The business of the future: increasingly smarter, more digital and more shared

Artificial intelligence, advanced data analysis, blockchain and quantum computing will have a decisive impact on future business, market and business organizational models. What awaits us is a hyper-technological and connected world, an immense intelligent platform with autonomous things and an increasingly natural mix between the physical world and digital worlds. A scenario that can not ignore privacy and ethics.

Gartner, which already last year had classified the top ten technological trends in three macro areas Intelligent, Digital and Mesh, resumes, for the predictions on future trends, this categorization and deepens it. In fact, for the American analysis company: “The future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere”. A future based on an intelligent digital network, characterized precisely by the three macro areas within which the technologies will revolutionize, at different levels, the business of companies and the lives of people. In particular:

  • Intelligent: artificial intelligence will be practically at the base of every existing technology and will create completely new (technological and business) opportunities;
  • Digital: digital and physical worlds will intertwine more and more to create an “immersive world”;
  • Mesh: the future will be technological and shared; technology platforms will facilitate connections between growing groups of people, businesses, devices, content and services.
Credits: Gartner

Let’s see in detail the most disruptive technological trends for each of these three areas that will drive the next few months and which will influence many sectors in a transversal way, enabling new business opportunities.

INTELLIGENT: FROM “AUTONOMOUS THINGS” TO THE PERVASIVE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

# 1 Autonomous Things: the swarm of intelligent things

In the next twelve months the objects will be exponentially based on which there will be several artificial intelligence systems such as robots, autonomous vehicles, drones, appliances and intelligent agents.
 
The framework of potential applications is almost infinite, according to Gartner’s predictions within a few years any type of service, application and object based on the IoT paradigm will integrate some form of artificial intelligence to automate human processes, decisions and/or actions also collaboratively human-to-machine and machine-to-machine.
 
Pervasiveness is what will make the difference compared to the past: it will no longer be just about having intelligent objects and systems in our world but seeing a “swarm” of intelligent things that work together. A possible scenario thanks to the convergence and integration between IoT and artificial intelligence.

Credits: Bosch

# 2 Augmented Analytics: advanced data analysis

The swarm of intelligent objects will accelerate another great trend: advanced data analysis. The concept of increased analysis derives from a new way of analyzing data that exploits a specific area of ​​artificial intelligence, in particular machine learning, to transform not only the analysis process itself but also the way in which the resulting content from the analysis it is consumed and shared.

According to the forecasts of Gartner in fact, this type of analysis will produce information and data that will be incorporated directly into the company, in particular those related to the Finance, HR, Marketing and Customer Service functions, to optimize and speed up certain decision-making processes.

This ability will automate some processes, to the point of pushing the American analysis company to predict that by 2020 over 40% of data science activities will be automated, resulting in increased productivity and wider use of data by all, not just “experts”.

Credits: Gartner

# 3 AI driven development: the pervasiveness of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence will be more closely matched to the application development process to automate test phases or even artificially self-produce pieces of code. By 2022, at least 40% of new projects will have co-developers of artificial intelligence in their team.
 
The main reason for this trend is to be found in a market that, from the scenario described by Gartner, is rapidly shifting from an approach in which scientific data professionals must collaborate with application developers to create the most optimized solutions for ‘artificial intelligence to a model in which the professional developer can operate alone using models of advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence predefined, even used as a service.

DIGITAL: A MIX INCREASINGLY EXTENDING BETWEEN THE PHYSICAL WORLD AND DIGITAL WORLDS

# 4 Digital Twin: the digital twin

By 2020, Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and terminations and potentially “digital twins” as copies of products and processes.

“Digital twin” refers to the perfect copy / digital representation of an entity, an object or an “existing” system in the real world. These projections live and interact only in the digital world.
 
Initially they entered as digital representations able to support the design or as systems able to digitally represent the user/client profiles. Already today, digital twin are models able to support and accelerate business processes, have independent analytical skills and are able to do real-time analysis.
 
Today the focus is on the digital twin in the IoT, which improve business decision making by providing information on maintenance and reliability or how a product could work more effectively.

According to Gartner’s forecasts, these systems will evolve over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize data, apply the right rules and respond effectively to business objectives to the point that you will soon hear about DTO (Digital Twin Organization), models that through data analysis they will understand how an organization makes its business model operational, how it behaves on the market, how it distributes resources and responds to changes to provide value to the customer; a digital system that will contribute to making business processes (of the physical world) more flexible, dynamic and reactive, up to “reacting automatically” to certain conditions.

