Research and Advisory firm Gartner Group recently outlined their top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017 and beyond. Gartner define “strategic” as the technologies that will have significant disruptive potential over the next five years. Broken down into three main categories, Intelligent Technologies, Digital Technologies and the Mesh, they represent the predicted massive shift in digital experiences that all businesses need to be thinking about.

 

Category 1 – Intelligent Technologies 

Applied AI and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, which currently already includes technologies such as natural-language processing, deep learning, and neural networks, could soon encompass more advanced systems that will be able to learn, understand, predict, adapt and potentially even function autonomously. Systems could learn and change future behaviour, and end up creating more intelligent devices and programs. This new era has been unleashed by a combination of advanced algorithms, extensive parallel processing power, and massive data sets to feed the algorithms.

Intelligent Apps

Not all machine learning and AI will be directed at humans. Some systems will use their intelligence to interact with other systems. But plenty of machine intelligence will be employed in intelligent apps that augment human intelligence in different ways. From personal virtual assistants like Siri and Amazon Echo to calendars that figure out what you need to know about the other attendees in your next meeting, the apps you use are going to be increasingly intelligent in the coming years.

Intelligent Things

From industrial equipment to vehicles to light bulbs, the physical things that make up our environment are becoming more intelligent. Some of that intelligence will be used to improve the experience humans have in relating to the items, but some will be used for these smart things to communicate and coordinate with other intelligent things. One of the important pieces of this trend as described by Gartner is the increase in intelligent network applications as the intelligent things form intelligent networks and intelligent ecosystems.

Category 2 – Digital Technologies

 Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become popular with gamers (think Pokémon Go), however we will increasingly start to see business applications of the technology. As mobile device usage becomes an ingrained behaviour, further blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds, brands and their retail partners will need to develop mechanisms to leverage this behaviour to enhance the customer experience. An example of this is the use of AR applications to layer digital information – text, images, video and audio – on top of the physical world. For example, a consumer pointing the IKEA catalogue app at a room in his or her home can “place” furniture where ever they want to see how it would look. This real-world example will differentiate AR apps from those offering VR.

Digital Twin

Within three to five years, billions of things will be represented by digital twins, a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system. Using data provided by sensors, a digital twin understands its state, responds to changes, improves operations and adds value. Digital twins function as proxies for the combination of skilled individuals (e.g., technicians) and traditional monitoring devices and controls (e.g., pressure gauges). Their proliferation will require a cultural change, as those who understand the maintenance of real-world things must collaborate with data scientists and IT professionals who utilise digital twins.

Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers   

Blockchain technology is the next revolution in transaction recording. Blockchain grew out of bitcoin, and is essentially a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called blocks secured from tampering and revision. Parties can therefore immediately act on a committed blockchain record, secure in the knowledge that it cannot be changed. Any kind of value exchange can happen in minutes rather than days. Financial Services have been early adopters, but a growing number of industries are also looking at the technology in areas such as music distribution, identity verification, title registry and supply chain. Whilst accepting that the technology is still relatively immature, Gartner are bullish about blockchain in the long-term.

Category 3 – The Mesh

Conversational Systems

The current focus for conversational interfaces is focused on Chatbot’s and microphone-enabled devices (e.g., speakers, smartphones, tablets, PCs, automobiles). However, the digital mesh encompasses an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information, or interact with people, social communities, governments, and businesses. The device mesh moves beyond the traditional desktop computer and multiple devices to encompass the full range of endpoints with which humans might interact. As the device mesh evolves, connection models will expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices will emerge, creating the foundation for a new continuous and ambient digital experience.

Mesh App and Service Architecture

The Mesh App and Service Architecture (MASA) includes web, mobile, desktop and IoT apps that link to a broad mesh of backend services to create what users view as an “application”. The architecture encapsulates services and exposes APIs at multiple levels and across organisational boundaries, balancing the demand for agility and scalability of services with composition and reuse of services. The MASA enables users to have an optimised solution for targeted endpoints in the digital mesh (e.g. desktop, smartphone, automobiles) as well as a continuous experience as they shift across these different channels.

Digital Technology Platforms

Digital technology platforms provide the basic building blocks for a digital business and are a critical enabler to becoming a digital business. Gartner has identified the five major focal points to enable the new capabilities and business models of digital business — information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the IoT, and business ecosystems. Every organisation will have some mix of these five digital technology platforms.

Adaptive Security Architecture

The evolution of the intelligent digital mesh and digital technology platforms and application architectures means that security has to become fluid and adaptive. Security in the IoT environment is particularly challenging. Security teams need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects to build security into the overall DevOps process to create a DevSecOps model.

If your objective is managing innovation, transforming with digital technologies, minimising complexity or developing new mobile or IoT apps, our consultants can help design and deliver the appropriate plans and architectures. If you’re seeking expertise to support your existing initiatives, contact Exception today.

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