At the annual Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida this week, over 8000 technology leaders gathered to get analyst predictions on where we are heading. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart things were key analytics themes for a savvy digital future. The overall top three themes this year were intelligent, digital, and mesh.
For a fantastic free overview, check out the following openly published article, “Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017” and linked resources.
It is a must-read for all technology pros.
Last week I shared an article and webinar regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution aka Digital Transformation. Make no mistake, it is happening… Gartner opened the keynote this year with the digital business message again. Next week I am headed to IBM World of Watson (#IBMWoW) and will fill you in on the latest cognitive intelligence news. I expect to hear similar messages but plan to dig in deeper from a technical perspective.
Digital business is an overarching concept that refers to the blending of physical and virtual worlds. As digital technologies transform, new business models, industries, markets and organizations emerge. Think about the impact Uber had on the taxi cab business or crowd funding on small business lending. Expect much more of that to happen.
Gartner’s keynote speakers walked through the illustration below with examples of digitally engaging customers, interacting with ecosystems, proactively sensing with intelligent things, running with IT systems and deciding with intelligence.
Intelligence powered by artificial intelligence algorithms is the center of the digital universe. Advanced analytics, machine learning-powered, autonomous business processes, intelligent things (IoT), and conversational “bot” interfaces will be mega-hot in 2017.
This year a concept of “digital twins” was also shared along with a forecast. Gartner analysts predict that within three to five years, billions of things will be represented digitally via dynamic software models of a physical thing or system – the digital twin.
The digital twin evolution will require societal and cultural change.
Other interesting tid bits in the keynote were the revealing stats presented on who has already moved to the cloud and a cost discussion.
- 1% of manufacturing
- 4% of planning
- 6% of financial systems
- 10% of execution
- 17% of procurement
- 20% of human capital management
- 27% of marketing
- 29% of digital commerce
- 49% of sales
Finally someone said it! In the Gartner keynote leading analysts shared that in this brave new digital world we won’t know how much projects are going to cost. I mentioned the challenge of cloud cost estimating in a recent Monte Carlo Simulation article. I also told peers at an industry analyst event this past summer surprise cloud bills were coming. (Ha! I knew it. The smartest people I know already struggle with cloud estimating.)
While the barriers to starting a business have vastly eased in a digitally connected cloud world, the keynote left me uneasy thinking about what will happen to smaller players and start ups that keep tech moving forward, fun and interesting. Thriving in a digital transformation alluded to a winner take all world.
Winners in the digital era will have the most data for the best intelligence to make an automated real-time decision. They will have the largest ecosystems of partners and vendors. They will tout the biggest platforms and most things. They will have the most money. They will be too powerful.
In investment forums, I saw a surprising thread several months ago with financial portfolio analysts “guessing” who might buy SAP in a digital supremacy scene. A recent article by the Boston Globe further reiterates what a digital world dominated by the Big Five — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — might mean.
Historically we have seen mega-vendors that get too big behave badly. From bullying partners, customers and employees to getting complacent and losing an inventive culture, bigger is not always better. I am hopeful the World Economic Forum and global leaders will ease this transition to protect society, help us evolve, and allow wonderful technological advances improve our human experience.
The digital transformation is a rare, beautiful, huge blue ocean opportunity to totally reinvent!