Industry unpacks 2019's game-changing tech

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Experts have highlighted what they believe will be the top technology trends for next year.
Experts have highlighted what they believe will be the top technology trends for next year.

Artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, blockchain and the Internet of things (IOT) will be some of the game-changing technologies come 2019.

Several technology companies and experts have highlighted what they believe will be the top technology trends for next year.

Ettienne Reinecke, group CTO at Dimension Data, says the application of game-changing technologies is becoming more pervasive, and their adoption is growing steadily. "In the next five years, they'll be firmly embedded in many of the core processes and technologies we use," he notes.

Compelling outcomes

Last year, Dimension Data predicted that AI, machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality would start to converge to deliver compelling outcomes.

"Over the past year, we've seen this trend coming to fruition, and I expect it to accelerate. One reason for this is an improved understanding of how and where to use such technologies. And, of course, we're also seeing growth in the number of skilled people who know how to leverage them," says Reinecke.

According to him, there's been a massive amount of investment in blockchain over the past 12 months. He notes that in the financial and capital markets, blockchain-based platforms are rapidly starting to dominate.

"We're now starting to see this extend to additional settlement areas such as equity trading. There's also been a proliferation of blockchain-based smart contract platforms across multiple vertical segments, both in the private and public sectors."

Reinecke points out that today, almost every company has access to large volumes of data, adding that current business models will be re-engineered by the value of the data that's generated by existing activities.

"The value of the data will supersede the value of traditional revenue activities, an interesting concept in its own right."

Computing power

For Byron Clatterbuck, CEO at Seacom, as the cloud becomes the major basis of computing power and digital services, data centres, which support these capabilities, and store-related information, are moving closer to the edge, namely their users.

In a South African context, this shift reflected in the arrival of Azure Data Centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg during the tail-end of 2018, with Amazon's AWS following hot on their heels.

A positive sign, Clatterbuck says, this change indicates international acknowledgement of SA's (and Africa's) economic potential.

"ICT players have a key role to play, helping to advise on the location of the mushrooming new vendor-neutral centres so that locations of computing power are diversified and optimised for high-priority economic sectors. This is a break from the previous situation, where a couple of larger, highly centralised and resource-intensive data centres were the norm."

According to Clatterbuck, 2019 looks like it's going to be more about the acceleration of existing ICT and digital economy trends than the emergence of brand new technologies.

"This said, one of the most notable changes worldwide is the transplanting of processing power from desktops and devices to the cloud. Moving forward, expect our screens to act more like terminals, while edge data centres are where the actual computing takes place."

Jeff Clarke, vice-chairman for products and operations at Dell, says virtual assistants continue to be pervasive in consumer technology: smart home technologies, 'things' and connected cars, learning users' preferences and proactively serving up content and information based on previous interactions.

"We'll see this machine intelligence merge with augmented and virtual reality in the home to create truly immersive experiences - like a virtual sous chef that can help you whip up an easy meal for the family.

"And, you'll be more connected to your personal health, with even more intelligent wellness tracking devices that can capture more information about the body, like heart rate variability, sleep patterns and more, that you can easily share with healthcare providers for better care," says Clarke.

Immersive intelligence

He believes immersive intelligence will also follow us to work. "Our PCs and devices we use every day will continue to learn from our habits and proactively boot up with the right apps and services at the right time."

According to Clarke, advances in natural language processing and voice technologies will create a more productive dialogue with machines, while automation and robotics will create faster, more fluid collaboration with technology to get more done.

He believes the first 5G devices are slated to hit the market sometime next year, with the much-anticipated next-generation network that promises to completely change the data game in terms of speed and accessibility.

"Low-latency, high-bandwidth networks mean more connected things, cars and systems, and a boat load of AI, machine learning and compute happening at the edge, because that's where all the data will be generated.

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