In a few hours we will be saying goodbye to 2018 and will be welcoming 2019. It’s probably the best time to reflect on the top IT trends of 2018, considering both their technical dimensions and their strategic impact. These trends played a significant role in changing the world during the past year, while paving the ground for exciting developments in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was probably the biggest trend of 2018, since a larger number of enterprises considered embracing AI technologies as part of their digital transformation. In particular, several companies resorted to AI technology as a means of improving their decision making or even launching new business models based on increased automation and less error prone processes. Others focused on enhancing customer experience based on intelligent AI-based systems. In 2018 the focus of AI deployments was on deep learning techniques, but also on the combination and integration of supervised and unsupervised learning approaches within real-life systems. During 2019, we expect AI to remain at the forefront of digitalization trends, with additional learning approaches (such as reinforcement learning) becoming mainstream as well.
In 2018 several industrial organizations placed smart objects and intelligent things at the very top of their digital transformation agendas. In particular, we saw a trend towards industrial deployments that take advantage of robots, drones, autonomous guided vehicles and other objects that embody intelligent algorithms and exhibit (semi)autonomous behavior. Hence, 2018 established smart objects as an integral element of the fourth industrial revolution, which is a very closely linked to the previously discussed AI movement. We expect this trend to be at the top in 2019 as well, given that the functionalities of smart objects will be enhanced, while their cost will continue to decrease.
During 2018 we also witnessed a first batch of digital twins’ deployments in areas like industrial automation, predictive maintenance, supply chain management and more. These trending deployments helped illustrating how digital twins can enable the simulation of physical world phenomena and processes in the cyber-space, as a means of taking optimal decisions prior to deploying industrial systems in the real world. At the same time, they revealed the complexity that is associated with the development of digital twins.
2018 was one more year of hype for blockchain technology. We witnessed fluctuations to the monetary value of blockbuster cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which attracted global interest on public blockchains. At the same time, several startups exploited the advantages of distributed ledgers and blockchain technologies in enterprise areas other than cryptocurrencies and financial services, based on the so-called permissioned blockchains. Nevertheless, as of today cryptocurrencies remain the sole large scale applications of blockchain technology. 2019 will be a year where hype will be diminished, yet we will witness a trend towardslargescale commercial applications in sectors like energy, government and industry.
In 2018 we also observed intensified efforts towards deploying a specific flavor of edge computing technology, which involves the setting up and operation of micro data-centers at the edge. Such deployment configurations provide a host of business opportunities for mobile network operators and cloud providers, as they enable them to support scalable, ultra-low latency and privacy friendly applications for their customers. Likewise, in 2018 an increased number of enterprises acknowledged and used the benefits of mobile edge computing (MEC) towards supporting applications involving mobile devices. We think that MEC will be also among the technology trends of 2019, as the bridge to the 5G era which holds the promise to provide seamless support for all devices regardless of spectrum and radio requirements.
Despite the lack of a major security attack like the “Wanna Cry” ransomware of 2017, security incidents did not stop in 2018 and enterprise interest on cybersecurity was still very high. Moreover, we witnessed the trend of cyber and physical security convergence, as an integrated approach which is increasingly considered by several operators of critical infrastructures in sectors like energy, transport, finance, telecommunications and healthcare. This was partly motivated by security considerations in industrial IoT systems, which foresee the integration of Operational Technology (OT) security systems with IT security systems. This is certainly something that will be continued in 2019 as well.
This year we also saw an increased number of software development teams adopting DevOps processes and tools. DevOps is nowadays considered a must in non-trivial software projects, but also a perfect companion to Continuous Integration (CI) and continuous release technologies. In 2018 many enterprises managed to alleviate the pitfalls of DevOps processes and tools, which are currently much more mature than few years ago. DevOps will remain a priority for development teams in the years to come.
2018 provided tangible showcases about how immersive experiences can make the life of workers easier in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. The Augmented Reality (AR) trend led the way in this forefront, as several AR applications for training, skills development and remote support were developed in industry and healthcare. However, the cost of AR headsets is still high for large scale deployment. Adoption will however continue and expand in the coming years.
Despite the fact that BigData is not within the overhyped technology buzzwords anymore, BigData applications remain on of the top productivity drivers for many enterprises worldwide. In addition to leveraging technological advances in deep learning, computation and storage, we have also witnessed the addition of some more Vs to the BigData applications. Apart from dealing with Velocity, Veracity, Variety, Volume and Value, BigData deployers have in 2018 focused on providing better Visualizations and in several cases in achieving Virality for their systems and applications.
Social media marketing and content based marketing through social networks technology have been primary marketing modalities in 2018. As users are increasingly consuming content in social media, these forms of marketing take priority over conventional SEO and search engine marketing. 2019 will reinforce this trend, making social media marketing a primary tool for industries like e-commerce.
This is our top ten technological trends with an outlook towards 2019, where most of these will be evolving further and driving new IT technological developments. Throughout the year we tried to publish posts on all of the above trends, shedding light in their operation and explaining their business value. It’s our commitment to continue to do so in 2019, for all the major IT trends of the new year. In the meantime, accept our best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!
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