In this second in a series, members of the U.S. commercial emerging technology practice discuss the technologies that have reshaped business and society in the past decade, and will continue to transform the ways in which we live and work in the next one.
What will be the most transformative forces for business and society in this decade?
Every new product and application will have some kind of intelligence built into it.
The role of artificial intelligence (AI) will be much more about the cognitive in the next 10 years. Right now, organizations are trying to digitize existing processes, and replace functions piece by piece with machines. This will evolve to focus more on true cognitive computing, where the technology will keep getting better at understanding what we want and taking action. We see examples already as consumers, where AI can both give us information (e.g., “What’s the recipe for blueberry muffins?”) and take action (e.g., “Set the oven to 350 degrees.”). In the next few years, we’ll see seamless integration of AI in the workplace, at both an employee and an organization level.
AI is really a buzzword right now. But just as the worldwide web went from being a buzzword to ubiquitous, we’ll see the same for AI. Every new product or application will have some kind of intelligence built into it in the next five years.
Now that the technology has matured, society will move to mature around it.
It’ll be interesting to see how business models such as the gig economy – ways of working which technology so easily enables – develops over the decade, particularly how technology will impact and be impacted by regulation, employment laws, and vendor relations. As emerging technology – whether it’s AI or augmented reality – makes its way into the mainstream, and we’re on the verge of the “augmented human,” how does society mature around it? I think that’s one of the most interesting things to watch for going forward.
The pendulum will swing from public cloud to private cloud and back.
I agree that we’ll see a shift in how individuals make use of technology. For organizations, we’ll also see a pendulum shift how technology is delivered.
Over the next few years, early adopters of public cloud will begin to move their workloads back into private data centers, but with advancements they created when going to the cloud. This is because expected cost savings aren’t being realized, and because security concerns aren’t going away any time soon.
What’s interesting is that, over the 10-year horizon, the pendulum will then swing back towards the public cloud as platform technologies (e.g., Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry) advance to better support dynamic workload shifts including data, really extracting and abstracting public cloud offerings and making them commodities. However, there will still be a need to take a balanced cloud approach that addresses obligations to protect critical data, protect privacy, comply with regulation and mitigate risk.
A host of new services and models will be built around finding, using and protecting data.
I’m glad you brought up data, Kurt. Currently, every organization is responsible for the privacy and security of their customers’ data, and you’re seeing requirements like those of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) making their way into the U.S., such as with the new California Consumer Privacy Act. It’s one reason organizations are cautious about the public cloud. People sometimes call data the new oil. And, just as there were business models that sprang up to explore, extract and refine oil, and regulations around its safety and use, we’re at the beginning of this phase for data. We can expect to see a host of new services and models built around finding, using, and protecting data.
Change management is at the heart of making innovation impactful
What’s interesting to me is how do those business models emerge? Revision of business and operational models is still at the heart of making innovation actually impactful. Large enterprises, for example, have built up a wealth of data in their existing systems. They also have the resources to examine and exploit new data sources. They should be able to bring those data sources together to create sophisticated new algorithms for AI, or develop and execute on complex segmentation to achieve personal touch with their customers. Their ability to do so, however, is directly tied to how well they manage and plan for change.
As smart infrastructure matures, it will introduce new opportunities to deliver insights
Consumers share more data every day and companies are getting smarter & smarter at personalizing experiences. As smart infrastructure matures, live-event experiential design will likely grow in an effort to drive real-time personalization. Not only will that change how we engage with our environments, but it’ll allow us to interact with a whole new layer of data – new insights, new services, even smarter devices. That’s really what will be transformational.
Definitely, Scott, we’re going to start to see more machine-to-machine communication and really hyper-location aware machines. So whether it’s a watch, a phone or a car, that machine will be able to better anticipate what you want or need because you’re in a certain space. Watch for 5G and then later quantum computing being major catalysts for this kind of innovation.
In our third and final blog in this series, our experts focus on how organizations can best prepare for the impact of this kind of transformative technology.