“The Internet of Your Things, as we like to refer to it at Microsoft, is not about ripping and replacing technologies.
“It’s about leveraging what companies already have and adding to their existing systems so everything works better together.”
Machine learning will be the new frontier for competitive advantage
In 2015, Celis says businesses will begin to make full use of big data services in the cloud, with Microsoft expecting 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,” he adds.
According to Celis, 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 organisations to use machine learning for data-driven decision making,” he says.
“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 will help them manage the little things so they can focus on the big things instead,” Celis adds.
“With the power of a search engine behind it, mobile digital assistants are 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 continue to gain ground
Mobile technologies have already had significant impact for SMBs in 2014, with many realising the competitive advantages that can be reaped through such technology.
And in 2015, Celis expects 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,” he adds.