Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, published a report on its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. The report is worth reading but I shall give you an overview of some of the key findings.
Gartner has devised a framework for describing the underlying themes that unify the top 10 trends. The framework is referred to as the intelligent digital mesh.
Strategic technologies in this grouping feature systems that emphasise machine learning and adaptation in contrast to the execution of a basic set of rules. Artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning, intelligent apps, and intelligent ‘things’, form this grouping.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning is already very widely used on a daily basis. A simple example is predictive text that gradually updates its vocabulary the more you use it. A more sophisticated example includes the models that banks use to predict fraudulent transactions in real-time alerting them to suspicious account activity.
We are already seeing the deployment of intelligent apps such as virtual private assistants. The prediction is that it is likely that virtually all apps will have some degree of artificial intelligence. There will be varying degrees of conspicuousness of artificial intelligence in applications. It will become easier to integrate intelligent apps into business practices as major vendors incorporate them into their core products. For example: Sage, a major supplier of accounting software has integrated Amazon Echo into its’ offering.
Intelligent things refers to new physical devices that depend specifically on artificial intelligence. In broad terms this refers to: robots, drones and autonomous vehicles. There is great potential for such devices to improve from their current state of development. Driverless vehicles are in used in military, agricultural and industrial environments. A major barrier to their wider adoption is legislation. Robots and drones in general are being designed to collaborate with one another in order to collectively complete tasks. The possibilities for robotics in industry are great. It is important to be aware of these future developments.
Not only is it possible to use virtual and augmented reality to provide entertainment, but also to provide assistance in the workplace. DHL has deployed augmented reality wearables to its warehouse staff and realised a dramatic increase in productivity gains. It is predicted that rooms and objects will become more abundant in sensors interacting with a range of wearable technologies designed to interact with the environments.
Digital twins are networks of monitoring and feedback sensor systems that allow the manager of a device to monitor that state of the device accurately. If a piece of equipment has a large number of sensors on it, it is possible to model the device accurately and produce a ‘twin’ model of the machine on computer. This is beneficial for expensive capital assets because it is possible to predict failure and reduce downtime. For less expensive assets it is possible to monitor them with much simpler systems but still produce valuable data on their states of being.
Blockchains and distributed ledgers enable the recording of events in a manner that is simple and robust. The blockchain architecture creates trust in a data transfer environment where there is a threat of fraud. These technologies can reduce the need for central counterparties in clearing transactions. Presently, the technology is still in its infancy and is only being used for bitcoin transactions.
Conversational systems such as Amazon Echo are likely to expand and improve. However, they are predicted to become more flexible in their input/output design, and their user experience design. The prediction is that the input or output mechanism (the device mesh) will be able to seamlessly shift between interaction medium (voice or screen); environment (home, work, motor car); and contextual environment. As these systems become more prevalent, privacy and permission legislation will need a thorough review.
Other trends included in the mesh grouping are: digital technology platforms; mesh app and service architecture; and adaptive security architecture.
Many of these trends are due to the emergence of: artificial intelligence, big data, faster computers, and faster internet.