With a vision that actually extends well beyond the year, Stamford analysts present the ten ICT trends whose developments are considered a priority in addressing business strategies and investments

The Gartner Symposium 2018 was held in mid-October in Orlando, Florida . During this annual event, it is a tradition that analysts and associates who are part of the Gartner Groupexpress their ideas on what will probably be the most relevant technological trends of the year to come. The 2019 technology trends are collected in the Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019 , report to which is added the YouTube video of the same title, with further comments and opinions. The following article was taken from these documents and we propose to you, warning you that, as Gartner himself reminds us, the digital trends briefly set out here are not so much evidence in place as phenomena to be explored in view of certainly safe but difficult developments. today to be defined and quantified.

Index of topics

1) Autonomy of things

With this expression, Gartner refers to the ability of physical and virtual objects to operate by interacting directly with the environment through AI functions , without human control. There are five classes of ‘things’ involved. Three in the physical world: robots , vehicles and drones ; and two in the digital one: applications and software agents. All already show achievements with different degrees of autonomy and the prospects for development are both potentially enormous and rather close over time. Accordingly, according to Gartner, it is appropriate for organizations and companies to evaluate how some operations can be rendered autonomous in their own sectors and fields of activity. Being careful, however, that for physical objects as for virtual ones, autonomy does not become independence. In the sense that it should be limited to specific tasks in a defined area a priori. Not only because the AI ​​has (not yet …) neither the decision-making abilities nor those of native learning (not based on instructions or experience) of the human mind, but also, we add, because making things capable of doing itself involves ethical and legal aspects still to be clarified and whose effects and economic and social risks are all to be explored.

2) Augmented analytics

The volume of data to be chosen, grouped and examined to make decisions about it grows to levels that make it practically impossible to use for the business without automating the processes involved. A system generation is born, indicated with the expression ‘ augmented analytics ‘, which uses machine learning platformsand the analysis algorithms contextualized to events to feed new analytical services, more capable of in-depth analysis and often incorporated in the applications for which the analyzes are intended. The importance of this evolution and the reason why Gartner places it among the 2019 technological trends and thinks that it will become mainstream in the short term lies in the fact that automating the identification of data sets, patterns and hypotheses allows the most capable users of business applications (the ‘power users’) to do predictive and prescriptive analysis on their own and act accordingly. The so-called ‘citizen data scientist’ is born, a figure destined to grow by 2020 five times that of the real data expert, an increasingly rare and expensive professional to find in the labor market.

3) AI-driven development

To incorporate artificial intelligence functions into applications(see point 2) new development tools are being created according to a trend that moves in three directions: the first is the transformation of AI tools aimed at data scientists into tools suitable for use by developers; the second is the introduction in these tools of AI capabilities that serve to automate in an ‘intelligent’ way (context and event-aware) the testing and code-generation processes; the third is the addition of a knowledge base of the business processes for which the applications are intended. This evolution, according to Gartner, will also change the organization of development teams from a structure based on collaboration between data scientists and developers to one based on developers (even non-professional) able to use predefined AI models and development tools on their own. provided as a service.

4) Digital twin

Born in the Cad to represent real entities reproducing their structure, functions and capabilities, digital twins are the object of a quantitative evolution, given by the growth of objects equipped with sensors and endpoints (such as new cars) with the possibility therefore of ‘twining’ billions of real objects, but also qualitative. From the initial purpose of non-destructive testing, the use of the digital twin has already extended to the analysis of production processes, twinning entire factories, and to the post-sales assistance and preventive maintenance of products whose operation is reproduced remotely. But above all it will extend from the IoTand from the physical world to that of human relations. By creating the digital twin of an organization (DTO), the operational mechanisms and their response to the business without the risks inherent in any real change can be studied “in vitro”. It is obvious how a software model is not easy to implement and perhaps for this reason there are no weather forecasts. But we agree with Gartner in believing that it’s worth thinking about right now.

