It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

… so, before we close our doors and rush out to finish (or for some of us, start!) our shopping, we wanted to look back on some of 2017’s key events and news stories.

The end of the year is always a great time for reflection, and it’s definitely been a busy one here at Q2Q! But before we go over a few of our own highlights, we wanted to cover what has certainly been an eventful period for the IT and tech sectors and look ahead to what we’re expecting to see in 2018…

  • Cyber-securityIn the arena of cyber-security, numerous big-name brands have fallen victim to ransomware and data breaches this year – perhaps most notably the NHS, back in May. Although the precise consequences of any cyber-attack are difficult to quantify, following the WannaCry ransomware assault, it is estimated that as many as 19,000 patient appointments had to be cancelled. There has additionally been a lot of speculation surrounding what might have happened had the ‘kill switch’ not been found when it was.Unsurprisingly, despite the uncertainty around the real-world impact that such attacks can have, there has been a huge amount of media attention on the need for effective counter-measures to be implemented. A key focus of 2017 has therefore been the necessity for more cyber-security experts, which has resulted in a number of ventures aimed at filling the skills gap. Alongside the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre in February, the Autumn Budget promised a £406 million investment in STEM education.

    In 2018, we expect to see this drive for more professional training and employee education continuing. It’s no secret that there remains a lack of awareness surrounding cyber-security – especially within SMEs – so improving this throughout the workforce should be a key priority for all business owners in the new year.

  • Data protectionWith such cyber incidents only expected to continue into 2018, it’s undeniable that firms of all sizes need to be bolstering their defences now, in readiness for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May. Accidental loss or a breach of personal data could be met with hefty fines under the new legislation, so businesses are rightly being advised to start boosting their security measures now.Awareness of this need to become compliant in advance of the GDPR is being evidenced by the increasing availability of compliant email archiving solutions. The right to be forgotten is a key aspect of the new legislation, so fulfilling this requirement without disrupting essential business operations is becoming a main priority for many software companies.

    Similarly, we’re expecting to see more developers jumping on board the compliant e-marketing bandwagon in the new year, as organisations finally realise that their current non-targeted practices need to improve. Specific, ready-to-implement and practical guidance is still lacking when it comes to communication in particular, so it’s advisable for companies to seek advice regarding their personal data processing if they have any uncertainties at all about compliance.

  • VR, AR and AIThere have been huge advances in the tech sector this year, especially when it comes to virtual and augmented reality. The appetite for immersive experiences continues to captivate the market and we don’t expect to see this trend disappearing anytime soon. Smart Insights predicts a promising future for such technology – within the marketing sector in particular – despite its slightly ‘shaky’ nature as a result of ongoing development.Machine learning has remained a hot topic in the industry too, even though it’s a decade since reports started circulating that we might have driverless cars by 2018  and already more than a year since George Osborne announced that UK roads would be open to them by 2020. So, when Philip Hammond announced that they would be allowed on our streets without a safety attendant on board by 2021, it’s no surprise the story hit the headlines. And although the date keeps being pushed back, the arrival of driverless cars is undoubtedly imminent.

    But despite much attention having been paid to automation and artificial intelligence technology over the past year, we have also seen focus shifting onto the human aspect too. Concerns have begun to arise surrounding accountability in particular. Who will be responsible if anything goes wrong or an accident occurs? The manufacturer? The controller? The machine? Insurance and security are just two key points that need to be considered as we get closer to a reality involving driverless cars and other semi-autonomous tech. Perhaps the question of liability is one we will receive answers to in 2018, but it’s not going to be a straightforward decision by any means.

There’s certainly no doubt that we live in an ever-changing world – and we’ve had some exciting developments in our office this year too! So, before we part with the usual good tidings, here are our top five highlights from 2017:

  1. Growing our workforce – We’ve brought some excellent people on board this year and are very proud of the strong team we’ve assembled! Here’s to another excellent year of problem-solving in 2018.
  2. Branching out into the GDPR – Gaining an official GDPR accreditation and expanding into providing compliance workshops, project management, Data Privacy Impact Assessments and virtual Data Protection Officer services has been an exciting step for the company. With the data protection regulations now just around the corner, next year is set to be another busy one for GDPR advice!
  3. Speaking at a number of industry events – Alongside our core services, we’ve also delivered presentations at some high-profile exhibitions and conferences this year. With a webinar, finance director summit and tech showcase under our belt, it’s been great having the opportunity to share our expertise with a wider audience.
  4. Sharing advice with the wider world – We’ve also managed to deliver important advice surrounding cyber-security, the GDPR and other IT-related topics this year with some brilliant media coverage.
  5. Continuing to crack IT issues for our clients – Of course, underlying all our other achievements is the ongoing IT support we deliver day in, day out to our valued customers. We’ve welcomed some great new clients on board over the past 12 months too, so watch this space for more news about that…

We hope you’ve had a brilliant year too, and wish you all the best for 2018. Just to let you know, we’ll be in the office with normal cover between Wednesday 27th and Friday 29th, and then from Tuesday 2nd onwards.

So, all there’s left to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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