Need a review of technology trends for your strategic plan? Below is our round-up of the top technology trends for 2016 as predicted by consulting and market research firms Gartner, McKinsey, and Deloitte. Our comparison table lets you see where the three firms agree, and includes potential functional impacts.
|Device mesh||Mobile Internet||Ambient computing||IT, Marketing|
|Amibent user experience||IT, Marketing (product management, new product development)|
|3D printing materials||3D printing||Operations|
|Information of everything||Amplified intelligence||All functions|
|Advanced machine learning||Advanced robotics||HR, Operations|
|Automonous agents & things||Automation of knowledge work||IT worker of the future||HR, IT, Marketing (customer service)|
|Adaptive security architecture||IT|
|Advanced system architecture||IT|
|Mesh app & service architecture||Cloud technology||Software-defined everything||IT|
|IoT platforms||Internet of Things||IT, Marketing (product management, new product development)|
|Energy storage||Marketing (product management, new product development)|
|Genomics||Marketing (product management, new product development)|
|Advanced materials||Marketing (product management, new product development)|
|Autonomous vehicles||Marketing (product management, new product development), Operations|
|Renewable energy||Marketing (product management, new product development), Operations|
|Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery||Operations|
|CIO as Chief Integration Officer||HR, IT|
|Dimensional marketing||HR, Marketing (product managment, sales)|
Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016
Analysts from Gartner, Inc. highlighted the top-10 technology trends that they believe will be strategic for most organizations in 2016 at the company’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015 held in Orlando from October 4-8, 2015.
Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to the business, end users or IT, the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. These technologies impact the organization’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives.
“Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends will shape digital business opportunities through 2020,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “The first three trends address merging the physical and virtual worlds and the emergence of the digital mesh. While organizations focus on digital business today, algorithmic business is emerging. Algorithms — relationships and interconnections — define the future of business. In algorithmic business, much happens in the background in which people are not directly involved. This is enabled by smart machines, which our next three trends address. Our final four trends address the new IT reality, the new architecture and platform trends needed to support digital and algorithmic business.”
The company believes that the top-10 strategic technology trends for 2016 are:
- The Device Mesh
The device mesh refers to an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses. The device mesh includes mobile devices, wearable, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive devices and environmental devices — such as sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT).
“In the postmobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices,” said Mr. Cearley.
While devices are increasingly connected to back-end systems through various networks, they have often operated in isolation from one another. As the device mesh evolves, we expect connection models to expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices to emerge.
- Ambient User Experience
The device mesh creates the foundation for a new continuous and ambient user experience. Immersive environments delivering augmented and virtual reality hold significant potential but are only one aspect of the experience. The ambient user experience preserves continuity across boundaries of device mesh, time and space. The experience seamlessly flows across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels blending physical, virtual and electronic environment as the user moves from one place to another.
“Designing mobile apps remains an important strategic focus for the enterprise,” said Mr. Cearley. “However, the leading edge of that design is focused on providing an experience that flows across and exploits different devices, including IoT sensors, common objects such as automobiles, or even factories. Designing these advanced experiences will be a major differentiator for independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises alike by 2018.”
- 3D Printing Materials
Advances in 3D printing have already enabled 3D printing to use a wide range of materials, including advanced nickel alloys, carbon fiber, glass, conductive ink, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biological materials. These innovations are driving user demand, as the practical applications for 3D printers expand to more sectors, including aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military. The growing range of 3D-printable materials will drive a compound annual growth rate of 64.1 percent for enterprise 3D-printer shipments through 2019. These advances will necessitate a rethinking of assembly line and supply chain processes to exploit 3D printing.
“3D printing will see a steady expansion over the next 20 years of the materials that can be printed, improvement in the speed with which items can be printed and emergence of new models to print and assemble composite parts,” said Mr. Cearley.
- Information of Everything
Everything in the digital mesh produces, uses and transmits information. This information goes beyond textual, audio and video information to include sensory and contextual information. Information of everything addresses this influx with strategies and technologies to link data from all these different data sources. Information has always existed everywhere but has often been isolated, incomplete, unavailable or unintelligible. Advances in semantic tools such as graph databases as well as other emerging data classification and information analysis techniques will bring meaning to the often chaotic deluge of information.
