Over the past years, technology has found its way into every aspect of a business’s operations, from payroll to stock control and from e-commerce to business intelligence. What do leading stakeholders see as the most exciting area that will benefit from technology – disruptive or not – in the coming years?

Vince Vella

Computime Software
CTO

Most organisations currently rely on IT solutions to manage their business processes but, as we move into the future, we will see that organisations will become even more data driven.

Traditional reporting on historic data will not be enough. To gain an edge, companies will need to act on real-time data. The ability to act quicker than the competition will become a key business advantage.

Moreover, advances in artificial intelligence, and the increased availability of these technologies, will permit organisations of all sizes to intelligently automate a number of business decisions and processes.

This can have an impact on various areas within an organisation.

Each client experience must be unique – providing customers with recommendations of their own preferred products and services, suited for their own needs and based on their specific profile.

Asset-intensive organisations will have systems that can anticipate breakdowns and streamline maintenance. Internal inventory requirements will dynamically adapt to predicted demand trends. Marketing campaigns will automatically target individuals with the highest possibility of success. And so on.

In conjunction, the wider acceptance of cryptocurrency can have a substantial impact on existing business models.

These are surely exciting times ahead.

Peter Bugeja

PTL
general manager

Technology continues to develop at a fast pace. In the business world, many have used technology to bring in speed and real value, a value that continues to expand when companies realise the unlocked potential that is unearthed by the additional computational power.

In the coming years, we shall see technological innovations that have been in an incubation phase come to life. We will experience the sheer power of disruptive technologies becoming the norm within mainstream businesses.

The increase in computational power is making artificial intelligence (AI) become smarter and more capable of applying cognitive functions of the human brain in learning and solving problems. AI will rapidly achieve its demand and adoption across many business areas.

The health sector continues to be under substantial financial stress. Finding ways of delivering enhanced patient outcomes and assisting healthcare clinicians (while, at the same time, achieve financial efficiency), will lead to the adoption of AI across the health sector.

AI solutions will provide healthcare professionals with quality information from electronic health records that are both relevant clinically and in real time. I anticipate that this will lead to further fiscal discipline through lower treatment costs.

Virtual reality is another prevalent area that is now capitalising on the increase in computational power. While we are already seeing its increased use within a commercial environment, it will become more pertinent in the coming years within the health sector.

In line with targets to improve patient care and patients’ well-being, VR will become a key tool in this sector.

I firmly believe it will become a game changer in certain areas of patient care in the medium term.

James Forte

Megabyte Ltd
head of software services

Cloud computing is growing rapidly and the flexible nature of Cloud solutions offers an exciting future, particularly for small and growing companies.

Hybrid IT architectures provide the opportunity for businesses to scale out to a Cloud environment for specific workloads while maintaining other applications on premise. Migration to the Cloud enables companies to convert their CAPEX into OPEX, thus assisting them to grow without taking on enormous investments to manage a large IT infrastructure.

Hybrid clouds are designed to quickly scale up or down as business demands change.

Furthermore, the Cloud also offers businesses additional revenue streams such as online platforms to promote and sell their products and services. Once again, this allows them to reach a wider audience and grow their market with minimal capital expenditure.

Cloud technology has also enhanced our ability to work anywhere. Mobility allows companies to offer their services 24/7 from all around the globe. Employees can access data not only from their homes but also while travelling, making the organisation more responsive, flexible and productive.

The Cloud is encouraging smaller businesses to innovate and experiment while sustaining ongoing profitability. Ultimately, companies will understand the need to adopt the right processes and maximise advancements in technology if they want to grow their business.

In the coming years, we envisage more local companies embracing new integrated cloud technologies.

Edwin Attard

SG Solutions Ltd
business development manager (Office Automation)

Digital media has been taking over in the past years and this trend will continue in the coming years. From simple photocopier to solutions offered by multifunction printers, all are designed to target the digital archiving of documents.

Digital archiving makes it easy to save and retrieve documents but, then, security will become a concern, thus secure archiving and retrieval has to be inbuilt in such solutions and not as an afterthought.

The amount of digitised documents will also require an efficient document management system.

Video conferencing is also becoming more popular within the business community. This provides more work flexibility and saves time and travelling costs.

