The main drivers shaping the future of information technology
Every business leader is bombarded with promises of groundbreaking new technology that will singlehandedly shatter their existing business model. They must adapt or be eaten alive by unimagined competitors faster than ever before. This is probably true, although it is highly nuanced. It is hard to predict the impact of each new technology and released product. In Acandos new insight analysis, see the article on “Predicting the Future”, we use a concrete methodology to paint the picture of our future and the maturity of each technology.
We have researched the activity in information technology at the level of applied and commercialized research. We found that there are five main technological drivers that will be a central part of the technologies of the future. That is cloud computing, internet of things, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Each of these technologies will have a major impact alone, but the real potential lies where these technologies converge.
Although the field of cloud computing has been commercialized for a while, there is still untapped potential. More and more can be “lifted” into the cloud. Local data centers, privately owned servers and backend systems can be completely placed in the cloud.
As Moore’s law is coming to an end, one solution might be to move all computing to the cloud. Large data centers do not have the same requirement on heat and space. Companies like Nvidia are working on a system where games are run on large data centers and transmitted to personal computers. There is also development in taking the operating system out of devices and into the cloud. This can allow smaller devices to run computationally intensive tasks without the need to create even smaller transistors.
Internet of things
As sensors and internet communication devices are cheaper than ever before, we are buying loads of them and connecting all the dumb things we have together; refrigerators, light bulbs, shoes, watches, meat thermometers and doorbells are soon to be connected and constantly communicating. Although this may seem like just another nerd dream, the commercial possibilities are vast.
By integrating smartness into every aspect of industries, one can continuously monitor every system and process. This can be used to automation of tasks like driving and production. Another low hanging fruit is to move away from reactive repairs to proactive repairs. This can lead to dramatic cost reductions and effectiveness. According to a McKinsey study: “The IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025”.
The blockchain is the underlying technology behind Bitcoin. Put in simple terms, the blockchain is an algorithm that offers a way of integrating trust into the internet. Instead of relying upon centralized institutions, like banks, to overview the exchange of value, one can now use a transparent and distributed system. The blockchain is a more efficient system, so even centralized blockchains can prove valuable for industries. This may lead to completely digitized currencies, the idea of which has undergone a paradigm shift the last year. Large corporations like IMF is now urging banks to invest in cryptocurrencies, and the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has seen a fivefold increase from January to June 2017. Since the systems are more effective, we might see new payment models, where it can be profitable to accept microtransactions, like charging a newspaper reader per article he or she consumes.
Every year, the machine intelligence is getting more and more refined. Developments in artificial intelligence is central to most of the predictions made by futurists. A large-scale automatization of tasks in retail, transport, law, software and management is likely to happen. This process is completely different from previous industrial revolutions, because the tasks that are automated are no longer manual and well-defined. For machines to handle complex tasks that are subject to a high degree of variance and external stimulation, we need a new set of tools that allow machines to learn by themselves. These tools are called machine learning, and consist of various forms of algorithms, like the popular deep learning. Machine learning algorithms allow a machine to extract useful information from data to act upon events in the future. Much like humans learn from experience. We have seen various breakthroughs in fields like self-driving cars, digital assistants, chess-robots, advertisement targeting due to the fast development of artificial intelligence.
The internet today, is based around information connected by an immense web of pages. In the future, we are likely to see a shift into much more extreme form of user experience, centered around a more direct emotional and sensory stimulation. This development is mostly led by the breakthroughs in virtual reality, where tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Alphabet are working on building goggles that can either create completely virtual worlds for the user, or augment the reality that is shared with other humans. The technological development is not limited to optical illusions from goggles, but takes in the full range of senses from sound to touch and taste. These efforts stand aim towards the same goal, although in a non-immersive fashion, as the drug industry that is gradually making better and better chemical tools to enhance and alter our perception of reality.
As these technologies become available, better developed and distributed, the future will bring a radically new form of warfare. That is the topic of the next blogpost, followed by a closer look at quantum computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual reality.