From using Apple’s Siri to ask about the weather, to checking google maps on your smartphone for directions or even downloading Netflix shows on your tablet, it is impossible to ignore the fact that technology plays a role in our everyday lives. It is obvious that technology is changing at a rapid pace with this continuous innovation process of new devices providing insightful digital services. As 2018 is rapidly coming to an end, it makes you wonder what 2019 will bring in terms of technological advancements. We decided to go through a recent Gartner report and summarize some of the technology trends they are predicting for 2019 including autonomous things, immersive technologies, digital twins and many more developments that can offer benefits to everyone in the near future.

1. Autonomous Things

According to Gartner, “Autonomous things use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans.” Artificial intelligence is capable of performing advanced behaviour, automating routine human activities and interacting smoothly with surrounding environments and other people. Autonomous things can be found in physical devices such as robotics, vehicles, consumer appliances (IoT devices), drones and agents.

The following are some examples of how automation is currently used and how it will look in the near future in different industries:

  • Microsoft and Uber are starting to use Knightscope K5 autonomous patrolling robots to predict and prevent crime.
  • With the help of the U.S. National Robotics Initiative, automation in agriculture is bringing this sector to the next level with robots that can autonomously operate farms and unmanned aerial vehicles that can study crop solutions.
  • Automation is also being used in safer transportation with companies like Tesla, Uber, Lift, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Nissan and Ford. They believe self-driving cars will greatly reduce the number of car accidents. According to Gartner, “By 2021, 10% of new vehicles will have autonomous driving capabilities, compared with less than 1% in 2018.”
  • Virtual personal assistants and chatbots also help in facilitating the exchange of information and data and completing mundane routine tasks at the command of the user. According to Gartner, “By 2022, more than 50% of all people collaborating in Industry 4.0 ecosystems will use virtual assistants or independent agents to interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people:”
  • In the agriculture industry, drones will be able to dispatch an autonomous harvester once the fields are ready.
  • In the future, package deliveries will include autonomous vehicles going to each location while drones and robots on board can deliver each individual item to their destination.
  • There is also a plan in Dubai to use autonomous police vehicles which can release drones for surveillance.

2. Augmented Analytics

Augmented analytics is an area of augmented intelligence that includes automated data management and integration. According to Gartner, “Augmented analytics uses automated machine learning to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared.”

The act of having to prepare data and manually finding patterns in data are complex activities. Trying to find every possible pattern combination is an impossible task because there exists an infinite number of variables, which then causes researchers to maybe overlook and miss key findings. Augmented analytics, therefore, allows data scientists to find more hypotheses and patterns they may not have been able to discover for themselves.

Augmented Analytics delivers more advanced insights and reduces greatly the time researchers spend exploring data. They can even discover findings and hypotheses without their own biases mixed into it.  Gartner is predicting that by 2020, over 40% of data science tasks will be automated which will increase the productivity of data scientists. In the future, augmented analytics will be embedded into autonomous things that interact with users like through voice and text on mobile devices and personal assistants.

3. AI-Driven Development

Gartner defines AI-driven development as exploring “the evolution of tools, technologies and best practices for embedding AI capabilities into applications.” AI-powered systems and tools will offer more flexibility with assisting and automating functions in application development. Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service (IaaS/PaaS), offer artificial intelligence service providers for creating AI-enhanced solutions and these types of services will only continue to grow through 2021. For example, big corporations like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and IBM have AI service providers offered in the cloud.

4. Digital Twins

According to the Gartner report, the concept of a digital twin can be described as, “a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. The implementation of a digital twin is an encapsulated software object or model that mirrors a unique physical object.” Digital twins, like IoT projects, are linked to their real-world objects and are used to understand and improve its system and operations, respond to changes and allow for improved user experiences.

The Gartner report mentions that digital twins will evolve over time and will help with different business opportunities like with the emergence of more smart spaces in cities and buildings. Some assets to using digital twins include predictive maintenance, increasing operational efficiency in factories, they can predict equipment failure and make repairs before it breaks down, provide insight on how products can be improved, monitor business operations, enhance product development and performance and they can suggest new features to improve the overall safety and efficiency of a business model.

In the future, digital twins of people, processes, organizations and environments will provide advanced simulations and help with strategic and operational decision making. In fact, by 2021, most industrial companies will use digital twins which will increase their effectiveness by 10%.

5. Edge Devices

With this next trend, it is important to mention the differences between edge computing and cloud computing as they are complementary to each other. According to Techopedia, edge computing data does not have to travel far in the network and it helps improve network security. It deploys data and network operations toward individual endpoints like laptops, tablets and smartphones. Gartner describes it as a “computing topology in which information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources and repositories of this information.” As for cloud computing, these are centralized data centres where “scalable technology capabilities are delivered as a service using internet technologies”, for instance, Microsoft Office 365 is installed onto client devices on the edge cloud.

If you were wondering about other kinds of edge devices, the most common and familiar types include smartphones, autonomous vehicles, appliances, industrial devices, speakers, PCs and power generators. IoT, mobile and desktop environments play a big part in cloud and edge computing, connecting these devices with one another and with back-end services are an essential part of digital twins. Gartner is predicting an increase in embedding storage, sensors and AI capabilities into edge devices.

