Monday, December 24, 2018

Tech Forecasts: what is the next big thing in 2019?

It is the time of the year when consultants and analysts take stock of the technology trends and prognosticate over emerging technologies. There are many variances to the forecasts and the number of trends predicted, ranging from “top 5” to “top 20” and in-between*. The predictions are around flavors of digital tools and technologies - AI/ML, big-data, SMAC, analytics, Big Data and a few BHAGS like autonomous vehicles and commercial space travel.

Having spent the past couple of decades in the vibrant global tech world, I continue to study and reflect on these forecasts. When read collectively, they are a barometer of where the business investments are headed, especially since the major trends seem to converge on a few common themes. It is also obvious that most analysts glance at the short-term rear-view to ‘predict’ what they see bubbling to the top.


Corporate Digitization playing catchup with Consumer Tech

In the past few years most of the promising emerging technologies were adopted by consumers before finding their way into the corporate world. The earlier generation of iPhones set the bar high for smartphones and consumer adoption eventually leading to BYOD in enterprises. Similarly, consumers began to experience ubiquitous access to WiFi and corporate IT began to follow suite. Machine Learning enabled Chatbots and digital assistants are re-defining consumer User Interfaces using voice and Natural Language to interact with systems.

Many of these technologies are being designed into application platforms and products, enabling corporate users. It is likely that in 2019, we will encounter “2.0” of many of the trends that have already been firming up this year. Let me illustrate with a couple of technology trends that are common in analyst reports


  • Blockchain – Even with the wild swing in the market for Bitcoins this year, tech watchers continued to keep the focus squarely on the underlying cryptographic techniques. Blockchain adoption has moved beyond pilot to production in several industry verticals. Adopting Blockchain techniques to enable trust and traceability between corporate entities will transform some segments of the industry; but it is primarily an underlying technology plumbing to enable Enterprise Architectures, and will be transparent to most users. This is because even the most innovative techniques in data and integration are primarily about enabling secure data transfer. 
  • Robotics and Automation – I spent the good part of this year strategizing and operationalizing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for a Fortune-500 company. These Intelligent Automation techniques continue to make inroads without waiting for organizations to transform their business processes. The reason for this is rather straightforward: even as we move into 2019, there are too many gaps in legacy platforms and processes, that are either too expensive to transform or replace. This is the sweet spot that where adoption of intelligent Automation will continue to make inroads.
  • Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing – Chatbots and intelligent assistants are appearing in a variety of internal and external facing corporate scenarios. However, these are just a small subset of use-cases. Most software vendors are beginning to embed AI and ML techniques into their technology platforms that include supply-chain and planning, recruitment, talent sourcing, big data and analytics, financial data processing and within ERP and CRM systems among others. Such adoption of AI and ML, while transparent to corporate business and technology teams are transforming usability of systems and productivity of users. 

So what do the technology forecasts mean to us?

The year-end is certainly the time to reflect on changes personal and professional, but technology trends and innovations do not follow any calendar; especially not the Gregorian calendar.

  • ‘Technology innovation’ is really a continuum of change that we need to be embracing 
  • Depending on the nature of your role in an organization and its business, there are some technologies that will influence you and your business more than others will. 
  • Your businesses’ appetite for change will dictate the pace of adoption in your organization
A link to a small sampling of tech forecasts - Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019 || Deloitte's 2019 Technology Industry Outlook || ZDNet What’s next for 2019? IoT trends and predictions || Inc. 31 Tech Predictions for 2019 || Looking in a rear-view - Top 10 technology trends to watch in 2018


Thanks for reading! Please click on Like, or Share, Tweet and Comment below to continue this conversation or share your favorite 'trend to watch' | Reposted from my LinkedIn Blog