- Advanced Machine Learning
In advanced machine learning, deep neural nets (DNNs) move beyond classic computing and information management to create systems that can autonomously learn to perceive the world, on their own. The explosion of data sources and complexity of information makes manual classification and analysis infeasible and uneconomic. DNNs automate these tasks and make it possible to address key challenges related to the information of everything trend.
DNNs (an advanced form of machine learning particularly applicable to large, complex datasets) is what makes smart machines appear “intelligent.” DNNs enable hardware- or software-based machines to learn for themselves all the features in their environment, from the finest details to broad sweeping abstract classes of content. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.
- Autonomous Agents and Things
Machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. While advances in physical smart machines such as robots get a great deal of attention, the software-based smart machines have a more near-term and broader impact. VPAs such as Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are becoming smarter and are precursors to autonomous agents. The emerging notion of assistance feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.
“Over the next five years we will evolve to a postapp world with intelligent agents delivering dynamic and contextual actions and interfaces,” said Mr. Cearley. “IT leaders should explore how they can use autonomous things and agents to augment human activity and free people for work that only people can do. However, they must recognize that smart agents and things are a long-term phenomenon that will continually evolve and expand their uses for the next 20 years.”
- Adaptive Security Architecture
The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy combined with an emerging “hacker industry” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. Relying on perimeter defense and rule-based security is inadequate, especially as organizations exploit more cloud-based services and open APIs for customers and partners to integrate with their systems. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks. Application self-protection, as well as user and entity behavior analytics, will help fulfill the adaptive security architecture.
- Advanced System Architecture
The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. Providing this required boost are high-powered and ultraefficient neuromorphic architectures. Fueled by field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as an underlining technology for neuromorphic architectures, there are significant gains to this architecture, such as being able to run at speeds of greater than a teraflop with high-energy efficiency.
“Systems built on GPUs and FPGAs will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use,” said Mr. Cearley. “FPGA-based architecture will allow further distribution of algorithms into smaller form factors, with considerably less electrical power in the device mesh, thus allowing advanced machine learning capabilities to be proliferated into the tiniest IoT endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.”
- Mesh App and Service Architecture
Monolithic, linear application designs (e.g., the three-tier architecture) are giving way to a more loosely coupled integrative approach: the apps and services architecture. Enabled by software-defined application services, this new approach enables Web-scale performance, flexibility and agility. Microservice architecture is an emerging pattern for building distributed applications that support agile delivery and scalable deployment, both on-premises and in the cloud. Containers are emerging as a critical technology for enabling agile development and microservice architectures. Bringing mobile and IoT elements into the app and service architecture creates a comprehensive model to address back-end cloud scalability and front-end device mesh experiences. Application teams must create new modern architectures to deliver agile, flexible and dynamic cloud-based applications with agile, flexible and dynamic user experiences that span the digital mesh.
- Internet of Things Platforms
IoT platforms complement the mesh app and service architecture. The management, security, integration and other technologies and standards of the IoT platform are the base set of capabilities for building, managing and securing elements in the IoT. IoT platforms constitute the work IT does behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality. The IoT is an integral part of the digital mesh and ambient user experience and the emerging and dynamic world of IoT platforms is what makes them possible.
“Any enterprise embracing the IoT will need to develop an IoT platform strategy, but incomplete competing vendor approaches will make standardization difficult through 2018,” said Mr. Cearley.
McKinsey: The 12 Disruptive Tech Trends You Need to Know
“No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends” is a recent book from McKinsey’s in-house think tank, McKinsey Global Institute, that offers insight into which developments will have the greatest impact on the business world in coming decades. Below is their list of the “Disruptive Dozen” — the technologies that McKinsey believes have the greatest potential to remake today’s business landscape.
- Energy Storage
The book’s authors predict that the price of lithium-ion battery packs could fall by a third in the next 10 years, which will have a big impact on not only electric cars, but renewable energy storage. There will be major repercussions for the transportation, power generation, and the oil and gas industries as batteries grow cheaper and more efficient.