# 5 Empowered edge: peripheral devices will become intelligent

Edge computing, the process of processing data close to the margins of the network (where data is produced), has taken even more shape with the IoT because data processing, collection and delivery of information are placed closer to sources thanks to a network of micro data centers, with the general objective of maintaining data traffic at local level, increasing reliability and reducing latency to make decisions more and more in real time.

In the next five years we will see a huge expansion of the edge due to two major impulses:

  • 5G: 5G mobile connectivity will provide lower latency, higher bandwidth and an increase in the number of nodes per square km, allowing many objects to connect simultaneously and perform actions, such as data analysis much faster;
  • Artificial intelligence: IoT devices located on the territory will be equipped with increasingly specialized microchips that will combine advanced features for computational computing, storage and memory, as well as data analysis and artificial intelligence software.

# 6 Immersive experience: multi-channel and multimodal experiences

The so-called conversational platforms (text and voice, able to recognize and understand natural language) are changing the way people interact with the digital world and therefore human-machine interaction. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are changing the way people perceive the digital world.

These changes in the patterns of perception and interaction lead to an increasingly immersive user experience that will develop not only on different channels but also in different ways. This multimodal experience will connect people with the digital world through hundreds of devices, from smartphones to wearable devices, from home appliances to cars.

The forecasts speak of a 70% of companies that by 2022 will experiment with immersive technologies for services aimed at the consumer, incorporating extended sensory channels to detect emotions, for example, based on facial expressions.

MESH: CONNECTIONS EVEN MORE EXTENDED

# 7 Blockchain: be prepared for time

The model of the “pure” blockchain, intended as an immutable and shared public record of transactions/actions, is still immature, little understood, difficult to scale and expand globally.

First of all, companies should start to become familiar with this technological architecture that seems to promise radical changes in entire sectors, starting with Finance. Banks and financial services companies are beginning to consider using Blockchain to simplify and optimize traditional banking operations and to launch new cryptocurrencies that will be regulated or influenced by monetary policy. The blockchain also expands into other sectors such as logistics, manufacturing where the cost of trade and contract closing times decreases and cash flow increases.

Blockchain will create 3.1 trillion dollars in terms of “corporate value” (global business volume) by 2030. Better “be prepared for time”, analysts suggest.

# 8 Smart spaces: increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems

An intelligent space is a physical or digital environment in which human beings and technology interact in increasingly open and connected ecosystems: it's like saying that more elements including people, objects, services, processes, etc., come together, move and interact in an intelligent space to create a more interactive and automated experience.
 
To better understand what we are talking about, just think of smart cities that represent the perfect example of smart space, but also digital workplace (digital workplace), smart farms and smart and connected factories are concrete examples of "spaces smart "where technology becomes an integral part of the daily lives of people, citizens, business processes.

TRUST, NEW BASE FOR PRIVACY AND ETHICS AND TRUST TOWARDS A QUANTUM FUTURE

# 9 Privacy and ethics

In the trends analysis, we also find the topic of privacy and ethics, a duty to face a future where data represent the great protagonists of change.

To understand how companies’ approach to these issues must change, we quote the words of analyst David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow: “Any discussion on privacy must be grounded in the broader topic of digital ethics and the trust of your customers, constituents and employees. While privacy and security are foundational components in building trust, trust is actually about more than just these components. Trust is the acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation. Ultimately an organisation’s position on privacy must be driven by its broader position on ethics and trust. Shifting from privacy to ethics moves the conversation beyond ‘are we compliant’ toward ‘are we doing the right thing”.
 
It seems a trivial passage but in reality we move from a concept of compliance (focused on the idea of ​​doing things according to the rules) to a concept of common good (where the idea is to do the right thing).

# 10 Quantum Computing

The last trend we present is quantum computing. These are new computational architectures that instead of relying on bits and silicon, as it has been so far in the computers we know, exploit the laws of quantum physics allowing for advanced parallel calculations.

In the not too distant future, quantum computing could become the technological layer through which to perform operations and solve complex problems such as those related to chemistry/pharmaceutical, finance, risk analysis, military and scientific research and this means that it is a good time for companies to increase their understanding on potential applications.

Among the trends proposed, AI driven development, immersive experience and augmented analytics tell the vision that is guiding some projects mainly in the areas of reference such as Sport, Retail and Finance. In general these trends represent the essence of the Digital Transformation in progress and will be the main points on which many companies in different business contexts will build new opportunities.

In the new economy, it is the experiences offered to users that represent the founding pillar of value creation and the digital dimension, in fact, makes it possible to rethink its strategy in an agile manner, forging even more solid and long-term relationships with customers, other companies and related objects, building the so-called “intelligent and digital mesh”.


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