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Tech trends today: a look at the tech in April 2020 that matters

Why would we need to put together a piece about what’s happening in the world of tech? Well, there might be tech enthusiasts out there who love to know. However, if you are a tech enthusiast, you probably already know what we are about to discuss. 

We therefore thought about that prudent business person who needs to make complex decisions every day. Knowing what the latest tech trends are will help in making more informed decisions. Maybe, it will help in making the discussion between the business owner and IT department easier. Better still, it will inform the digital transformation journey that they need to undertake or fine tune as a business.

So, in this article, we look at tech and trends that made some interesting milestones in the month of April, and that would have an impact in the future. Join in on this journey.

Tech trend #1: Up to 8 people will soon be able to join WhatsApp audio or video calls

Working From Home Sofware

Working from Home Software
Image source: https://bit.ly/2Wq10Rn

The working from home culture, spurred by the unfortunate pandemic that is Covid-19, has seen a spike in the demand for working from home software. By late January, Microsoft announced on a blog penned by their Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 that they had seen a 500% increase in meetings, calls and conferences held on the Teams platform, and a 200% increase in the usage of the same Platform on mobile. Absolutely staggering. 

Video conferencing tools have become increasingly important with restricted movements caused by lock downs the world over. This has forced businesses to allow their staff to work remotely. It has also shown businesses the possibility of remote work in the world beyond Covid-19. 

In fact, according to a recent survey by Gartner:

74% of the surveyed companies plan to have at least 5% of their staff who previously worked from the office working remotely, after Covid-19.

Work From Home Stats

Image source: Gartner (April 2020)

It is no wonder that WhatsApp’s group call feature is also receiving updates to help gear up for the video conferencing upsurge, even though WhatsApp at its core is not a work from home software. The initial update in early April was to have 4 participants in a group call as shown by this Tweet:

WhatsApp Call with 4 Participants

WhatsApp Call with 4 Participants Announcement

However, there is a beta version of WhatsApp  on both Android and iOS, 2.20.133 on Google Play and 2.20.50.25 on iOS (from TestFlight) that is allowing for up to 8 participants. All the participants need to be using this beta version though.

This update provides more communication options for teams and companies working remotely, and could never be more timely. It is also a great option, as WhatsApp calls also use end to end encryption, which keeps them private.  

Tech trend #2: Over 22 million cybersecurity attacks targeted at businesses

This tech trend is undoubtedly worrying. According to IBM’s ‘The Cost of a Data Breach’ 2019 report, the average cost of a data breach is $3.29 million. 

The average cost of a data breach

The average cost of a data breach

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase in cybersecurity attacks, with this article by the Wall Street Journal even stating that the effects of these data breaches may even be long term. 

What this means is that businesses have to prioritize the security of their systems and processes, as well as all the data involved. According to the McKinsey’s ‘Perspectives on Transforming Cybersecurity’ publication, some approaches that businesses can take include:

  • Building a holistic program to protect the business that goes beyond technical controls. Such a program will take into consideration organizational structure, digital assets, business strategy, the role of the human in cybersecurity risks, and use of threat analytics.
  • Involving all stakeholders in making decisions about cyber security. This allows for threats to be understood from different perspectives. When measures and policies are put into place, people in the organization are likely to accept them and support them.

Tech trend #3: Slack retires Foundry

Foundry was a ‘bot to help you with the basics of using Slack’. So, Slack is a communication platform for teams to keep in touch (in case you have not heard of it). Like all communication tools, Slack now stands at 12.5 million users, and boasts an engagement of 90 minutes a day. This outranks Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, at 58, 53, and 40 minutes respectively.

Slack had launched Foundry to make it easier for users to navigate their platform. However, they retired it ‘a while ago’ as per their Tweet:

Slack Retires Foundry

Slack Retires Foundry: Twitter Conversation

Not much was spoken about the company’s decision, or the factors that may have contributed to it. Of interest however, is the timing of the decision. 

Bots are being used to address challenges around customer support and the speed at which they can access information (which is a major frustration with online experiences) as shown in the two images below:

Challenges with online customer experiences

Challenges with online customer experiences

Response Time Expectations from Customers

Response Time Expectations from Customers

So, why would Slack stop using a bot to help users navigate their product when bots seem to be gaining popularity among consumers? Like we said, we do not know for sure. What we do know that there is more to the equation than having bots coming in for improved customer experiences online. 

Bots or virtual assistants can answer 80% of incoming questions without assistance. In Slack’s Foundry, users agreed that the bot could make it easier for users to navigate the product as shown in the image below:

Slacks Foundry

Slacks Foundry

But the truth is, bots have their limitations too. They may not be able to handle complex problems or handle an angry or frustrated customer efficiently, as a human would. 

So, the best case scenario is to have humans and bots working together. Bots can be left to handle simple and direct questions while humans can handle the complex ones, as shown in this MIT report: The Future of Customer Service Is AI-Human Collaboration.

What this means for businesses is that as they plan to automate their online customer experiences, they should strive for the balance between AI and humans.

In conclusion

We have looked at some tech trends that happened in April, but may as well be the tech trends for business. Knowing the above trends will help you begin to move towards making decisions that can future-proof your business. 

Are you looking for ways to automate your business? For example using chatbots? Or looking to  integrate communication tools? Or better still to build your own communication app? We are a team of developers well versed in building custom solutions for businesses. We are sure to take the appropriate security measures too when building our solutions. Contact us for your technology needs. 

About the Author
Abby Nduta
I have a way with words. Linguist turned into a digital marketer, and on her journey to becoming a backend developer.