Tech trends 2018: enterprises go large on AI, cloud and augmented reality

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Around this time of year, we like to take a look around at the technology marketplace and see what industry stakeholders are predicting for the year to come. What can we expect from 2018?

CIOs take charge of digital transformation

According to Forrester, the role of the CIO is set to evolve still further, even to the point of making the chief digital officer's position obsolete in 2018. CIOs will grasp the nettle and take charge of digital transformation drives, making themselves strategic partners to their CEOs and controlling all things digital.

Digital transformation will remain a chief strategic initiative, but the onus will be on CIOs to ensure that enterprises have the right personnel and culture in place for the business to flourish. Forrester is of the further view that successful CIOs will be those that can turn their technology management department into the company’s digital transformation office.

AI and IoT continue apace

Forrester also expects artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to keep their place at the forefront of CIO thinking and business strategy, with companies transforming their operating models and using digital to add real value.

At its Symposium event in Orlando, Gartner projected that AI, machine learning and tools such as conversational platforms, digital twins and blockchain will be the areas where CIOs look to allocate major chunks of budget. This spend is forecast to contribute to a global IT investment of $3.7 trillion, up 4.3 percent from one year ago.

Gartner also believes that AI and immersive experiences will play a growing part in the enterprise environment in 2018 and beyond, with intelligent apps and analytics helping drive next-generation digital business models and ecosystems.

Cloud more vital than ever

Cloud will remain as central to business success as ever, with Forrester predicting that over than 50 percent of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to help them drive digital transformation and great customer experience. Forrester also forecasts that the global public cloud market will be worth $178 billion in 2018, up from $146 billion in 2017, at a CAGR of 22 percent.

In a similar vein, IDC predicts continued upwards growth for cloud, with its FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions stating that “If you’re not in the cloud, you’re isolated from innovation.”

Convergence on the horizon?

AI and IoT are also potentially set to converge with blockchain. The three technologies have enjoyed great growth over the past few years, and each represents a different aspect of the data world – 2018 could see them really converge.

The upshot of this could be that all three technologies come together and work within a seamless ecosystem, offering enhanced connectivity, greater efficiency and better security.

AR in the enterprise gaining pace

Augmented reality (AR) will grow more quickly from 2018 onward, according to ABI Research. Enterprise uptake of AR will fuel this, and the analyst house is forecasting that AR will reach an inflection point in 2018, with smart glass shipments growing at a CAGR of 227 percent.

ABI also forecasts that total AR market revenues will continue to grow in 2018, reaching $96 billion by 2021, with the largest market share being in energy, manufacturing and logistics.

User interfaces continuing to evolve

Gartner also believes that 2018 will see different ways of searching increase, as “consumers favor visual and voice search.” Gartner also predicts that “by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30 percent,” underlining their belief that end users talking to machines will continue to grow in popularity and be commercially realized.

Digital transformation dominates

According to IDC’s FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions, the need for enterprises to undertake digital transformation will see them allocate increasingly large chunks of their IT budgets to the process. “By the end of 2019, digital transformation spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion worldwide, a 42 percent increase from 2017.”

Skills and talent remain vital

While digital transformation will cement its place at the center of business strategy, Forrester research found that skills and talent will be as important as ever in 2018. Sixty-five percent of CIOs believe a skills shortage is holding them back, and over 50 percent say developing or acquiring new skills is a high priority for IT in the coming year.

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