Another year has come and gone, and while 2017 may have felt like a whirlwind of rapid innovations reshaping the IT industry, just wait until you see what 2018 has in store.
According to a number of leading experts and organizations, the coming year will see a number of emerging technologies reach a greater level of maturity and, as disrupting forces often do, change the industry as we know it. While there will be more pitfalls and dangers to watch out for, there will also be significant opportunities for enterprise IT.
Here’s what the experts believe is coming down the pipeline in the next 12 months.
1. AI creates a market for insights-as-a-service
While AI will continue to make strides in the coming year, the conversation will soon change from all of the potential it can provide the IT industry to the real nuts and bolts of actually planning, deploying and governing it effectively.
According to Forrester Research’s Predictions 2018 report, 70 per cent of enterprises are expected to implement AI in the coming year. This is up from just 40 per cent in 2016 and 51 per cent in 2017.
Some of the most common applications they predict for AI in 2018 include real-time decisions and instructions, and creating an insights-as a-service market. What’s that, you ask?
Insights-as-a-service is a way to make sense of all the big data that exists, combining both structured and unstructured data to derive key insights that help you make business decisions. This can provide companies with cloud-based action plans, benchmarking, process improvements and productivity strategies — making it a hot new commodity in the ‘as-a-service’ toolkit. In fact, the same Forrester experts anticipate that up to 80 per cent of firms will rely on insights-as-a-service for their insight capabilities this year.
2. Everything available on-demand and in ‘digital reality’
According to Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2018 report, business products of all shapes and sizes will evolve to become on-demand services whenever possible. In 2017, this was already in the works with Deloitte stating that “traditional business products are being reimagined as services as organizations modernize core systems and the technology stack.” This year, the ‘as-a-service’ stack will take a huge leap forward, and that will mean that devices need to keep up and stay even more connected.
Deloitte also points to massive advances in ‘digital reality’ throughout 2018. Digital reality is the combination of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality, 360° and immersive technologies — shifting the way we operate devices. Gestures, emotions and even a glance of the eye will be the new norm for device operations in the not-so-distant future. This year, we’ll likely see both software and hardware moving further in this direction.
“As technology develops, we move even closer to our data with the disintermediation of hardware and interfaces. Six specific developments are paving the way for the mass adoption of digital reality.”
Overall, expect AR/VR products and services to skyrocket, with total spending reaching almost $160 billion in 2021 (from just $9.1 billion in 2016) according to market intelligence firm, IDC.
3. More intelligence everywhere
With the proliferation of AI, 2018 will begin the explosion of “smart” apps, analytics and everyday objects. According to the Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018 report, every app and service will incorporate AI at some level in the coming years, and the transition begins this year.
“AI will run unobtrusively in the background of many familiar application categories while giving rise to entirely new ones,” says the report, adding that the same will be true of physical products. “As the technology develops, AI and machine learning will increasingly appear in a variety of objects ranging from smart healthcare equipment to autonomous harvesting robots for farms.”
4. AI shines a light on dark analytics
Gil Press, a Forbes contributor and managing partner of tech consultancy gPress, as well as researchers at Deloitte, both suggest that AI will also help organizations take advantage of their unstructured data, which is currently doing little else but taking up server space.
Press explains that only 32 per cent of companies have successfully analyzed data on text analytics platforms, but believes deep learning will make analyzing dark data more accurate and scalable.
Researchers at Deloitte agree, suggesting, “Advances in computer vision and pattern recognition [will] allow companies to unlock insights from unstructured data that until now have been lost in the dark.”
5. The rise of the CDO continues
While chief data officers (CDOs) are quickly becoming a vital member of any enterprise’s C-suite, they will continue to grow in numbers and responsibility in the following year.
Press, for one, predicts that “In 2018, more than 50 per cent of CDOs will report to the CEO, up from 34 per cent in 2016 and 40 per cent in 2017.”
With data management, regulatory demands and enterprise-wide governance growing increasingly complex, CDOs will be called upon in this coming year to help businesses manage unstructured and unpredictable data, while leveraging advanced analytics to maximize the value of data assets.