6 Predictions

6 Business Predictions For The New Year

With files from Bell MTS Business Hub

The only constant is change — particularly with technology, where the pace of digital disruption happens at breakneck speed. So much so, it’s hard to know if you should jump on (or off) the bandwagon. But organizations can take advantage of this change if they can anticipate coming trends, according to Gartner VP and analyst Daryl Plummer.

“Organizations can turn continuous change into an asset if they sharpen their vision in order to see the future coming ahead of the change,” said Plummer, at a recent IT expo.

That’s why you can — and should — use predictions to strategically plan for the future. Of course, predictions are just that, but staying on top of what’s happening will help you prepare and budget for these trends in your 2019 plans.

Get ready for 5G

As the next generation of wireless technology, 5G networks are on the horizon and the businesses that are ready for it will be the ones leading the enterprise pack. Low latency 5G networks —  which promise to attain near-20 Gbps download speeds — will be the driver of next-gen technologies including video streaming, VR/AR, self-driving vehicles and the Internet of Things.

The transformational potential of this technology cannot be understated — according to IDC, by 2022 the 5G and 5G-related network infrastructure market will grow from approximately US $528 million in 2018 to $26 billion.  Companies should already have a 5G strategy in place that extends and expands upon current and future business goals.

Improved access to data

New networks will also be critical on the edge, but also for cloud. As we eventually see a worldwide shift from LTE to 5G, cloud users will be able to access data faster than ever. But the benefits extend beyond speed.

“Instead, we’re literally talking about a network experience that rivals — or even bests — corporate LAN connectivity to the desktop,” writes Andrew Froehlich in a column for Light Reading. He goes on to say this will “completely reset our cloud computing experience from mobile devices,” and help augmented reality and edge computing truly take off.

Companies that are drowning in a sea of structured and unstructured data and information will continue to  look for ways to navigate and make sense of it all. As research firm Forrester notes, with better data governance in mind, 2019 should be the year where 40 per cent of firms establish and maintain automation centres to have a better grip on data issues around auditing, change management and security.

Artificial intelligence infusion

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being infused into most business operations, from the supply chain to financial services. IDC predicts worldwide spending on AI will grow to US$52.2 billion by 2021 (at which point it will be used by 75 per cent of all enterprise applications). By 2019, IDC predicts 40 per cent of digital transformation initiatives will use AI services, and recommends “every industry and every organization should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies.”

Even if you’re not sure how AI will fit into your business, it’s worth exploring — particularly because it’s expected to pervade almost every industry, even creating new categories of technology, according to Gartner. In its top 10 strategic technology trends, the research firm noted that AI will drive new capabilities in autonomous ‘things,’ including drones, robotics and vehicles.

It will also be used for augmented analytics, as big data continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Rather than replace data scientists, however, Gartner expects AI will work alongside humans to make their job easier through features such as automated algorithms. This could help to derive more value out of your big data.

Cloud computing moves to the edge

Tying into automated ‘things’ and augmented analytics is edge computing, where processing is done on the edge of the network rather than in a data centre or cloud. Many ‘things’ can’t afford latency — like autonomous vehicles that must analyze data related to traffic or road conditions in real time — which means the edge of the network is going to become increasingly important.

It may be time to start building out your infrastructure to support edge computing (which includes more storage and compute power at the edge), as well as architectures such as 5G that will ramp up over the course of 2019.

But just because we’re moving to the edge doesn’t mean cloud is dissipating. Instead of talking about public, private and hybrid clouds, we’re now talking about connected clouds or multi-cloud, an approach that involves using different clouds for different purposes, or different cloud providers rather than one. Indeed, this will become the preferred strategy among 69 per cent of organizations by 2019, according to 451 Research.

“Basically, what’s happening is that companies are realizing that going all public cloud, private cloud or data center isn’t the best option. Sometimes, they need a mix of all or both. Thus, connected clouds are continuing to develop to meet companies’ changing needs — whether they want to cloud-source storage, networking, security, or app deployment,” writes Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst of Futurum Research, in an article for Forbes.

Security and digital transformation

If your business hasn’t already taken a proactive approach to cybersecurity, it’s time to step things up. IDC is predicting that, by 2020, 60 per cent of technology decision-makers will make the move toward devising and developing digital trust frameworks that can anticipate, assess and proactively take on security threats and events.

All of this, ultimately, is about digital transformation. It’s not about deploying new technologies for the sake of having the latest and greatest, but about changing the way we fundamentally do business — the way ride-sharing apps changed the transportation industry.

Not all of these technologies are enterprise-ready — some may fail and some may suffer setbacks. So set realistic expectations, ensure you have the right skill sets in place and come up with a game plan so you can unlock the value of what’s to come.

Beyond digital transformation  

In 2019, businesses must define an approach to digital transformation that suits IT budgets and future aspirations.

According to a recent MIT Technology Review report, 90 per cent of firms polled are already using AI to boost customer experience and boost revenue. In addition, Forrester predicts that 2019 will be the year digital transformation shifts from “super-wide enterprise efforts” to a more nuanced and pragmatic approach across the business.

* Originally posted in BellMTS Business Hub *