Gartner Symposium ran in Orlando from October 16–20. Vice President and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, David Cearley, has identified the top 10 strategic technology trends for the year ahead. He defines “strategic” as “those technologies that will have significant disruptive potential over the next five years.” He also notes that they are “prime enablers behind digital and algorithmic business opportunities.” Here is a summary of the trends:
AI and Advanced Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning (ML) are made up of technologies and processes like deep learning and neural networks. What began as algorithms to automate manual tasks, borrowing from advanced statistical techniques has developed into a broader framework and architecture that learns like a human might and can use historical data to predict the future. These systems will become more adaptable and potentially operate autonomously.
Cearley noted, “Applied AI and advanced machine learning give rise to a spectrum of intelligent implementations, including physical devices (robots, autonomous vehicles, consumer electronics) as well as apps and services (virtual personal assistants, smart advisors). These implementations will be delivered as a new class of obviously intelligent apps and things as well as provide embedded intelligence for a wide range of mesh devices and existing software and service solutions.”
Intelligent apps perform some of the functions of human assistants. This harkens to the interview I recently did with Clara Labs CEO Maran Nelson. The virtual personal assistants, or VPNs, will make tasks such as scheduling meetings and managing emails and other messaging much easier. VPNs and virtual customer assistants (which promise to enhance customer service and sales) should transform work and the how firms are staffed.
Cearley said, “Over the next 10 years, virtually every app, application and service will incorporate some level of AI. This will form a long-term trend that will continually evolve and expand the application of AI and machine learning for apps and services.”
For good reason, much has been written about the power of the Internet of Things. Intelligent things will leverage AI and ML to interact with humans and surroundings. Prominent examples are self-driving cars, drones, the artifacts that will increasingly make up the smart kitchen and smart home. Gartner predicts that these will increasingly be woven together into a fabric that will enhance our lives.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have captured the imagination of gamers and other consumers, but they will increasingly have business-to-business implications. Cearley says, “The landscape of immersive consumer and business content and applications will evolve dramatically through 2021. VR and AR capabilities will merge with the digital mesh to form a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes to the user as hyper-personalized and relevant apps and services. Integration across multiple mobile, wearable, Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor-rich environments will extend immersive applications beyond isolated and single-person experiences. Rooms and spaces will become active with things, and their connection through the mesh will appear and work in conjunction with immersive virtual worlds.”
A digital twin operates at the intersection of metadata, condition or state, event data, and analytics. A digital twin is a software model of a physical thing using sensor data to understand its state, change as the thing changes, improve operations, and add value.
Cearley predicts that within the next half decade, hundreds of millions of things will have digital twins. They will be used by enterprises to plan for equipment service, to operate factories, to predict when equipment will fail, to improve operational efficiency, and to aid new product development, to name a few areas. They will become smart controls and monitoring for the operation to an ever increasing extent.
Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers
According to the Economist, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called blocks secured from tampering and revision. Each block is chained to the previous block, and the process is noted in a specially encrypted peer-to-peer network. Financial services have been early adopters, but a growing number of industries have joined the party. Cearley identifies music distribution, identity verification, title registry, and supply chain as logical areas where blockchain will increasingly be used.
Conversational systems will move from chatbots to a broader digital mesh, which will move to an expanded range of endpoints that we will all interact with on a daily basis. These will work together to a growing extent. This will enhance ambient digital experiences in the process.
Mesh App and Service Architecture
The mesh app and service architecture (MASA) includes web, mobile, desktop and IoT apps that will be woven together. This exposes APIs at multiple levels and across traditional boundaries. This will facilitate scalability of services, agility, and an orientation toward reuse of technology. The MASA will facilitate a continuous experience across channels optimized for different endpoints in the mesh, whether one’s smartphone or one’s car.
Digital Technology Platforms
Digital technology platforms will provide the foundation for digital business. Cearley noted five major focal points to enable digital capabilities and business models:
- Information systems
- Customer experience
- Analytics and intelligence
- Business ecosystems
Organizations will increasingly have a mix from across these five digital technology platforms.
Adaptive Security Architecture
The aforementioned digital mesh together with the digital technology platforms to create a bigger attack surface for bad actors. Security issues will continue to proliferate. Cearley notes, “Established security technologies should be used as a baseline to secure Internet of Things platforms. Monitoring user and entity behavior is a critical addition that is particularly needed in IoT scenarios. However, the IoT edge is a new frontier for many IT security professionals creating new vulnerability areas and often requiring new remediation tools and processes that must be factored into IoT platform efforts.”
This article was written by Peter High from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.