AI, automation to shape 2016 tech trends
As 2015 starts to wind to a close, analysts have already started turning their attention to the year ahead. Gartner has made a series of predictions about what are likely to be the major technology strategy and operational trends for 2016 and beyond.
The Internet of Things has been a major technology trend this year, and Gartner expects this to play a key role in one of the major strategic technology trends for next year — the device mesh.
The research firm defines the device mesh as a diverse set of endpoints comprising mobile devices, wearables, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive devices and environmental devices such as IoT sensors.
“In the post-mobile world, the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices,” Gartner vice president and fellow David Cearley said.
The device mesh will in turn lay the foundation for the delivery of a new continuous and ambient user experience, incorporating augmented and virtual reality and focused on delivering a consistent and seamless experience across a shifting set of devices.
A related trend will involve incorporating information sent and received across the device mesh — including text, audio, video, sensory and contextual information — into a concept Gartner calls Information of Everything, the company has predicted. Advances in data analysis and visualisation tools will enable this trend.
The explosion of data sources and the ever-growing complexity of information is expected to give rise to deep neural nets (DNNs) and other advanced machine learning technologies to help aid in the automated classification and analysis of data.
Machine learning is also primed to lead to the development of a wide range of autonomous or semi-autonomous machines, including vehicles, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors.
Cearley predicted that over the next five years “we will evolve to a post-app world with intelligent agents delivering dynamic and contextual actions and interfaces. IT leaders should explore how they can use autonomous things and agents to augment human activity and free people for work that only people can do.”
New and emerging security threats and computing demands are meanwhile predicted to prompt the development of adaptive security architecture, highly efficient advanced system architectures capable of much faster processing speeds and mesh app architecture enabled by software-defined application services.
Other technology trends expected to be prominent in 2016 include the expansion of 3D printing capabilities to cover a wider range of materials, and a growing requirement for companies embracing the Internet of Things to develop an IoT platform strategy.
Separately, Gartner has made a series of predictions for IT organisations and users for the near future. Machine learning, automation and the growing mesh of connected devices figure heavily into these predictions as well.
The research firm expects that by 2018, 20% of business content — including analysis of data and routine legal or market documents — will be generated by machines. Amid this changing environment, Gartner predicts that by the same year, enterprises will increasingly need to treat connected ‘things’ as customers of services, requiring support in the same way human customers do.
The growing autonomous software trend is expected to shake up the world of work as well, with Gartner predicting that by 2018 more than three million workers worldwide will be supervised by a ‘robo-boss’ autonomously making decisions that previously required a human manager. At the same time, 45% of the fastest-growing companies are expected to have fewer employees than instances of smart machines.
Just two years later in 2020, Gartner expects the ‘programmable economy’ to have taken off in a big way. By this time, autonomous software agents outside of human control are predicted to participate in 5% of all economic transactions worldwide. By the same year, smart agents such as virtual personal assistants are expected to facilitate 40% of mobile interactions.
“The ‘robo’ trend, the emerging practicality of artificial intelligence and the fact that enterprises and consumers are now embracing the advancement of these technologies is driving change,” Gartner vice president and fellow Daryl Plummer said.
"Gartner’s top predictions begin to separate us from the mere notion of technology adoption and to draw us more deeply into issues surrounding what it means to be human in a digital world.”
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