Getting a jump on the year to come, Gartner has taken a stab at the top strategic technology trends businesses and IT professionals should be on the lookout for in 2018.
It should be noted that the analyst firm defines a strategic technology trend as one with “substantial disruptive potential that is beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use, or which are rapidly growing trends with a high degree of volatility reaching tipping points over the next five years”.
"Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018 tie into the Intelligent Digital Mesh,” Gartner vice president and fellow, David Cearly, said. “The intelligent digital mesh is a foundation for future digital business and ecosystems.
"IT leaders must factor these technology trends into their innovation strategies or risk losing ground to those that do,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) makes an appearance in the analyst firm’s list for 2018, as do intelligent things and apps. Less expected is the inclusion of items such as the so-called ‘digital twin’, cloud to the edge, and continuous adaptive risk and trust.
Below is Gartner’s full list of the most important strategic tech trends to watch out for in 2018:
The ability to use AI to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience will drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2025, according to Gartner.
As a result, creating systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously will be a major battleground for technology vendors through to at least 2020.
"Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together,” Cearly said.
Intelligent apps and analytics
With AI becoming the next major battleground in a wide range of software and service markets, packaged software and service providers need to be thinking about how they'll be using AI to add business value in the form of advanced analytics, intelligent processes and advanced user experiences.
According to Gartner, over the next few years, virtually every app, application and service will incorporate some level of AI.
"Explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity and not simply as a way of replacing people," Cearley said. "Augmented analytics is a particularly strategic growing area which uses machine learning to automate data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing for a broad range of business users, operational workers and citizen data scientists."
On the subject of AI, the technology is already well on its way to driving advances for new intelligent “things”, such as autonomous vehicles, robots and drones, and delivering enhanced capability to many existing things, like connected consumer and industrial systems.
“We are likely to see examples of autonomous vehicles on limited, well-defined and controlled roadways by 2022, but general use of autonomous cars will likely require a person in the driver's seat in case the technology should unexpectedly fail," Cearly said.
"For at least the next five years, we expect that semiautonomous scenarios requiring a driver will dominate. During this time, manufacturers will test the technology more rigorously, and the nontechnology issues such as regulations, legal issues and cultural acceptance will be addressed,” he said.
This refers to the digital representation of a real-world entity or system. In the context of internet of things (IoT) projects, digital twins are particularly promising over the next three to five years, according to Gartner.
The analyst firm suggests that well-designed digital twins of assets have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision making, with digital twins linked to their real-world counterparts used to understand the state of the thing or system, respond to changes, improve operations and add value.
"Over time, digital representations of virtually every aspect of our world will be connected dynamically with their real-world counterpart and with one another and infused with AI-based capabilities to enable advanced simulation, operation and analysis," Cearly said.
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