Looking ahead: Top IT predictions for 2018

The start of a new year is a time of reflection and introspection (and making resolutions). It’s also when we gaze into the crystal ball and predict what will happen in the coming year. Here’s a look at what to expect in 2018 — and how to prepare for it.

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Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and 5G are just a few of the hot topics for 2018 — but the bigger question is, how do you tie all these together into a cohesive IT strategy?

After finding myself in discussions about AI with non-techie family members and friends over the holidays, I realized just how pervasive it’s becoming. Indeed, Cherlynn Low writes in Engadget that 2017 laid the foundation for “faster, smarter AI” in 2018.

AI will permeate all industries — and most areas of our lives. “Rather than focusing on one goal, like mastering a game or communicating with humans, AI is starting to make an appearance in almost every new platform, app, or device, and that trend is only going to accelerate in 2018,” writes Jayson DeMers in a blog on Forbes.

A recent Gartner survey found that 59 per cent of organizations are still gathering information to build their AI strategies, while the remainder have made progress in piloting or adopting AI solutions. Gartner says over the next few years “every app, application and service will incorporate AI at some level.”

Then there’s AR. While the Pokémon Go craze has died down, augmented reality is proving to be more popular than virtual reality — at least for now. In part, this is because AR is more accessible and affordable than virtual reality. After all, users can access AR apps directly on their mobile phone — no fancy equipment required.

We are, however, starting to see a new generation of AR glasses come to market — though these are targeted at specialized commercial applications rather than consumers.

These trends will be supported by 5G devices and networks, which will be almost 10 times faster than 4G. While the technology isn’t expected to make its official debut until 2020 (though some say 2019), wireless carriers will be conducting trials this year.

And all eyes will be on the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea — not only to witness athletic achievements, but to see if its “transformative mobile network” delivers on the promise of 5G.

5G will be necessary for the advancement of AI, since it requires faster bandwidth (you wouldn’t want latency in a driverless car, for example, when dealing with potential collision situations). All of the previously mentioned trends require faster bandwidth, which is why 5G is so critical: It will power everything from driverless cars to smart cities.

“With 5G, wireless carriers envision an era of incredibly fast speeds that let smartphone users download a movie in less than five seconds — roughly 100 times faster than the current network technology, 4G,” writes Brian Chen in the New York Times. “Even more important, 5G is expected to greatly reduce latency to let devices communicate with each other with extremely fast response times.”

But this can all seem rather overwhelming to IT pros. Which technologies should you incorporate into your strategy, and how?

Deloitte sums it up well in its annual tech trend report: “It’s all CIOs can do to keep up with each new disruptive technology — blockchain, cognitive, digital reality — and incorporate them into specific organizational domains. But there’s a better way to understand and use today’s profound changes: to see these technological forces as complementary, working in harmony.”

Deloitte calls this the “symphonic enterprise,” and recommends moving beyond vertical or horizontal approaches to new technology: “Ideally, strategy, technology, and operations should work together, in harmony, across domains and boundaries.”

Image: iStock

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