A year has come and gone. It is time to take out the crystal ball and make some predictions for 2016. Many have done this over the past weeks leading up to the new year. Gartner, IDC, Juniper Research and many more have shared what they believe 2016 has in store for us with regards to technology trends and digital transformation. They have done this so well that it would be futile for me to create yet another list of trends that I believe will shape the year ahead. Instead, I will highlight some of the common predictions and maybe add one or two of my own.
Digital Transformation in the boardroom.
Anything related to technology and digital does not get surrendered to the IT department anymore. IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, two-thirds of CEOs of global 2000 enterprises will have prioritized digital transformation to the centre of their corporate strategy. Many examples of tech and traditional companies that have used digital capabilities to disrupt and transform business models and industries (e.g. Uber, Starbucks) have made executives realize that digitization is inevitable to all processes, in all corporations, in all industries.
Internet of Things (IoT).
Although IoT is not new, it appears that the analyst and research groups agree that 2016 will further define and accelerate a world where people, processes, data and things get connected. Juniper Research predicts the accelerated migration of wearable technologies from just cool consumer gadgets to mission-critical enterprise applications. Forty per cent of all connected devices will be sensors, and the aggregated data that all connected things produce will be rapidly converted into actionable insight that will further transform processes, experiences and business outcomes.
Digital Infrastructure: IoT Platforms.
Gartner says that “any enterprise embracing the IoT will need to develop an IoT platform strategy, but incomplete competing vendor approaches will make standardization difficult through 2018”. Companies like Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Google and many more are quickly defining, developing and launching their digital platforms to compete over this vastly growing marketplace. A digital vision and strategy without a digital foundation and supportive technology infrastructure will not realize the potential the future holds. This is going to be a pivotal and defining year for the companies that lead with digital transformation.
Machine Learning and Autonomous things.
Gartner foresees that hardware- or software-based machines will learn for themselves (more and faster) all the features in their environment in which they operate to improve processes, deliver more personalized and customized services and consequently help us define new markets and business models. From Apple’s Siri to autonomous cars, real-life demonstrations and deployments (e.g. driverless cars in Stratford Ontario) will push the capabilities of self-learning and autonomous things to acceptable and mainstream innovations.
Ambient User Experiences.
The user will take center stage at the transformation. The discussion will shift from “apps” to “experiences.” The experience seamlessly flows across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels blending physical, virtual and electronic environments as the user moves from one place to another. Omni-channel, multi-mode and digital design in physical spaces will shape how we consume services, content and interact with one another. Those that produce products and services but can’t re-imagine how they’d be consumed and experienced may miss the boat and be seriously challenged for the future. Juniper Research calls 2016 a watershed year for Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence.
Probably the biggest shifts, focus and developments will take place in the field of advanced digital security. As more people, processes, data and things get connected, and as more rely on digital capabilities to transform and redefine their business, the more critical it will be to secure the digital infrastructure, software and platforms, connected things and the corresponding processes and business outcomes in an integrated, scalable and sustainable manner. We are exposed and vulnerable if security does not get elevated to the top priorities in the boardroom, implemented in an holistic manner and supported by trusted companies that have an architecture and systems view of the possibilities ahead of us.
Like IDC, Gartner and Juniper Research, I am also excited to see the rapid evolution of 3D printing. From printing images on the foam of my latte, to printing decorative and tasty food items, to the construction of critical infrastructure such as bridges, 3D Printing will not only dazzle all of us but open our eyes to the possibilities of this rapidly emerging technology. Rather than shipping goods across the world, we will send design files and fabricate products from the comfort of our homes. Like Uber awoke the taxi-industry, 3D printing will start to transform manufacturing, supply chain and transportation.
In addition to these trends, analysts and research groups naturally also continue to see growth and game changing evolution of cloud, robots, mobile, crowd-(sharing, funding, invention, creation), 5G, wearables and so forth in 2016.
Despite the maturing of enabling digital capabilities, and the demonstration of real-life examples where digital transformation is having a profound impact on business outcomes (and consequently even further jeopardize established business models and enterprises), we still will see lots of inflated expectations and hype. We continue to have to wrestle through the confusion and contradictions and, at times maybe, take a leap of faith. Standing by is not an option. I suspect that 2016 will be the turning point of all this. Entering 2017, Digital Transformation and the IoT will be table stakes and mainstream. There is no avoiding it.
Amazing Innovation – Cisco Innovation Centre, Toronto.
This is my own prediction, and a little closer to home. The January launch of the Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto is the beginning of an onslaught of amazing inspiration, innovation and investment in digital transformation and the IoT. Our Innovation hub will produce new partnerships and ample relevant business solutions that help improve, enable and define the business of our customers, Canadian governments and enterprises. I predict that Cisco Canada will take a leading global role in innovating the IoT and digital impact.
Happy New Year
Amazing things are happening. This is going to be an exciting year. I wish everyone tonnes of inspiration and the courage to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us. We only gain and benefit from the digital promise if we stop watching from the sidelines.
It’s time to act, together.
If you have a prediction for 2016, share it below.