The need to move large amounts of data from one edge device to another will require 5G, which is the next cellular standard after 4G/LTE and will offer an enhanced mobile broadband, machine communication for IoT edge computing and reliable low-latency communications. According to Gartner, between 2018 to 2020, 5G will mostly be used for supporting IoT communications, high definition video and fixed wireless access, “We expect that, by 2020, 4% of network-based mobile communications service providers (CSPs) will launch the 5G network commercially.”

6. Immersive Experiences

As you know from some of our previous posts on augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, these technologies lead to an immersive user experience providing a richer environment for delivering information. They are changing how people perceive and interact with the digital world. In businesses using AR, VR and MR, productivity is increased as they help with connecting to remote workers, provide training, improve manufacturing conditions, detect problems in factory equipment and it allows for hands-free information.

According to Gartner, “By 2022, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have deployed them to production.” Nowadays, smartphones have access to this technology. They can be connected to low-cost head-mounted displays like the Google Cardboard or the Google Daydream. With augmented reality, digital graphics can be overlaid on top of the real world and virtual reality can provide users with 360-degree virtual video content, immersing them completely into another world, allowing them to forget about their current environment. And mixed reality, which provides a balance between AR and VR, uses the Microsoft HoloLens to provide vast possibilities in the healthcare field. It can aid doctors to prepare for complicated surgeries and help view the internal parts of a body to help medical students practice their surgical skills.

Gartner predicts that the future holds a lot of new possibilities for conversational platforms. These are platforms where the user and machine interact with natural language. Soon other senses like taste, sight, smell and touch will be added as new levels of interaction and expanding these sensory channels could detect emotions from facial expressions.

Some well-known conversational platforms include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. The type of communication done with these platforms is often for asking simple requests or questions, like how to convert ounces into grams or asking about this week’s weather conditions. People will be able to connect to the digital world through hundreds of edge devices like wearables, appliances, automobiles and environmental sensors and rooms and spaces will become more active and immersed in virtual worlds.

7. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is known as a digital ledger stored in a distributed network recording anything from financial transactions to physical assets and works as a base for digital currency, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. With this digital ledger, all transactional events can be traced from any point in time.

Blockchain is an alternative to centralized record keeping institutions like banks, clearinghouses and governments. These central authorities add delays on to transactions like fees and commissions. Blockchain removes the need for these central authorities for transactions and builds trust and transparency in many different sectors and industries like in financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. By 2030, blockchain will create $3.1 trillion in business value.

There are several benefits to using blockchain technology:

  • Automates business processes
  • Digitizes records
  • Conducts efficient operations
  • Traces digital and physical assets
  • Secures data sharing and distribution
  • Triggers actions where payment is released once goods are received
  • Helps trace food across a supply chain to assist in recalling products and identify where and how it became contaminated

8. Smart Spaces

According to Gartner, “A smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems.” Spaces like smart homes, workplaces and cities create more immersive, interactive and automated environments and experiences. These are intelligent, comprehensive environments bringing together different technologies.

Smart spaces will evolve through openness, connectedness, coordination, intelligence and scope. The elements of a smart space are easily accessible and trends such as IoT, digital twins and edge computing all add to the connectedness of a smart space. Smart spaces use machine learning and AI to push forward automation and immersive interactions and deliver augmented and intelligent services to the people within that space.

Gartner predicts that by 2028 smart spaces will continue to expand with IoT edge devices to the point where people will no longer have to use computers because the world around them will be their computer. Smart cities will promote citizen engagement and improve the quality of life, and in the near future, there will be spaces such as smart hospitals, smart factories and smart agriculture.

9. Digital Ethics and Privacy

With all these advanced technologies collecting our personal data, for instance in smart homes using AI and IoT technology, there is a concern for privacy and wanting to secure this information and to understand how the personal data is being used.  

Failure to incorporate privacy in an organization inevitably leads to customer mistrust, a lack of loyalty and it damages revenue and profitability. According to Gartner, “A 2017 survey indicates, 87% of consumers say they will take their business elsewhere if they don’t trust that a company is handling their data responsibly.”

Businesses have to show that their products and services are privacy-friendly because trustworthiness is what drives revenues. Gartner predicts that by 2020, “Companies that are digitally trustworthy will generate 20% more online profit than those that aren’t.”

10. Quantum Computing

To describe this trend simply, Gartner provides an example of how quantum computing works, “Imagine a library that includes every book ever written. A conventional computer would read each book sequentially to search for a particular phrase. Quantum computers read all the books simultaneously.” The automotive, financial, insurance, pharmaceuticals, military and research organizations industries are those that benefit the most from quantum computing.

Quantum computing is capable of running algorithms that can accelerate pattern recognition, they can make new material discoveries, design new chemical processes, it can accelerate time to market for new cancer-treating drugs, accurately predict new pharmaceutical methodologies and develop new fertilizers.

As you can see, based on this summary of the Gartner report, there is a lot in store in terms of technology trends for 2019. Keep an eye open for these advancements in the near future! For more on this topic, feel free to visit our Technology Trends blog page!

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