Artificial intelligence, immersive experiences, digital twins, event-thinking and continuous adaptive security create a foundation for the next generation of digital business models and ecosystems.
How do designers make cars safer? They treat them like a school of fish. Safe Swarm, recently unveiled by Honda, uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication to allow cars to pass information on to other cars in the vicinity. For example, alerts about an accident miles up the road could be relayed to cars miles back, enabling them to operate collaboratively and intelligently to avoid accidents and mitigate traffic.The evolution of intelligent things, such as collective thinking car swarms, is one of 10 strategic trends with broad industry impact and significant potential for disruption.“The continuing digital business evolution exploits new digital models to align more closely the physical and digital worlds for employees, partners and customers,” says David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, at Gartner 2017 Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida. “Technology will be embedded in everything in the digital business of the future.”
The Intelligent Digital Mesh
Gartner calls the entwining of people, devices, content and services the intelligent digital mesh. It’s enabled by digital models, business platforms and a rich, intelligent set of services to support digital business.Intelligent: How AI is seeping into virtually every technology and with a defined, well-scoped focus can allow more dynamic, flexible and potentially autonomous systems.Digital: Blending the virtual and real worlds to create an immersive digitally enhanced and connected environment.Mesh: The connections between an expanding set of people, business, devices, content and services to deliver digital outcomes.
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Trend No. 1: AI Foundation
The ability to use AI to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience will drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2025.
Given the steady increase in inquiry calls, it’s clear that interest is growing. A recent Gartner survey showed that 59% of organizations are still gathering information to build their AI strategies, while the remainder have already made progress in piloting or adopting AI solutions.
Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps and Analytics
Over the next few years every app, application and service will incorporate AI at some level. AI will run unobtrusively in the background of many familiar application categories while giving rise to entirely new ones. AI has become the next major battleground in a wide range of software and service markets, including aspects of ERP. “Challenge your packaged software and service providers to outline how they’ll be using AI to add business value in new versions in the form of advanced analytics, intelligent processes and advanced user experiences,” notes Cearley.
Trend No. 3: Intelligent Things
Intelligent things use AI and machine learning to interact in a more intelligent way with people and surroundings. Some intelligent things wouldn’t exist without AI, but others are existing things (i.e., a camera) that AI makes intelligent (i.e., a smart camera.) These things operate semiautonomously or autonomously in an unsupervised environment for a set amount of time to complete a particular task. Examples include a self-directing vacuum or autonomous farming vehicle. As the technology develops, AI and machine learning will increasingly appear in a variety of objects ranging from smart healthcare equipment to autonomous harvesting robots for farms.
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Trend No. 4: Digital Twins
A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. In the context of IoT, digital twins are linked to real-world objects and offer information on the state of the counterparts, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. With an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future. Potentially billions of dollars of savings in maintenance repair and operation (MRO) and optimized IoT asset performance are on the table, says Cearley.
Trend No. 5: Cloud to the Edge
Edge computing describes a computing topology in which information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources of this information. Connectivity and latency challenges, bandwidth constraints and greater functionality embedded at the edge favors distributed models. Enterprises should begin using edge design patterns in their infrastructure architectures — particularly for those with significant IoT elements. A good starting point could be using colocation and edge-specific networking capabilities.
Trend No. 6: Conversational Platforms
Conversational platforms will drive a paradigm shift in which the burden of translating intent shifts from user to computer. These systems are capable of simple answers (How’s the weather?) or more complicated interactions (book a reservation at the Italian restaurant on Parker Ave.) These platforms will continue to evolve to even more complex actions, such as collecting oral testimony from crime witnesses and acting on that information by creating a sketch of the suspect’s face based on the testimony. The challenge that conversational platforms face is that users must communicate in a very structured way, and this is often a frustrating experience. A primary differentiator among conversational platforms will be the robustness of their conversational models and the API and event models used to access, invoke and orchestrate third-party services to deliver complex outcomes.
Trend No. 7: Immersive Experience
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality are changing the way that people perceive and interact with the digital world. Combined with conversational platforms, a fundamental shift in the user experience to an invisible and immersive experience will emerge. Application vendors, system software vendors and development platform vendors will all compete to deliver this model.
Over the next five years the focus will be on mixed reality, which is emerging as the immersive experience of choice, where the user interacts with digital and real-world objects while maintaining a presence in the physical world. Mixed reality exists along a spectrum and includes head-mounted displays (HMD) for AR or VR, as well as smartphone- and tablet-based AR. Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, Apple’s release of ARkit and iPhone X, Google’s Tango and ARCore, and the availability of cross-platform AR software development kits such as Wikitude, we expect the battles for smartphone-based AR and MR to heat up in 2018.
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