.

3. Smart Office Hardware

We’ve all seen the movies; fast-talking, fast-moving, intelligent operatives throw graphics to screens and zoom in on important elements as they relay the detail of their latest plan or mission. This kind of technological interaction is no longer confined to the future-yet-to-come. Businesses of today are investing in smart technology to make their office more efficient and their work more effective.

Smart TVs are one such example where collaboration is made easier and presentation of information is much more engaging. Users can stream from their laptops to the TVs easily using tools such as Airplay or Chrome Cast, or use the TV itself to browse the web and deliver ideas. The rise of voice technology is also likely to have an impact on the UK business scene this year; think Google Home, Alexa, Internet-enabled fridges, and lots more to come!

Whatever your business’ sector or size, technology will be a huge driver for change in 2018.