More data, more problems

More data, more problems

It's time to make some predictions for 2020. A number were made by others a while back, most of which did not eventuate, like a Japanese base on the Moon, flying cars and a Beijing to London rail link. I'll try for a bit more realism.

As far as the social media giants are concerned, they will continue to filter out customers until they cross the wrong boundary and the US government will come down on them hard. There are already calls for this from the current Republican government there and even Classical Liberals are starting to admit it is all going terribly wrong. Prime providers to watch are YouTube, Google and Facebook. Twitter doesn't even really count anymore but they will trip up as well.

Malware in general and ransomware in particular will become more sophisticated this year. While many are now wary of phishing attacks and these will continue unabated while people continue to take that bait. Ransomware is popular because it is easy to make money with healthcare and government still the top targets. The more data they hold the bigger the target so I expect these attacks to continue and get smarter. To combat this, I also expect organisations to start training their staff in proper backups and hardening their security. I predict however that many will be way too slow in doing this. A side challenge here is CEOs asking CIOs to provide some measurable KPIs to track success in the security sphere. Good luck with that. Hopefully this will drive more security training but based on the patterns to date this is unlikely to occur.

Aligned with this will be the need for better data security and privacy. This should start in health, education and of course in government departments. I expect this to be a very country-focused thing. In China for example the opposite will be true, full data collection on citizens and no personal data security. That focus will be somewhat reversed in places like the United States.

The major topic for 2020 however will be big data and the provision of data access requests. I suspect there will be many companies that chase this dream believing that they are a big data house, but in reality, not a lot of organisations are. With a general focus on data, organisations will probably face more data requests and some will not be ready for the extra load. This could be driven by legislation like that recently passed in the US on holding customer and personal information or by managers sick of their data being hacked or ending up in the public sphere.

With the growing lack of skilled IT people across the planet there will be a greater push for automation. This will not be as successful as senior management hopes because this has been a goal for the past 30 years with varying degrees of success. With a growth in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence there will be increasing attacks on these new platforms. It will be some years before the balance swings in the direction of the developers. The lack of people in the hard sciences could be linked to the rise of post modernism but that is a whole other subject.

I do expect Virtual Reality to improve again this year and it may even reach the point where I finally jump on board. The key for any remote streaming here will be good communications networks and I expect to see 5G become a lot more common in 2020. Despite what some are saying there will be no great breakthroughs in quantum computing for some time yet. The same goes for robot-to-human interaction, not a lot of progress on this front either. The same goes for driverless cars, they will not be safe for anything other than limited environments this year but they are coming along slowly. Definitely no commercial flying cars until the latter is worked out. The Internet of Things (IoT) will try to improve but security and connectivity issues will continue to plague the grand design. Another prediction I don't see happening is the reintroduction of smart glasses, especially if they come without any advertising filters. I also don't see the foldable phone expand beyond a small market.

When it comes to printers, screens, computers, smartphones and battery technology, I expect some incremental improvements but nothing with any wow. As for memory sizes and CPU speeds it really doesn't matter much because it is inexpensive, fast and large enough for all but the most demanding requirements.

Finally, for the start of this year the latest Apple Mac Pro. It looks like a cheese grater and if you go to the web site and pick all the top hardware options it will cost you around US$55,000 (1.65 million baht) in the US. This is without a monitor. That is a crazy amount for a PC, admittedly a super specced one. Enjoy 2020.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

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