Tech analyst firm Gartner has compiled a list of the top ten strategic technology trends that organisations need to explore in 2019. According to Garner, these technologies have substantial disruptive potential and are either on the edge of making a big impact, or could reach a tipping point in the next five years.
Some of these trends will be combined: "Artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of automated things and augmented intelligence is being used together with the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and digital twins to deliver highly integrated smart spaces," explained Garner vice-president David Cearley.
The analyst firm's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019 include:
This includes robots, drones and autonomous vehicles that use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans. The next shift is likely to be from standalone intelligent things to swarms of collaborative devices working either independently or with human input, Gartner predicts. For example, a drone could decide that a field is ready for harvesting, and dispatch a robot harvester. "Or in the delivery market, the most effective solution may be to use an autonomous vehicle to move packages to the target area. Robots and drones on board the vehicle could then ensure final delivery of the package," said Cearley.
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Augmented analytics focuses on the use of machine learning to improve how analytics content is developed and used. Gartner said augmented analytics capabilities will quickly go mainstream as part of data preparation, data management, modern analytics, business process management, process mining and data science platforms. As it automates the process of data preparation, insight generation and insight visualisation, it could eliminate the need for professional data scientists in many scenarios.
Developing applications with AI-powered features will become easier, Gartner said, using predefined AI models delivered as a service. Another shift is that AI will be used in the data science, application development and testing elements of the development process. By 2022, at least 40 percent of new application development projects will have AI co-developers on their team, the analyst firm predicts. "Tools that enable non-professionals to generate applications without coding are not new, but we expect that AI-powered systems will drive a new level of flexibility," said Cearley.
A digital twin refers to the digital representation of a real-world entity or system. By 2020, Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints, and digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things, helping companies to better understand their systems and business processes.
Edge computing is a growing area of interest, mostly for now driven by the IoT and the need to keep the processing close to the edge of the network rather than in a central cloud server. Over the next five years, specialised AI chips, along with greater processing power, storage and other advanced capabilities, will be added to a wider array of edge devices, Gartner said. In the long term, 5G will offer lower latency, higher bandwidth, and enable more edge endpoints per square kilometre.
Gartner looks beyond virtual reality and augmented reality to a future model of immersive user experience, where we connect with the digital world across hundreds of surrounding edge devices. These include traditional computing devices, wearables, cars, environmental sensors and consumer appliances.
"This multi-experience environment will create an ambient experience in which the spaces that surround us define 'the computer' rather than the individual devices. In effect, the environment is the computer," said Cearly.
Current blockchain technologies and concepts are immature, poorly understood and unproven in mission-critical, at-scale business operations, said Gartner. Despite this, the potential for disruption means that CIOs should begin evaluating blockchain, even if they don't aggressively adopt these technologies in the next few years.
A smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact, like smart cities, digital workplaces, smart homes and connected factories. Gartner said this area is growing fast, with smart spaces becoming an integral part of our daily lives.
Digital ethics and privacy
Companies need to proactively address issues around digital ethics and privacy. "Shifting from privacy to ethics moves the conversation beyond 'are we compliant' towards 'are we doing the right thing'," said Cearly.
It's still very early days for quantum computing, which promises to help find answers to problems too complex for traditional computers to solve. Industries including automotive, financial, insurance, pharmaceuticals and the military have the most to gain from advancements in quantum computing, and Gartner said that CIOs should start planning for it by understanding how it can apply to real-world business problems with the aim of using it by 2023 or 2025.
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