As super computers make the enormously complicated process of genetic analysis much simpler, the authors foresee a world in which “genomic-based diagnoses and treatments will extend patients’ lives by between six months and two years in 2025.” Sequencing systems could eventually become so commonplace that doctors will have them on their desktops.
- Advanced Materials
The ability to manipulate existing materials on a molecular level has already enabled advances in products like sunglasses, bike frames, and medical equipment. Scientists have greater control than ever over nanomaterials in a variety of substances, and their understanding is growing. Health concerns recently prompted Dunkin’ Donuts to remove nanomaterials from their food. But certain advanced nanomaterials show promise for improving health, and even treating cancer. Coming soon: materials that are self-healing, self-cleaning, and that remember their original shape even if they’re bent.
- Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous cars are coming, and fast. By 2025, the “driverless revolution” could already be “well underway,” the authors write. All the more so if laws and regulations in the U.S. can adapt to keep up. Case in point: Some BMW cars already park themselves.
- Renewable Energy
Wind and solar have never really been competitive with fossil fuels, but McKinsey predicts that status quo will change thanks to technology that enables wider use and better energy storage. In the last decade, the cost of solar energy has already fallen by a factor of 10, and the International Energy Agency predicts that the sun could surpass fossil fuels to become the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050.
- Advanced Robotics
The robots are coming! “Sales of industrial robots grew by 170% in just two years between 2009 and 2011,” the authors write, adding that the industry’s annual revenues are expected to exceed $40 billion by 2020. As robots get cheaper, more dexterous, and safer to use, they’ll continue to grow as an appealing substitute for human labor in fields like manufacturing, maintenance, cleaning, and surgery.
- 3D Printing
Much-hyped additive manufacturing has yet to replace traditional manufacturing technologies, but that could change as systems get cheaper and smarter. “In the future, 3D printing could redefine the sale and distribution of physical goods,” the authors say. Think buying an electric blueprint of a shoe, then going home and printing it out. The book notes that “the manufacturing process will ‘democratize’ as consumers and entrepreneurs start to print their own products.”
- Mobile Internet
The explosion of mobile apps has dramatically changed our personal experiences (goodbye hookup bars, hello Tinder), as well as our professional lives. More than two thirds of people on earth have access to a mobile phone, and another two or three billion people are likely to gain access over the coming decade. The result: internet-related expenditures outpace even agriculture and energy, and will only continue to grow.
- Automation of Knowledge Work
It’s not just manufacturing jobs that will be largely replaced by robots and 3D printers. Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel report that by 2025, computers could do the work of 140 million knowledge workers. If Watson can win at “Jeopardy!” there’s nothing stopping computers from excelling at other knowledge work, ranging from legal discovery to sports coverage.
- Internet of Things
Right now, 99% of physical objects are unconnected to the “internet of things.” It won’t last. Going forward, more products and tools will be controlled via the internet, the McKinsey directors say, and all kinds of data will be generated as a result. Expect sensors to collect information on the health of machinery, the structural integrity of bridges, and even the temperatures in ovens.
- Cloud Technology
The growth of cloud technology will change just how much small businesses and startups can accomplish. Small companies will get “IT capabilities and back-office services that were previously available only to larger firms—and cheaply, too,” the authors write. “Indeed, large companies in almost every field are vulnerable, as start-ups become better equipped, more competitive, and able to reach customers and users everywhere.”
- Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and Recovery
The International Energy Agency predicts the U.S. will be the world’s largest producer of oil by 2020, thanks to advances in fracking and other technologies, which improved to the point where removing oil from hard-to-reach spots finally made economic sense. McKinsey directors expect increasing ease of fuel extraction to further shift global markets.
Deloitte: Tech Trends 2015: The Fusion of Business and IT
Deloitte believes that a fundamental transformation is happening in the way C-suite leaders and CIOs collaborate to leverage disruptive change, chart business strategy, and pursue potentially transformative opportunities. The company’s sixth annual Technology Trends report outlines the trends that could potentially disrupt the way businesses engage their customers, how work gets done, and how markets and industries evolve.
