Digital business: Technology trends to watch out for in 2018

7 Feb 2018

Changing digital workspaces, ho! Image: Sunny studio/Shutterstock

Stephen Kelly from Dimension Data Ireland offers his view on the trends transforming the digital workplace this year.

In 2018, we see a great deal of potential for a range of exciting new technologies that will support digital business. However, for any of them to succeed, companies will need to invest in the correct digital architectures to support their plans.

In the next 12 months, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) will begin to work together, offering more complementary outcomes for businesses that invest in them.

AR, in particular, is already starting to reap early rewards in the world of business. The aviation industry was perhaps the earliest to adopt this type of technology, using a mix of VR and AR in training exercises for pilots. Flight simulators have now been around for some time, and the technology is gradually becoming more widely adopted by other industries, such as retail and manufacturing.

We’re also seeing a boom in wireless technologies, and these will help support the expansion of the internet of things (IoT). Blockchain also has the potential to bring real value to organisations that use IoT, by providing a method for firms to securely collect information from thousands of sensors.

Digital workspaces

As we move into 2018, the digital workplace will become more of a reality. We recently found, through the Dimension Data Digital Workplace Report 2017, that 25pc of organisations are already investing in workspace analytics tools, AR and micro-learning or training. In fact, just 12pc of enterprises have yet to make physical changes to their office environment in order to embrace digital transformation in the workplace.

In terms of enhancing well-established technology, I predict that web-based, real-time communications will become significantly easier, replacing the need for dedicated desktop programs.

Newer trends that are already emerging, yet less pronounced, include the use of voice-enabled virtual assistants around the office. These tools, which are increasingly present in our homes, will help employees save time, and focus more of their energies on tasks that matter. We also expect to see some exciting evolutions in the way office space is used, with IoT-enabled offices providing workers with a more productive environment, and beacon-enabled stores giving shoppers a more personalised experience. By taking a different approach to office space, organisations can also reduce some of the costs associated with physical workspaces, potentially opening up new revenue streams – with more creative use of space.

Experimentation with BYOA (bring your own app) – where users choose the tools they want to use rather than conform to IT-mandated tools – is also set to feature heavily in 2018. This will introduce a range of challenges and issues around security, as well as information management, but will offer benefits to companies that have a well-thought-out strategy.

‘Businesses will realise that the most important benefit of a new technology will simply be getting it to work, rather than focusing on return on investment or total cost of ownership’

Stephen Kelly, country manager, Dimension Data Ireland

Stephen Kelly, country manager, Dimension Data Ireland. Image: Finn Partners

How will this impact digital infrastructure?

Businesses in every industry are increasingly aware of the threat (perhaps, more importantly, the opportunity) posed by digital disruption. As a result, in 2018 we can expect to see incumbent companies shoring up their digital infrastructure so they are leaner, more flexible and better placed to adapt to an unpredictable market. We expect businesses will increasingly focus on speed of deployment over cost. They will realise that the most important benefit of a new technology will simply be getting it to work, rather than focusing on return on investment or total cost of ownership.

Companies that focus on innovation and differentiation will find it easiest to adapt to this market and we expect to see developers using container technology heavily. We also expect more firms to utilise APIs to add value to their products. In fact, container technology is growing at a rate of 40pc year on year, according to 451 Research.

Another related change will be a shift in focus from technology architectures to service architectures, as firms attempt to standardise the way they use multiple different services. We will also see an evolution of big data, as firms seek to better manage the information they collect.

As we move into 2018, organisations must reconsider their digital workspaces and infrastructure, ensuring that they are both fit for purpose and future-proof. Only then will they be able to take advantage of the many potential benefits of the digital era and stay ahead of the curve.

By Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly is Dimension Data Ireland’s country manager, a role he took on in 2015. Before joining Dimension Data, Kelly worked for IBM Ireland for 14 years, running its Systems Group for the final three years, having started his career in Siemens Nixdorf-Fujitsu Siemens. He studied at Dublin Institute of Technology and has a keen interest in science, technology and sports.