Technology is ever-evolving. Annual trend predictions can become out-of-date before you even get to grips with them. To stay relevant with the latest buzz trends, it’s important to keep your eye on those pending and to keep your business model current.
With so many of our customers in the data centre industry, we’ve rounded up what’s on the horizon for 2019, with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) at the forefront in playing a significant role in how IT departments can engage and empower organisations.
Robotics is only going to continue to grow and transform the customer experience, with markets such as food and beverage, logistics and warehouses breaking the ground. Global leaders Google, Amazon and Microsoft are leading the way in research in these areas. In fact, Google is running free online training to improve knowledge and build capabilities. 2019 is just the beginning of a digital revolution.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the buzz word for the last twenty years in the technology space, and remains to be prominent in the 2019 predictions, because it will almost certainly affect our lives at home and at work. But what exactly is it?
AI denotes computer systems, including cars, robots and agriculture that replicate human intelligence and perform jobs such as speech, decision making and recognition of images.
These systems have actually been around since 1956 and are already commonly used in daily life to replicate behaviours that are traditionally done by humans. Examples include navigation apps, smartphone personal assistants, smart home devices and streaming devices. AI is proving useful in cost-cutting tasks, such as to schedule trains, assess business risk and improve energy efficiency.
It’s quicker and more accurate than humans, which raises the threat of potential job loss, a current hot topic. Experts believe AI will eradicate 73 million jobs by 2030, but it’s important to remember that it’s creating jobs as well as phasing them out. Programming, testing, development, support and maintenance are all ones to watch out for.
According to analyst firm, Gartner, several tech giants now employ AI robots for security. Microsoft and Uber use Knightscope K5 robots to patrol car parks and large outdoor areas to forecast and foil crime. But how exactly do they do this? They read license plates, report unusual activity and collect data to report to their rightful owners.
Machine learning (ML) continues to be the talk of the town. Every business can benefit from using the technology as it will make it more successful and profitable.
ML is a subdivision of artificial intelligence that refers to computers that are programmed to learn something they are not programmed to do. They are incredibly clever creatures that learn by determining patterns and insights from data. So it’s not surprising that it’s fast becoming present in many industries and creating plenty of new job opportunities. In fact, ML jobs rank amid the top emerging jobs on LinkedIn, including researchers, developers, engineers and data scientists.
The US Army uses machine learning to forecast when fighter vehicles will require repair. Several armoured infantry transports have sensors inside of the vehicle’s engines to record temperature and RPM, transmitting it to software. ML seeks patterns in the data that match engine failures in similar vehicles. Amazing right? If all other eventualities could be solved by such capabilities, we’re certain it won’t be long until it transpires in our daily life.
The food and beverage industry is already trialling ML to predict when items will run out of stock which will help see big savings.
There are also subdivisions of machine learning, such as deep learning, natural language processing (NLP) and neural networks. Its applications are used for data analytics, pattern recognition, data mining, real-time ads, web search results and much more.
Both artificial intelligence and machine learning are sanctioning us to forecast the future by using data from the past. The two tech leaders will be rooted in the business platform to create and allow smart business operations. They will converge together to reach better results to enable AI to achieve greater accuracy at all levels.
Gartner has identified augmented analytics as a top technology trend for 2019 in a new report Augmented Analytics is the Future of Data Analytics. The company’s Vice President and Fellow David Cearley claims: “Artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of automated things and augmented intelligence is being used together with Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and digital twins to deliver highly integrated smart spaces.”
Data scientists now have increasing amounts of data to prepare, analyse and group, to draw conclusions. But exploring all eventualities becomes impossible so businesses can miss key insights from hypotheses that data scientists don’t have the capacity to explore. What’s more, businesses increase the risk of unintentionally inserting bias into the algorithms.
But how does it work?
Augmented analytics finds concealed patterns while eliminating the personal bias. It focuses on a certain area of augmented intelligence by using machine learning to transform how analytics content is developed, used and shared.
Machine learning modifies how analytic content is developed and used by combining modern analytical capabilities such as data management, data preparation and data science. Augmented analytics insights will then eventually be embedded into enterprise applications which then automates the processes, eliminating the requirement for data scientists. It will also optimise the decisions and actions of all employees, for example, marketing, sales, HR, finance and procurement departments.
“By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated.”
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) & mixed reality (MR)
Gartner explains how conversational platforms are altering the way people interact with the digital world and that VR, AR and MR are altering the way people perceive the digital world. A combined shift in both is leading to the future immersive user experience.
What exactly are the three tech trends?
Augmented reality (AR) refers to a real experience that is created with help from computer graphics in virtual reality. Users see and interact with the real world while digital content is added. In other words, it enhances environment, such as Pokémon Go. Millions of people all over the globe rushed around with their smartphones searching for small virtual creatures.
Smart phone owners can simply download an AR app and experience this technology. There are also AR headsets such as Google Glass, where digital content is shown on a small screen in front of a user’s eye.