The digital media is also resulting in a bigger demand for projectors, the most popular being the ultra-short throw projectors, due to their portability. With the increase in conferences, training and marketing, interactive white boards are also becoming a valuable asset.

I believe the progress in the digital media will make it easier for businesses to have their employees working with flexibility, either from office or from home.

In the medical area, digital media will facilitate remote diagnostics and operations.

In general, the progress in digital media will enable businesses and employees to be more efficient and flexible.

Stephen Zammit

Lornit Ltd
partner

In the business environment it will be the management who will be getting the most interesting tools in the coming years. Businesses have been capturing data through standard tools and storing it. Now is the time to feed that data into systems that can use it, to help decision makers at all levels, but mostly management.

The cost of technology will go down and will become more accessible to small and medium businesses. As the younger generations fill up the ranks within companies, use of technology will be more common but, more importantly, people would be more willing to depend on technology.

Tomorrow’s employees will perform company duties over their smart devices, such as check into work, disclose their whereabouts, register sales, transact with customers and send back reports. The tools they use will be capturing more data than we can imagine.

More use of technology will improve business productivity, efficiency, reduce costs and that is where we come in. This is where software creators like us will have loads of opportunity to provide technology that harvests this data from different sources to bring about software systems that are customisable, intelligent and very useful in assisting managers at all levels.

As companies strive to improve their e-commerce, web design has become more and more important. We asked leading designers what works … and what doesn’t.

Maurice Aquilina

M7Alpha Creative Studios
director

Websites are designed and created to elicit human interaction… a voluntary, non-forced act of engagement by people looking for something. And, no matter who these people are or where they are coming from, they share some universal behaviours that make them attracted or repellent to certain visual characteristics.

Nevertheless, some websites are built in ways that make these interactions difficult, impossible almost. Supposedly ‘clever’ titles or navigation links which mean nothing to the visitor leave potential clients wondering what lies beneath and, very often, they just click away.

Clever design features the business name on the top left of the page and a straightforward introduction followed by text contrasting nicely with the background. Simplicity is the key.

Embrace negative spacing and give the eyes room to breathe. What works for print does not necessarily work on the web. When visitors land at your page they are full of questions, therefore position your content in such a way that, while they move through it, they’re absorbing your information and answering their own questions.

Work with human nature and not against it. Just keep asking yourself what would make everything clearer and you won’t go wrong.

Marcel Cutajar

Agilis IT Solutions
managing director

Undoubtedly, the internet has changed the way companies must undertake their business. This, assisted with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, has changed the way companies can market their products and reach new clients. This has, of course, led to new competition, bringing closer overseas companies that have similar products to sell.

The Maltese consumer has taken up this opportunity and it is a known fact that they frequently make online purchases. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with local businesses.

A good number of businesses have been hesitant to delve into e-commerce as they perceive it to require major investment and effort to maintain. Focus 360 Business Suite offers a comprehensive solution for businesses wishing to have a commercial trading presence in the eCommerce world. Focus 360 offers seamless connection between the back-office ledgers, including inventory modules, and the eShop.

The Focus 360 eShop enables a global reach and wider client base through the online website whereby it offers the facilities to market products via a professional and state-of-the-art website. It supports a responsive and SEO optimised website providing an optimal browsing experience for clients.

For more details go to www.agilis.com.mt.

Alan Darmanin

ISB Software
director

Web design can be discussed at different levels and from different points of view. Two important aspects of web design that deserve attention are the cosmetic aspect, meaning how appealing the overall site is and the psychological aspect that deals with how the human brain interprets the interface of a website and, subsequently, how the user interacts with it. Both should be in the web designer’s mind at all times during the design process.

More broadly speaking, however, the modern-day user expects to find a website, especially eCommerce websites, to be mobile responsive. Customers tend to not trust an eStore when they try to access a web portal on a mobile device and find it does not adapt to their screen. On average, more than 50 per cent of traffic to a website comes from a mobile device.

Furthermore, when dealing with web design for eCommerce, it is critical to ensure that users have faceted search facilities, especially when the portal is home to thousands of products and hundreds of thousands of product variants (such as size, colour, specifications, etc.). Users want to search, filter, narrow down the options and, ultimately, compare products before conducting a purchase.

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