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IDC predicts top technology trends for 2018

Diversified cloud, advanced AI and DIY development among the research firm’s predictions for the next 12 months and beyond. Here’s what you need to know.


Hand holding a globe on a background 2018. The concept of a new year.

It’s that time of year when, just as the clocks fall back to eke more daylight out of autumn, IT researchers gaze forward into the future.

IDC recently peered into its crystal ball for 2018, unveiling its annual predictions of the top technology trends for the next 12 months and beyond. Frank Gens, senior VP and chief analyst, boiled down the findings of several IDC researchers and analysts into a webcast presentation of what’s going to be hot in tech next year — and how it will affect enterprise organizations.

Here, some selected highlights.

1) Diversified cloud

Like anything that’s been around the block for about a decade, cloud is growing up and getting more sophisticated.

We’ll see more cloud at the edge vs. just at the core data centre level, much of it to leverage the Internet of Things. There will also be more specialized cloud and multiple cloud adoption. In this landscape, multi-cloud management and cross-platform integration are crucial. All of this will drive spending on cloud services and cloud-enabling hardware, software and services to $530 billion by 2021, doubling 2017 investment levels.

“So it’s not the old-fashioned cloud that was vanilla IT,” Gens said.

His advice? Develop an integration framework across your cloud platforms and seek vendors offering more open cloud architecture so you can develop and integrate on your own through APIs.

2) Advanced AI

AI is finally taking root in the enterprise. IDC predicts that by 2019, 40 per cent of all digital transformation initiatives will use AI services. By 2021, 75 per cent of commercial enterprise apps will be using AI, and more than 90 per cent of consumers will interact with customer support bots.

The takeaway for enterprise IT? Get busy getting AI-ready. Find the right AI talent, make sure your data is high quality, allot a place to store it, and develop privacy and security rules around collecting data and using it for AI purposes.

“Privacy and security present serious landmines for AI-based DX efforts,” Gens warned.

3) Blockchain traction

The blockchain revolution will gain some serious momentum. By 2020, IDC estimates nearly 30 per cent of manufacturers, 25 per cent of the top (by transaction) global banks and 20 per cent of healthcare organizations will have blockchain networks in production.

IDC vigorously encourages enterprises to run, not walk, to the blockchain party at this point in the game. If you get on the train as an early adopter, it’s an opportunity to establish a strong market position and forge strategic blockchain partnerships.

Gens suggests developing a blockchain plan for your organization, complete with use case scenarios. Joining one or more blockchain consortia, which are often clustered around specific industry sectors, can help you gain ground rather quickly, he added.

4) Open architectures

Enterprises are embracing containers and microservices, especially to develop and test in-house applications in a faster, more efficient way. IDC calls this a “shift toward hyper agile architectures.” It says by 2021, 80 per cent of enterprise application development will take place on cloud platforms (i.e. PaaS) using microservices and cloud functions, and 95 per cent of new microservices will be deployed in containers.

Gens said this trend “may force the introduction of a more open source approach and culture” that results in more collaborative development. That’s because, while virtual machines each have their own operating system kernel, containers share a common host OS, binaries and libraries.

In this day and age, Gens said, openness and collaboration are required: “If you’re coding by yourself, you’re not going to make it. You’re going to need outside parties to help you.”

APIs are making this possible, too. IDC predicts that by 2021, more than half of the world’s G2000 corporations will see a third of their digital services interactions enabled through their own internal, open API systems. Gens said that by developing internal APIs, organizations can accelerate their innovation and expand the types of products and services they offer.

5) DIY development

Just how open can IT get? As open as low-code and no-code (LCNC) tools. As TechTarget notes, these are so simple that they allow non-developers (heck, even non-IT business staff) to create applications. IDC forecasts that by 2021, LCNC tools will build 20 per cent of all business applications and 30 per cent of new applications features.

While that sounds dandy for in-house development, IDC does raise a couple of cautionary red flags here. Gens said organizations should educate and train their staff about LCNC tools, and formulate rules around using them in a secure way, especially to avoid shadow IT with line-of-business workers.

Do you spot a theme in these predictions? What jumps out at me is the shift to more open, agile, collaborative technology inside the enterprise — even to the point of enabling non-IT staff to build business apps.

“The lines between traditional IT and line-of-business units are blurring every day,” Gens acknowledged. “It’s time for a new IT model,” he said, one that blends the needs of business units and the skills of IT teams more effectively, instead of treating them still as separate silos.

Image: iStock

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