During a recent symposium, leading figures from the IT world gave their opinions on the major technology trends they expected to affect enterprises over the next few years. Here, we’ll look at those potentially disruptive technologies which experts believe are already starting to have an impact on the business world.
1. Democratising expertise
Lack of expertise is a persistent limiting problem for many enterprises and can put them at a serious competitive disadvantage. At present companies face the dilemma of using expensive consultants who may lack sufficient knowledge of their business or take the slow route of training up existing staff. In the coming years, a third option, democratised expertise, will become increasingly available and is expected to become the preferred option.
Essentially, democratised expertise provides employees with the knowledge and skills they lack without having to learn them. Whether the expertise needed is technical, such as with artificial intelligence or machine learning, or more business-related, such as with communications or marketing, this democratising will be delivered through the development of tools which remove the need for technical know-how. In the same way that CMS has democratised website building by stripping away the need to understand HTML and PHP, the next few years will see tools that remove the expertise needed to do things like designing applications or carrying out data analytics.
2. End-to-end automation
The last decade saw automation become increasingly adopted by enterprises. During the 2020s we will see this use widen to deliver end-to-end solutions. By combining artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation applications, companies will be able to automate many more processes that are currently carried out by humans, such as analysing, designing, monitoring and evaluating. While many of these tools are being used discretely in various ways already, the trend will be to combine them so that they undertake work from start to finish.
3. Autonomous device teams
Another automation advancement we can expect to see more of in the coming year is the linking up of various automated devices to work together as a team. One example of this, seen by millions on TV over the holiday season, was the New Year’s Eve drone displays in Shanghai and Singapore. With technology such as artificial intelligence enabling devices such as drones, robots and automated vehicles to interact with each other as well as with humans and their location, companies will be able to link them into teams to carry out a wide range of actions without the need for human control. This can include things like product assembly, traffic control and even product delivery.
4. Digital technology and the user experience
Using digital technology to enhance the customer experience will be one of the major trends of the next few years. Companies are already using omnichannel communications to interact with consumers using their preferred platforms and we are seeing a growth in the number of organisations adopting mixed, augmented and virtual reality to enhance our perception of both the digital and real worlds. Together they are helping to make the user experience one which is more multisensory and which creates a more effective environment to deliver information.
5. Data transparency
High profile cases like the Cambridge Analytica have given consumers far greater understanding not only of how their data is at risk but of its value to organisations. As a result, the public and indeed the government wants them to have greater control of their own data. Facing these demands as well as ever more stringent regulations, the early 2020s will see enterprises making data transparency a key objective in order to prove they are operating ethically and maintaining the necessary levels of privacy.
6. Development of edge computing
At present, edge computing is mainly used by companies which have adopted IoT technology. Essentially it means ‘edge of network computing’ and it refers to where data is processed near to where it is created rather than sending it long distances to a datacentre. This helps increase speed and provides companies with disconnected or distributed capabilities.
In the coming year, however, it is predicted to become widely used across all sectors. The reason for this is down to its increasing sophistication, its specialised compute resources and its capacity to store more data. As a result, we will see a wider range of edge devices becoming available.
7. Distributed Cloud
The common model of cloud hosting sees data stored and processed centrally; however, this will change over the next few years as the distribution of the public cloud is set to spread to different locations. While the cloud provider will maintain responsibility for its governance and operation, as well as carrying out updates and improvements, technological innovations such as fog networking and the aforementioned edge computing will see the cloud incorporate a wider range of devices spread out over far more locations.
The sophisticated technologies available to enterprises are providing opportunities to develop in areas previously not foreseen. In the next few years we will see companies using automation in far more ways while they also adopt technologies that remove the need for in-house expertise. At the same time, we’ll see mixed, augmented and virtual reality used to improve the user experience while increased transparency is implemented to improve trust. There will also be a significant growth in edge computing and a distribution of the cloud to far more locations.