On the contrary, virtual reality (VR) is the enactment or intersection of the virtual world to the reality. To experience virtual reality, you must wear a special headset and special hand controllers can be used to enhance experiences. Most work in combination with smartphones, so you insert a smartphone, wear the headset and bobs your uncle, you’re fully immersed in the virtual reality.
The majority of VR headsets are connected to a computer (Oculus Rift) or a gaming console (Playstation VR) but you can also get a standalone device, for example Google Cardboard.
AR and VR are well-known by most of us now, predominantly with regards to video games, but they also hold huge science potential. Some programs run on VR headsets that can detect cancerous cells in real time.
They also have huge opportunity for training, education, marketing, entertainment and even rehabilitation after an injury. They could boost theme parks and train dentists to perform teeth extraction.
It’s certain that AR will encompass a large slice of the tech sector in 2019. Big players like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google are investing heavily in AR. Facebook is leading the way having bought Oculus for $2 billion, and having pledged to spend an additional $500 million, including the recent launch of the Oculus Go wireless headset. There are also plans for augmented reality glasses.
Mixed reality (MR) is the least known of the trio, but it typically refers to a system that blends the physical world with virtual environments and the digital world. As its name suggests, it enables you to experience an amalgamation of the real world and digital effects, allowing you to see a mix of the real world like AR and also virtual objects (VR).
“Over time, we will shift from thinking about individual devices and fragmented user interface (UI) technologies to a multichannel and multimodal experience. The multimodal experience will connect people with the digital world across hundreds of edge devices that surround them, including traditional computing devices, wearables, automobiles, environmental sensors and consumer appliances,” said Mr. Cearley.
“The multichannel experience will use all human senses as well as advanced computer senses (such as heat, humidity and radar) across these multimodal devices. This multiexperience environment will create an ambient experience in which the spaces that surround us define “the computer” rather than the individual devices. In effect, the environment is the computer.”
Another recent phenomenon are digital twins. Put simply, a digital twin is a digital representation that mirrors a real-life item (physical twin), process, place or system that are connected together. Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be over 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints, and that digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things.
Firstly, organisations will simply implement the concept, which will then evolve over time. This will then improve its ability to assemble and foresee the correct data, apply the right analytics and rules, and respond effectively to business concepts.
Mr Cearley, Vice President of Gartner said: “One aspect of the digital twin evolution that moves beyond IoT will be enterprises implementing digital twins of their organizations (DTOs).”
A DTO is a dynamic software model that relies on operational or other data to understand how an organization operationalizes its business model, connects with its current state, deploys resources and responds to changes to deliver expected customer value,” said Mr. Cearley.
“DTOs help drive efficiencies in business processes, as well as create more flexible, dynamic and responsive processes that can potentially react to changing conditions automatically.”
Blockchain aims to reshape industries by ensuring trust, offering transparency and decreasing friction across business ecosystems to potentially reduce costs and transaction settlement times, and improve cash flow.
How does it work?
Blockchain is the expertise behind the Bitcoin and is a type of distributed ledger. It eradicates the need for transaction between any two parties in the cryptographically secured blocks of data which are time stamped and mined through the consensus mechanism. These blocks are linked together by a hash pointer which links to the previous block.
But blockchain has another benefit, it offers significant security. In layman’s terms, blockchain refers to data in which you can only augment – you cannot reduce it or alter it, hence the term “chain” as you’re making a chain of data. As the previous block cannot be changed, this makes it particularly secure, so a third-party is not required to oversee or validate transactions.
Blockchain eradicates the need for central authorities in arbitrating transactions which is useful in banks, governments and clearinghouses.
According to Gartner, the key value proposition is reducing business and technology friction as this ledger is independent of individual applications and potentially operating across companies.
Quantum computing (QC) is new to the stage but has to be one of the most enthralling technologies researchers have worked on this century so far.
According to Dario Gil, COO and vice president of AI and quantum at IBM Research, says quantum computing experimentation and research will increase this year, with new studies on how it can potentially assist in training and running AI models.
But what exactly is QC?
QC is a type of nonclassical computing that works on the quantum state of subatomic particles, such as electrons and ions, that signify elements denoted as quantum bits (qubits). It can cope with problems that are too complicated for a traditional approach or where traditional algorithms would take too long to answer.
It has impressive computational power, meaning it’s likely to be a cloud service rather than an onsite machine. Industries that will benefit most are the automotive, insurance, military, financial, pharmaceuticals and research organisations. IBM already offers cloud-based quantum computing services.
“A core element of quantum algorithms is the exploitation of exponentially large quantum state spaces through controllable entanglement and interference,” says Gil. “As the complexity of AI problems grows, quantum computing – which thousands of organisations are already accessing via IBM’s cloud quantum computing services – could potentially change how we approach AI computational tasks.”
“The race toward building the first fully-functional, fully-working quantum computer (also called supercomputer) is on”. The first brainchild will have a noteworthy advantage over the rest. The competence to accomplish supercomputer authority will increase, making the last leg of the race predominantly secretive, for palpable reasons!
So there we have it, seven trends that are sure to shape 2019 for businesses of all types!
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