We’re well into the start of 2016, so we better get our observations about trends to watch out there before it’s too late! There are many industry developments to observe as the pace of innovation continues to accelerate. Here are just a handful of trends that we’ll be watching as they develop throughout 2016: Identity management, access control and security issues for these topics will vary across industry segments and geographic regions, but will be a crucial aspect of any successful endeavors.

Internet of Things

IoT is about interconnectivity with the exploding number of electronic devices that have networking capability. The list ranges from consumer appliances, to wearables, vehicles, buildings and any other physical device  that you can think of. The benefits and ramifications seem endless as well when you consider the security of the communication between devices/components, which could reveal new attack vectors to compromise the networked managed home or connected vehicle.

Another aspect of IoT is the massive amount of data that can potentially be produced, which is a boon for data aggregators and analytics services – but a potential privacy nightmare for consumers. 2016 should reveal significant advancements in this area as corporations like GE and John Deere aggressively invest in IoT capabilities.

Digital transformation

It seems that every strategic consulting firm, big and small, has a practice dedicated to digital transformation. The term can mean many different things, but primarily it is about modernization of tools and processes within organizations that have remained paper-based or manual. It’s about radically improving the customer experience, using mobile devices and apps to reach new constituencies, digitizing business processes to remove friction in manufacturing, logistics, and other businesses, utilizing big data analytics to glean new insights, and so much more.

Digital transformation can be very disruptive to existing legacy systems that have resisted such radical change to date. Forcing so much change on enterprises can also result in unintended, negative consequences. We’ll have to see how successful transformation projects become after the strategic consulting report is delivered.

Microservices

From Service oriented architecture (SOA) to application programming interfaces (APIs) to microservices; we’ve arrived at the latest approach to decomposing large, monolithic applications.

With a microservices architecture, the functions of an application are built as discrete components that communicate with each other via APIs. This approach lends itself to a faster, almost continuous development and deployment cycle, such as DevOps. While not a new development approach, it seems that microservices are gaining in popularity and we expect to see more of that in 2016.

From a security perspective, building many, microservices components could mean that you need to also enhance your strategy for securing access to the individual components. An API gateway combined with an attribute-based access control (ABAC) approach can be very beneficial in this regard.

Blockchain

It’s unusual to scan the IT trade press and not see an article on Blockchain, the innovative distributed database behind the Bitcoin protocol. Blockchain is a distributed database that appears to be more tamper resistant than anything we’ve seen to date in the digital world. The potential for this technology is far-reaching in its possible application, very disruptive to certain existing technologies and business models, and may be revolutionary in some cases.

We won’t explore the technical details here, but Blockchain operates on something referred to as a distributed consensus, whereby no single node in the distributed system can overwrite or change data on its own. Some example applications include:

  • Adding higher levels of assurance to almost any transaction-based system because it will be so difficult to refute that a particular transaction actually took place

  • Electronic voting systems are one such transaction based application that could finally prove to be trustworthy enough to implement

  • Blockchain could disrupt the current global method for clearing money wire transfers (we’re not talking Bitcoin here). For example, JPMorgan is investing considerably in Blockchain as it could greatly streamline this process by eliminating intermediaries.

Clearly, there will be a lot of investment in Blockchain over the next several years and it will be very interesting to see the outcome and the possibilities.

In addition to these hot trends, we’re also seeing more adoption of our own technology, Attribute Based Access Control or ABAC, in industries that have complex compliance or regulatory challenges, and those that have very sensitive assets to protect. Stay tuned for more evolving use cases and stories with the sectors of banking, pharmaceuticals, health care, manufacturing and the federal government as we share best practices and implementation tips over the course of this year.