- CIO as Chief Integration Officer
As technology transforms existing business models and gives rise to new ones, the role of the CIO is evolving rapidly, with integration at the core of its mission. Increasingly, CIOs need to harness emerging disruptive technologies for the business while balancing future needs with today’s operational realities. They should view their responsibilities through an enterprise-wide lens to help ensure critical domains such as digital, analytics, and cloud aren’t spurring redundant, conflicting, or compromised investments within departmental or functional silos. In this shifting landscape of opportunities and challenges, CIOs can be not only the connective tissue but the driving force for intersecting, IT-heavy initiatives—even as the C-suite expands to include roles such as chief digital officer, chief data officer, and chief innovation officer. And what happens if CIOs don’t step up? They could find themselves relegated to a “care and feeding” role while others chart a strategic course toward a future built around increasingly commoditized technologies.
- API Economy
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been elevated from a development technique to a business model driver and boardroom consideration. An organization’s core assets can be reused, shared, and monetized through APIs that can extend the reach of existing services or provide new revenue streams. APIs should be managed like a product—one built on top of a potentially complex technical footprint that includes legacy and third-party systems and data.
- Ambient Computing
Possibilities abound from the tremendous growth of embedded sensors and connected devices—in the home, the enterprise, and the world at large. Translating these possibilities into business impact requires focus—purposefully bringing smarter “things” together with analytics, security, data, and integration platforms to make the disparate parts work seamlessly with each other. Ambient computing is the backdrop of sensors, devices, intelligence, and agents that can put the Internet of Things to work.
- Dimensional Marketing
Marketing has evolved significantly in the last half-decade. The evolution of digitally connected customers lies at the core, reflecting the dramatic change in the dynamic between relationships and transactions. A new vision for marketing is being formed as CMOs and CIOs invest in technology for marketing automation, next-generation omnichannel approaches, content development, customer analytics, and commerce initiatives. This modern era for marketing is likely to bring new challenges in the dimensions of customer engagement, connectivity, data, and insight.
- Software-Defined Everything
Amid the fervor surrounding digital, analytics, and cloud, it is easy to overlook advances currently being made in infrastructure and operations. The entire operating environment—server, storage, and network—can now be virtualized and automated. The data center of the future represents the potential for not only lowering costs, but also dramatically improving speeds and reducing the complexity of provisioning, deploying, and maintaining technology footprints. Software-defined everything can elevate infrastructure investments, from costly plumbing to competitive differentiators.
- Core Renaissance
Organizations have significant investments in their core systems, both built and bought. Beyond running the heart of the business, these assets can form the foundation for growth and new service development—building upon standardized data and automated business processes. To this end, many organizations are modernizing systems to pay down technical debt, replatforming solutions to remove barriers to scale and performance, and extending their legacy infrastructures to fuel innovative new services and offerings.
- Amplified Intelligence
Analytics techniques are growing in complexity, and companies are applying machine learning and predictive modeling to increasingly massive and complex data sets. Artificial intelligence is now a reality. Its more promising application, however, is not replacing workers but augmenting their capabilities. When built to enhance an individual’s knowledge and deployed seamlessly at the point of business impact, advanced analytics can help amplify our intelligence for more effective decision making.
- IT Worker of the Future
Scarcity of technical talent is a significant concern across many industries, with some organizations facing talent gaps along multiple fronts. The legacy-skilled workforce is retiring, and organizations are scrambling for needed skills in the latest emerging, disruptive technologies. To tackle these challenges, companies will likely need to cultivate a new species—the IT worker of the future—with habits, incentives, and skills that are inherently different from those in play today.
The rapid growth of exponentials has significant implications. Powerful technologies—including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, and synthetic or industrial biology—are ushering in new and disruptive competitive risks and opportunities for enterprises that have historically enjoyed dominant positions in their industries. This year’s Technology Trends report explores discusses exponentials to build awareness and share new knowledge about their trajectory and potential impact.
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