The technology at our fingertips is changing our world, and we all get to shape how that happens. This year’s Tech Trends looks at eight themes ripe for industry and organizational innovation right now. The report also includes information on six exponential technologies, compiled in collaboration with Singularity University: artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, quantum computing, industrial biology, and cybersecurity. Each is an innovative discipline evolving fast, whose impact could prove to be immeasurable.
Readers will get a nuanced view of how technology is pushing us to better integrate our business approaches, transform industries, and the way we go about our daily lives. Without further ado, here are the eight trends.
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.
The role of the CIO is evolving rapidly, with integration at the core of its mission. CIOs should begin to view their responsibilities through an enterprise-wide lens to help ensure critical domains like digital, analytics, and cloud aren’t spurring redundant, conflicting, or compromised investments within departmental or functional silos. They can become both the connective tissue and the driving force for intersecting, IT-heavy initiatives.
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.
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.
Translating the possibilities of embedded sensors and connected devices into business impact requires focus. We have to purposefully bring smarter “things” together with analytics, security, data, and integration platforms to make the parts work seamlessly together. Ambient computing is the backdrop of sensors, devices, intelligence, and agents that puts the Internet of Things to work.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been elevated from a development technique to a business model driver and boardroom consideration. 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.
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.
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.