5) Edge computing

We talk about systems where data collection, processing and content delivery take place close to the endpoints. The push towards edge computing came from the IoT but this topology offers such advantages in reducing latency due to network traffic and reducing the increasing costs of managing Wan that are expected to be adopted in many other fields. The prevailing model involves running cloud servicesnot only on centralized servers, but on nodes partly distributed on premises and partly on the same peripheral devices. In the medium term, the growing processing capacity and local storage of the endpoints will spread in the medium term and in the long term the extension and maturity of the 5G networks will contribute. But before it becomes a mainstream topology, it will take time. Gartner speaks of 5-10 years, an estimate in our opinion perhaps prudential but due to the management problems posed by the heterogeneity and the different life cycles (long in the industrial world, short in the consumer world) of the endpoints.

6) Immersive experience

The expression refers to the effect of VR, AR and MR technologies, ie virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, in changing the way we perceive and interact with the outside world. It is difficult to predict the modality and speed with which these things, applied today above all in the field of games, will enter the world of work, but it is certain that they will bring a revolution in what is meant as a ‘user interface’, with reflections on productivity and quality of life. Gartner thinks that by 2022 70% of companies will have tested immersive technologies and a fourth will have put them into production. These estimates are probably based more on interviews than on market data, but are indicative of the attention paid to the phenomenon by the companies most open to innovation.

7) Blockchain

It is, as we now know, a technology that allows the tracking of transactions and work processes with non-certified partners (‘untrusted’) without the need for guarantor intermediaries, such as banks for financial aspects or notaries for contractual ones. First applied in the financial area with cryptocurrencies, it expands to logistics, manufacturing and other sectors, where it cuts the cost of exchanges and the closing times of contracts and increases cash flow. For Gartner the blockchain model’pure’ is still immature, poorly understood in its pros and cons and difficult to scale (in our opinion due to the plurality of existing platforms). Many companies, however, are evaluating it and in the future on the blockchains a colossal business could be supported: over three thousand billion dollars by 2030. Meanwhile, solutions appear that even realizing only in part the original model and without guaranteeing the distributed consent of a real blockchain offer short-term economic benefits. Gartner recommends to those interested to understand the limits and avoid lock-in by being ready to move towards a complete blockchain model.

8) Smart space

A concept close to the ‘immersive experience’ mentioned above, the smart space is a physical or digital environment where humans interact with technological systems (not just informational) properly enabled. It is a vision born of the coagulation of experiences on smart cities, which are an extensive example, and which develops in five directions: openness, connectivity, coordination, understanding and obviously definition of objectives. Gartner believes that there are spaces to translate this idea into solutions aimed at certain industrial scenarios and puts the technologies in the ‘top ten’ of 2019 technological trends, without making more specific forecasts, either quantitative or time-consuming.

9) Privacy and ethics

Here we are not talking about technologies but of the responsibility that organizations and companies, especially private ones, must have regarding the pervasiveness of ICT in people’s lives. In Europe the GDPR, finally operational, protection, as far as a law can do, EU citizens from uncontrolled use of their personal data; in the US and elsewhere, regulations are more fluid and different. This is why Gartner speaks only of the need for greater moral responsibility and the transition from due respect for the rules to a new ‘digital ethics’, which says: “it brings the terms of the discourse from being compliant to doing the right thing”. And who does the wrong thing? “It loses the trust of customers, partners and consumers”, is the answer. However, given the value of personal data, it does not consider how sometimes this game can be worth the candle.

10) Quantum computing

The last of the ‘top ten’ is a technology now in its infancy but which promises, when it comes out of the labs, to change the computer science, indeed the digital world, as we know it for seventy years. No more bit sequences equal to zero or one, but qubit flows with infinite combinations given by the different states that subatomic particles can take at the same time. This allows the quantum computer to tackle extremely complex tasks by processing multiple solutions in parallel. But … we have to wait. At least five years or even seven for the first practical achievements. In the meantime, says Gartner, it is better that CIOs in the sectors where intensive computing is needed begin to monitor developments to understand if and how quantum computing can be useful.

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