1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML):
The ability to automate business practices or reinvention of business models and ecosystems, definitive decision making and redefining the customer experience are the few things that can be compared to the potential of AI. According to Gartner, 59% of the organisations are hard at work to build their AI strategy while many others are adopting AI programs or piloting. Google demonstrated that it could teach the bot (AlphaZero) to learn the rules of chess in 4 hours before defeating the world champion in the Computer Chess Tournament Stockfish.
Artificial Intelligence will change data analytics through learning from past analytical tasks with enormous amounts of data to pull from the previous queries. Over time, the results will be faster with accurate future predictions based on the current events. Machine Learning is the core of AI, and in 2018, industry saw many new product releases from major technology vendors with machine learning components being the core technology. ML will power business analytics by identifying potential issues or problems that might not be detected by humans. Hence, organisations that do not adopt AI or deploy data analytics is sure to be left behind their competitors who use AI.
AI has seen significant developments in 2018, it is still not too smart, and it is too rudimentary to be used in many cases since AI and ML are not there yet in dealing with grey areas and ambiguity, and understanding the context of unstructured datasets for which companies are hiring armies of resources to do the sorting, cleaning, and preparing the data that is required to be fed the algorithms data for them to do their job.
Therefore, from a business standpoint, AI is all about automation, preventive, predictive and prescriptive analytics, business process automation and driving radical efficiency and productivity. Hence the market for AI solutions is predicted to reach US$47 billion by 2020. These facts put in perspective that AI is still in a nascent stage as a business solution while it is my observation that the best way to get any startup funded is to call it an AI startup – whether you are building a selfie or logistics drone, delivering food, or creating an app. The tech industry has made the biggest bets ever in AI and money is pouring into AI solutions with a hope that it will help the businesses automate mundane tasks and identify inefficiencies in the system that are holding growth and productivity and help solve the most intractable problems. This is the reason for AI to top the number one on the list. It is going to be exciting to watch the innovation and growth in the coming year.
2. Hybrid Cloud Computing hold as the standard strategy for Cloud Industry and its Providers:
The cloud industry’s maturity and growth is the shift in focus from the organisation’s own technology and towards new orientation centred on what the customers and businesses need or want. Nowhere has it been more apparent than with the advent of Hybrid cloud. This adoption has created a huge opportunity for the so-called ‘legacy’ companies which have years of on-premise experience to gracefully interweave the new and old infrastructure/system to align with the customer’s business requirements. Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, SAP, and Oracle all have made significant moves in 2018 to grab the market leadership in the Hybrid Cloud Computing space, and every enterprise cloud player/vendor will require to make their hybrid cloud case to drive the growth in the coming year.
3. Distributed Ledger or Blockchain Technology:
The most talked about and a revolutionary decentralised technology that stores and exchanges data for cryptocurrencies has opened many new business possibilities for different industries other than what it was originally designed for. Organisations are experimenting using blockchain technology for establishing trusted networks, to improve transparency, and reduce costs and risks. Even though seeing a sluggish bear market for cryptocurrencies and dumped all year long there still remains a strong interest in the cryptocurrency by the heavyweights such as IBM, IEC (International Exchange), and Starbucks as they started accepting crypto payments on their platforms with Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Newer enterprises are finding it more accessible to adopt blockchain technology than the legacy businesses. However, the IT giant IBM has been the pioneer in investing in both the mindpower and money into the blockchain, evidenced by a string of announcements in 2018 and a drive to file scores of the blockchain related patents. According to data provided on blocklr.com IBM in collaboration with Mastercard ranks the second highest number of blockchain patents filed jointly. IBM contends that they have filed 9,043 patents, including a new way to accept the payments from an untrusted party using the blockchain technology.
IBM’s blockchain platform has approximately over 400 clients using Hyperleder Fabric and Hyperledger Composer. IBM and Maersk built a TradeLens Blockchain Shipping Solution to help streamline international logistics which uses smart contracts and is designed to facilitate large-scale, international shipping. IBM said that the platform has handled 154 million shipping events to date. Hong Kong’s second largest Terminal Operator adopts Blockchain enabled technological solution TradeLens platform to document Logistics Data.
IBM is also working with Walmart for improving the latter’s food business supply chain. Visa in its Press Release announced Visa is integrating open source blockchain code using Hyperledger Fabric with an anticipated launch in the first quarter 2019, the new enterprise blockchain cross-border B2B payments solution offering “Visa B2B Connect.” The founding member banks of the Digital Trade Chain (DTC) consortium has now re-branded as “We.Trade.” Powered by the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain framework using IBM’s platform, we.trade provides a platform for tracking, managing, and protecting open trade account transactions between the SMEs. It harnesses both the Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It connects the parties involved in the trade (the buyer, buyer’s bank, the seller, seller’s bank and the transporter) and registers the entire trade process, the order of payment, displaying it on the dashboard at-a-glance, user-friendly interface, and guarantees automatic payment when all the contractual agreements are met.
