The end of 2016 is still two months away, but it isn’t too early for forward-looking MSPs in all vertical markets to get a handle on next year’s IT trends. This is especially true of strategic technology trends—defined by Gartner either as those that have substantial disruptive potential and are just now starting to break out of an “emerging state” into broader impact and use, or as those that are rapidly growing, with a high degree of volatility and a strong likelihood of reaching a tipping point over the next five years.
Gartner has identified the top 10 such trends for 2017. We present the first five here; the remaining five will be covered in our next blog post.
1-AI and Advanced Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning (ML) comprise many technologies and techniques, including—but not limited to—deep learning, neural networks and natural language processing. The more advanced techniques do more than use rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. This, according to Gartner, is why smart machines appear to be “intelligent.”
Gartner foresees applied AI and advanced machine learning as sparking multiple intelligent implementations, including physical devices like robots, which, as many experts see it, have a place in manufacturing settings. Apps and services, such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors that would definitely suit some verticals (for example, professional services), will be driven by applied AI and advanced machine learning implementations as well. So, too, will be embedded intelligence for a wide range of mesh devices and existing software and service solutions.
Intelligent apps like VPAs will be adopted because of their potential to make everyday tasks easier by performing some of the functions now handled by human assistants (e.g., prioritizing email) and bolstering user effectiveness and productivity (e.g, highlighting important content and interactions), according to Gartner. This makes them a potential fit for professional services. Other intelligent apps, such as virtual customer assistants (VCAs), will be more specialized for tasks in areas like sales and customer service—and hence, worth exploring by MSPs that work in the retail vertical and other markets where sales and service come into play.
Intelligent things are physical entities that transcend rigid programming models, exploiting applied AI and machine learning to deliver advanced behaviors and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people. Gartner predicts that as intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, continue to proliferate, there will be a shift from standalone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model.
4-Virtual and Augmented Reality
Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), transform the way individuals interact with one another and with software systems. “The landscape of immersive consumer and business content and applications will evolve dramatically through 2021,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, in a statement about these trends, based on his presentation at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. “VR and AR capabilities will merge with the digital mesh to form a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes to the user as hyper-personalized and relevant apps and services,” he said.
A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system that relies on sensor data to understand its state, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. Digital twins include a combination of metadata (for example, classification, composition, and structure), condition or state (for example, location and temperature), event data (for example, time series), and analytics (for example, algorithms and rules).
According to Gartner, organizations will use digital twins to proactively repair and plan for equipment service, plan manufacturing processes, operate factories, predict equipment failure or increase operational efficiency, and perform enhanced product development. As such, they will eventually become proxies for the combination of skilled individuals and traditional monitoring devices and controls (for example, pressure gauges, pressure valves). Looks like a perfect fit for manufacturing clients.
Lots of food for thought for MSPs….stay tuned for the next five technologies in a subsequent blog.