Research and Advisory firm Gartner Group recently outlined their top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018 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

  1. AI Foundation

The ability to automate business practices and utilise Artificial Intelligence in business decision making will be a key consideration for CEOs in 2018. Creating added value for customers is at the forefront of digital transformation programs. For an organisation to harness the potential benefits of AI it must act swiftly as the technologies are developing rapidly. Google has demonstrated that it could teach a bot (AlphaZero) to learn the rules of chess in four hours before defeating the world champion chess program, Stockfish. Organisations making use of AI won’t be looking to build gaming engines, but instead will focus on streamlining workflows and enhancing existing systems.

  1. Intelligent Apps and Analytics.

Every mobile and web application will include AI over the next few years. It will mostly be utilised unobtrusively in the background, but will gather data to enhance user experience. The uptake of virtual assistants will continue to increase, creating an intelligent intermediary between people and systems. Gartner experts are quick to point out that this not a way to replace people but to supplement their work. User interfaces will continue to improve, particularly conversational interfaces. Apps will include built-in autonomous process and Business Intelligence and Analytics Systems will enhance the capabilities of Data Scientists over the next five years.

  1. Intelligent Things

Intelligent Things describes the addition of machine learning and AI functionality to enhance existing items to interact with humans and surroundings. For example, the Nest smart thermostat is a popular piece of technology that can adjust heating based on residents’ patterns of being in the home. Also, it can be controlled remotely by the use of a mobile device. These Intelligent Things will become more intricate and the tasks more advanced. Another prediction by Gartner explains how many of the smart household appliances will work in collaboration. Smart bulbs and smart plugs could, in theory, link with the likes of a Nest system, monitoring the energy efficiency throughout the home and providing insight to the homeowner.

Category 2 – Digital Technologies

  1. Digital Twins

Digital Twins refer to the digital representation of physical objects, and for more than 30 years, product and process engineering teams have used 3D renderings of computer-aided design (CAD) models, asset models and process simulations to ensure and validate manufacturability. NASA, for example, has run complex simulations of spacecraft for decades. Using data provided by sensors, a digital twin understands its state, responds to changes, improves operations and adds value. Gartner predicts there will be an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020.

  1. Cloud to the Edge

Edge computing is the method of optimising cloud computing systems by performing data processing at the edge of the network, near the source of the data. Gartner predicts that more organisations will begin using edge design patterns in their infrastructure architectures. Despite the common misconception that Cloud and Edge Computing are competitive methods of delivery, the synergy of combining the approaches is seen to provide a wealth of riches. The trend to use the processing power at the edge or near the servers to act as a gateway will become more favourable over the next five years. Gartner defines Cloud Services as a style of computing and not a physical delivery system.

  1. Conversational Platforms 

2018 is shaping up to see one of the largest strategic shifts to come in the conversational platforms space, demanding more from computers. Currently, Alexa, Siri and Cortana are considered mainstream technologies that can interpret an array of trivial requests and return answers or suggestions. These requests will not only get more complex, there will be a large uplift in the use of Voice Technology in business over the next 5 years. The main hurdle to overcome is consumers’ adoption concerns due to previous frustrations with the platforms’ limited response repertoire. However, after the Amazon Echo was amongst 2017’s most received gift at Christmas, the appetite to master voice technology is at an all-time high.

  1. Immersive Experience

Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) sectors are all projected to grow considerably over the next five years. Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality have already experienced considerable success stories, including the most famous of all – Pokémon Go, which generated greater revenue in 3 months than the value of the entire VR software market in 2016**. However, now that there is a visible movement from the head-mounted displays to hand held devices, companies such as BMW and BiC are already demonstrating the willingness to explore smartphone based AR.­ Apple and Google have both made considerable investments with the recent announcements surrounding Apple ARKit and Google ARCore, 2018 is poised to witness a mainstream tipping point for augmented reality technology.

Category 3 – Mesh*

  1. Blockchain

Gartner predicts the adoption of Blockchain technology will soar in 2018. The technology behind Bitcoin is a shared, distributed and decentralized ledger which alleviates many of the complications attributed to sharing data simply and securely. Exception, has identified this as an extremely exciting opportunity and has invested in one of the UK’s leading blockchain companies, Wallet.Services. Exception’s head of Client Services, Jeph Hamilton and CEO of Mobile, Chris Martin also accompanied a group of delegates from the Scottish Government to visit Estonia to experience the clear business opportunities and capabilities by seeing it Blockchain in action. Unlike Estonia, in the UK the implementation of Blockchain is in its infancy in many applications.

  1. Event-Driven

To be successful in the newly evolving dynamic world that has been discussed thus far, the notion of event processing in a more flexible and dynamic way of linking processes together is important. Gartner stress the importance of event processing and request driven mechanisms as equal participants in the development portfolio. By 2020, event-sourced, real-time situational awareness will be a required characteristic for 80% of digital business solutions, and 80% of new business ecosystems will require support for event processing.

  1. Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust

Two key areas have been identified with regards to improving cyber security concerns in 2018 and beyond. 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. The second theme identified by Garter is the implementation of Deception techniques, using bate servers and applications to identify the threats as they try to access the infrastructure that existing users would not be utilising.

If your objective is managing innovation, transforming your business with digital technologies, minimising complexity or developing new mobile or web apps, our consultants can help design and deliver the appropriate solutions. Contact Exception today to see how we can help.

*Mesh refers to the dynamic connection of people, processes, things and services supporting intelligent digital ecosystems.

**Source – Mozenix – Top 5 Augmented Reality Trends 2018

Gregor Cunningham – Marketing Communications Officer

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