Early this quarter, IBM announced, “IBM Food Trust” the blockchain based cloud network providing retailers, suppliers, and food industry providers with data across the food ecosystem to enable greater transparency, traceability, and efficiency. In a press release, IBM announced that the global retailer Carrefour would use IBM Food Trust blockchain platform to strengthen its food excellence steps and to the rollout of Carrefour’s Act for Food, a global program concrete initiatives in favour of food transition.
Though most of the patents have come from China, IBM was Awarded Patent for “Secure System Based on Blockchain”. The technology enables the detection of security breaches within a network by connecting all the monitors to a chain configuration, which registers all events in the network. This, in turn, might help to prevent different sorts of hacks. A monitor can be easily intruded upon in a regular system as “none of the devices know about each other,” and hackers can “clean up” past events to gain control.
IBM has been awarded a patent for the autonomous self-servicing of networked devices that form part of its “Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT)environment.” The patent, first filed in late June 2016, was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). IBM has engagements with over 500 clients around global trade, universal payments, around trade finance, around food safety, etc., and the portfolio continues to improve. IBM shares first place globally with Chinese e-commerce corporation Alibaba in terms of blockchain-related patents filed. As per recent report by intellectual property outlet iPR Daily, Alibaba has registered 90 patents, while IBM follows behind with as many as 89 blockchain patents a staggering number for in a space that has only been in existence for nine years since the inception of Bitcoin.
Therefore 2018 has been a year of mixed fortunes for Blockchain globally. The distributed ledger technology has garnered a lot of attention and has moved from mostly hype into early technological developments, proofs-of-concept and pilot projects during the last 12 months. The blockchain technology is rather a nascent sector. Nonetheless, the ever-growing interest and its ability to enable sizable and significant transformations in different industries demonstrate the power the blockchain sector holds. Despite the constant flux in the blockchain sector, there are many disruptions in the rapidly evolving trends on the horizon ahead. We will have to wait to watch which of these trends will materialise into real-time implementations.
4. Edge or Fog Computing:
Edge computing is the critical factor for making the Internet of Things (IoT) work since connected devices will generate a massive amount of data that the, storing, transmitting, and analysing the data at the central location is no longer a viable option. Besides, connected devices such as robots, drones, and self-driving cars will require extreme rapid processing capability. Therefore, creating the data, sending it to the cloud for analysis and then sharing the results to the device is time-consuming. According to the market predictions, the industry will add approx 100 trillion sensors to the global economy leading to the generation of an unfathomable amount of data. The solution for all this data which requires rapid processing is doing Edge Computing. Doing computations at the edge of the network or near to the source of the data. For, e.g., an average self-driving car might produce approx; one Gigabyte of data per second, which will increase in the coming decade. Sending that data to the cloud, analysing it, and sending the results back is not a feasible option anymore.
Therefore, in 2018 Edge Computing saw an increased focus by enabling intelligent networks, where the connected devices performed the required analytics at the source itself and used the results to perform the respective actions. Using edge computing the processing happens in a few milliseconds which otherwise on cloud computing used to take hundred milliseconds. However, the IT Cloud Computing giants are yet to leverage the opportunities of the Edge Computing. Microsoft has developed Azure IoT Edge while Amazone AWS Greengrass. Although, 2018 saw Edge or Fog computing find its way to connected devices but will be genuinely taking off in 2019.
5. Man vs Machine – A Glimpse to Robotic Revolution:
CES 2018 saw a splash made by ‘Sophia’ the brainchild of the Hong Kong’s Hanson Robotics the most impressive displays of smart, empathetic, and human-like Artificial Intelligence. A milestone achieved in the humanoid robotics. Sophia’s software is powered with Google, helping her to hold a developed and advanced level conversation with humans including, philosophising, smart retorts, and occasionally well-timed jokes. However, the commercial applications are not clear yet. Sophia indeed remains a spectacular example of innovation and possibilities offered by the smart AI.
Boston Dynamics an American engineering and Robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is best known for the development of BigDog, a quadruped robot designed for the U.S. military with funding from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DI-Guy, software for realistic human simulation. It has achieved a significant breakthrough in its milestone in which the ‘Atlas’ the humanoid robot can do a lot of things including backflips, running through snow without falling on its face, jumping over a log, perform the job of a warehouse worker, and deal with frustrating situations, and parkour better than humans. However, the CEO of Boston Dynamics Marc Raibert doesn’t know exactly how the industry will use robots like the ‘SpotMini.’
The world’s half of all the robots are in Asia, Europe – 32%, NA – 16%, Australia – 1%, Africa – 1% and 30% of all the robots in the world are in Japan. Japan is the world leader in the Robotics Technology and is said to be the “Robotic Capital” of the world, and the Japenese government is trumpeting robotics as a pillar of its growth strategy where robots and human-beings co-exist.
To summarise, 2018 has been the year of transition and many breakthroughs within the technological sectors as mentioned above. The technologies will continue to improve exponentially. AI will become smarter, and Blockchain market will mature. ICOs will become increasingly regulated. Cloud Computing will make way for Edge Computing and a tough fight between a Man vs a Robot. Overall a great year for the technological advancements which the industry has experienced since the past decade. Let us look forward to a terrific disruption in the coming year.
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