It’s really stimulating to look at Gartner’s annual top 10 strategic technology trends for the year ahead. Last month it highlighted the top trends that will impact most organizations in 2018 and organized them in a framework relating to building an “Intelligent Digital Mesh”. “The intelligent digital mesh is a foundation for future digital business and ecosystems,” said David Cearley, VP and Gartner Fellow. IT leaders must factor these technology trends into their innovation strategies or risk losing ground to those that do.
The Intelligent Digital Mesh
Gartner calls the entwining of people, devices, content and services the intelligent digital mesh. It’s enabled by digital models, business platforms and a rich, intelligent set of services to support digital business.
Intelligent: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seeping into virtually every technology and with a defined, well-scoped focus can allow more dynamic, flexible and potentially autonomous systems.
Digital: Blending the virtual and real worlds to create an immersive digitally enhanced and connected environment.
Mesh: The connections between an expanding set of people, business, devices, content and services to deliver digital outcomes.
Trend No. 1: AI Foundation
AI has immense potential to drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2018 as it enables enhanced decision making, reinvention of business models and ecosystems, and revamps customer experience. As per Gartner, businesses are showing interest in this technology at an increased rate. Although realistic use of AI will result in a big digital business payoff, it is suggested that businesses should also focus on tightly scoped solutions targeting specific tasks.
AI techniques are evolving rapidly and organizations will need to invest significantly in skills, processes and tools to successfully exploit these techniques and build AI-enhanced systems. Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together.
Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps and Analytics
AI is expected to be incorporated at some level into every application, app and service. Garter emphasizes Augmented analytics, which uses Machine Learning (ML) to automate data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing for a broad range of business users, teams in operations and citizen data scientists.
Organizations should outline how they’ll be using AI to add business value, and identify use cases in, among others, intelligent automation, conversational design (Chatbots) and personalized user experiences.
Trend No. 3: Intelligent Things
As the space of IoT (Internet of Things) grows to encompass an increasing number of objects, AI and machine will enable these objects, including consumer devices and healthcare tools such as a digital stethoscope or MRI, to operate autonomously or semi-autonomously. Gartner says that as the technology advances, swarms of intelligent things will work collaboratively to achieve a goal. Among others, Gartner mentioned the “Air Force”, a model that involves machines talking to each other, and to humans.
Trend No. 4: Digital Twins
Digital twins are basically digital representations of real-world systems that provide information on the status of their real-world counterpart. They have the potential to improve an enterprise-wide decision-making system and help them save billions of dollars in maintenance, repair and operations. Used mostly in the context of IoT, there is a very high possibility for digital twins to exist for objects that are not actually “things” such as a digital twin for a human that offers biometrics and medical data to doctors.
Gartner predicts that over time, digital representations of virtually every aspect of our world will be connected dynamically with their real-world counterpart and with one another and infused with AI-based capabilities to enable advanced simulation, operation and analysis.
Trend No. 5: Cloud to the Edge
Edge computing make reference to a computing topology that places information processing, content and computing closer to the user/things or “edge” of the network. Unlike traditional cloud computing, it caters to the communication bandwidth, connectivity and latency issues.
Gartner talks about cloud being the style of computing used to create a service-oriented model and a centralized control and coordination structure, with edge being used as a delivery style allowing for disconnected or distributed process execution of aspects of the cloud service. This is the concept that some devices, such as PCs or mobile devices, run on the edge while other things are centralized, such as in the Cloud.
Trend No. 6: Conversational Platforms
Conversational platforms are about “flipping the paradigm”- instead of people learning how the computers communicate, the conversational platforms take a question or command from the user and then responds by executing some functions, presenting some content or asking for additional input. In the coming years, conversational interfaces will become a primary design goal for user interaction and be delivered in dedicated hardware, core OS features, platforms and applications.
This is still in the early days now but in future it won’t be limited to voice sensing alone, but will grow to include other sensors.
Trend No. 7: Immersive Experience
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are changing the way that people perceive and interact with the digital world. Gartner expects that by 2020, the market for head-mounted virtual and augmented reality devices will exceed 35 million devices and generate $75 billion in revenue. Now, it is pushing the concept of “Mixed Reality” a type of immersion that merges and extends the technical functionality of both AR and VR. It is emerging as the immersive experience of choice delivering an interface to better match how people view and interact with their world. Combined with conversational platforms and the IoT, these technologies will bring in a fundamental shift to invisible, immersive, ubiquitous computing
Trend No. 8: Blockchain
Blockchain is a shared, distributed and decentralized mesh that removes business friction by being independent of individual applications or participants. It allows untrusted parties to exchange commercial transactions and, so far, it has been primarily utilized in financial services and government sectors. Nevertheless, it has many potential applications including healthcare, manufacturing, media distribution, identity verification and supply chain. By 2022, Gartner predicts that 30 percent of higher education institutions will be using blockchain for educational credentials.
Blockchain requires a clear understanding of the business opportunity, the capabilities and limitations of blockchain, a trust architecture and the necessary implementation skills. Make sure that your team has the cryptographic skills to understand what is possible and what’s not before commencing a distributed-ledger project. Identify the integration points with existing infrastructures, and monitor the platform evolution and maturation. Use extreme caution when interacting with vendors, and ensure you are clearly identifying how the term “Blockchain” is being used.
Trend No. 9: Event-Driven
Digital business moments (a combination of business events which reflect the discovery of notable states or state changes) are going to drive digital business. With emergence of IOT and other technologies, it is clear that complex events, such as “a signal that a purchase order has been completed”, can be detected more expeditiously and analyzed in depth. As per Gartner, organizations should get hold of “event thinking” as by 2020, event-sourced, real-time situational awareness will be a required characteristic for 80% of digital business solutions, and 80% of new business ecosystems will require support for event processing.
Trend No. 10: Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust
Continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment (CARTA) enables real-time, risk and trust-based decision making with adaptive responses to security-enable digital business. The security world is constantly changing as threats evolve and morph. To make CARTA work, enterprises should integrate security into their DevOps efforts to deliver a continuous “DevSecOps” process and also explore deception technologies to catch threats that have penetrated the organization’s network.
The “Intelligent Digital Mesh” makes sense to us at Compunnel Digital. Our mission is to strategically leverage digital technologies to deliver competitive advantage. Gartner1 has just validated our own projections for the role AI, ML and RPA will play in the decades to come and, as many were expecting, “competitive advantage” in a digital-centric world now has a whole new meaning.
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