Digital transformation 2018: Act on change or get left behind

21 Dec 2017

How prepared are you for digital transformation? Image: Sasils/Shutterstock

AI, cloud computing and IoT – how will technological advances mould the coming year?

As organisations face into a new year of digital transformation, Dell has announced its predictions for how exciting new advances will aid the progress of Irish business and society at large.

Aisling Keegan, vice-president and commercial general manager of Dell EMC Ireland, said: “Emerging technologies have the potential to solve some of the intractable problems faced by humanity, and offer the opportunity to increase productivity for business.

“To help organisations throughout Ireland prepare for the digital transformation happening around, we’ve compiled our predications to explore what innovations will come to the fore in 2018.”

“From the explosion in the number of connected devices, the widespread adoption of AI, the journey towards the ‘mega cloud’ and the enhancement of cybersecurity technologies, 2018 will be a year of epic transformation. Organisations must act on this change or be left behind.”

So, what can we expect from the new year?

Businesses will harness the power of AI

Over the next few years, AI will change the way teams spend their time acting on data, not just in terms of curating it. Data-driven ‘thinking tasks’ will be carried out for companies, significantly reducing the time they spend scoping, debating, scenario planning and testing every new innovation. Expect to see a reduction in bottlenecks.

The IQ of Things

IoT-enhanced cities, organisations, homes and vehicles will become even more prevalent in 2018, according to Dell’s outlook. “With the cost of processing power decreasing and a connected node approaching $0, soon we’ll have 100bn connected devices and, after that, a trillion. Digital transformation will affect not just business, but the very fabric of society itself.

“The magnitude of all that data, combined processing power with the power of AI will help machines better orchestrate our physical and human resources.”

According to Dell, firms will evolve into “digital conductors” of the technology and environments surrounding them.

AR will become more popular

Dell reckons the mainstream adoption of AR will begin this year, as its commercial viability becomes more evident. “For instance, teams of construction workers, architects and engineers are using AR headsets to visualise new builds, coordinate efforts based on a single view of a development and train on-the-job labourers when a technician can’t be on site that day.”

Customer experience has never been more important

The Dell Digital Transformation Index shows that 45pc of leaders in mid-to-large organisations believe they could be obsolete within five years, and 78pc see start-ups as a threat to their business.

Putting customer experience first has never been more important. With predictive analytics, machine learning (ML) and AI at the forefront, companies can better understand and serve customers with the aid of these nifty new tools.

Bias-checking tools will be introduced

Over the next decade, emerging technologies such as VR and AI will help people to find and act on information without interference from emotions or external prejudice, while empowering them to exercise human judgement where appropriate. In the short term, Dell predicts we will see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias.

Meanwhile, VR will increasingly be used as an interview tool to ensure opportunities are awarded on merit alone, eg by masking a prospective employee’s true identity with an avatar.

E-sports will surge in popularity

2018 will bring increasingly vast numbers of players sitting behind screens or wearing VR headsets to battle it out in a high-definition, computer-generated universe. As hundreds of millions of players and viewers tune in, e-sports will go mainstream.

The advent of the ‘mega cloud’

In 2018, businesses are overwhelmingly moving toward a multi-cloud approach, taking advantage of the value of all models, from public to private, hosted, managed and SaaS.

However, as more applications and workloads move into various clouds, the proliferation of cloud silos will become an inevitability, throttling the organisation’s ability to fully reap the benefits of data analytics and AI initiatives. This may also result in applications and data landing in the wrong cloud, leading to poor outcomes.

As a next step in cloud evolution, businesses will see the emergence of the ‘mega cloud’, which will weave together multiple private and public clouds to behave as a coherent, holistic system. The mega cloud will offer a federated, intelligent view of an entire IT environment.

Creating this system will be an involved process. “To make the mega cloud possible, we will need to create multi-cloud innovations in networking (to move data between clouds), storage (to place data in the right cloud), compute (to utilise the best processing and acceleration for the workloads), orchestration (to link networking, storage and compute together across clouds) and, as a new opportunity, customers will have to incorporate AI and ML to bring automation and insight to a new level from this next-generation IT environment.”

Details matter in this era of digital transformation

In this increasingly interconnected world, our reliance on third parties has never been greater. The ripples of chaos spread further and faster now that technology connects us in previously unimaginable ways.

Due to our increasingly interwoven relationship with machines, small, subtle failures can lead to major issues.

Next year is slated to be a year of action for multinational corporations, further inspired by the onslaught of new regulations such as GDPR, affecting anyone dealing with EU data subjects. Prioritising the implementation of cybersecurity tools and technologies to effectively protect data and prevent threats will be a growing imperative.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects