Hans van Grieken, EMEA technology research and insights leader for Deloitte.
In the coming years, companies will transform themselves into artificial intelligence (AI)-fuelled organisations as they deploy AI in their core business.
This is according to the latest technology trends report (Tech Trends 2019: Beyond the digital frontier) by Deloitte, which outlines key emerging trends that will reshape business and government over the next 18 to 24 months.
The tenth anniversary publication of the Deloitte tech report identifies six trends giving rise to new operating models, redefining the nature of work and changing IT’s relationship with business.
Speaking at the tech trends launch event yesterday, Hans van Grieken, EMEA technology research and insights leader for Deloitte, noted AI is not a new topic but the firm has tried to determine whether companies use it in a supporting role, or in the core of what they do.
“AI-fuelled organisations that we have identified have invested a lot in taking a core process or core part of the business and bringing in the AI capabilities as a core capability.”
The end-goal of an AI-fuelled organisation, according to Deloitte, is one in which humans and machines work together within designed digital systems to harness data-driven insights.
Van Grieken explained that becoming an AI-fuelled organisation also means companies have to move to the public cloud and a lot of firms, particularly in SA, find that to be a real challenge.
“There’s a tremendous growth of what you could call cloud-native approaches to AI, which means you would be doing business with the likes of AWS [Amazon Web Services] or Google. A lot of the AI components you want to use are already available in the cloud environment in which you want to operate.”
Deloitte predicts that in 2019, among companies that adopt AI technology, 70% will obtain AI capabilities through cloud-based enterprise software, and 65% will create AI applications using cloud-based development services.
According to Deloitte, the next stage in the evolution of cloud computing has been reached, and it is the ‘NoOps in a serverless world’ environment.
Serverless computing is an umbrella term for a spectrum of cloud-based options available to organisations wishing to get out of managing servers, the global consulting firm says.
“Cloud providers are continuing to climb the stack; rather than simply providing everything from the ‘hypervisor on down’, they are now, through their own focus on hyper-automation, taking on many core systems administration tasks, including patching, backup and database management, among others.”
Van Grieken continued to say clients’ concerns in regards to the big move to the public cloud include the implementation challenge, shortage of people who understand interaction between clouds, and the issue of cost.
This is the same for SA, he notes, where the question that is top of mind is: “Is it going to be cheaper?” In some cases it is, he stated.
“Most of the companies that we have asked say they want to go to public cloud because it is a catalyst for innovation. In that cloud, there is other innovative cloud services they can easily connect to, it will improve speed and time to market performance, and a very important one is scalability.”
Van Grieken told the audience that 5G is one of the major technologies that must be on radar screens this year onwards.
Deloitte’s view on 5G is that 2019 will be the year in which the next-generation network technology driver scale will play out on the back of successful trials in 2018. The firm expects 25 operators globally to launch party services, with another 26 to launch commercial services in 2020.
It also predicts that by the end of 2020, 5G handsets will represent up to 1% of the global handsets that will be sold. “By 2020, we expect to see 5G handset sales reach a tipping point where the price of the handset starts to become really attractive and we see a lot of customers signing up for party services.
“By 2021, we really start to see the ecosystem come to life, but all these players are trying to offer new and innovative services, smart transport and smart cities on the back of lower latency and high throughput.”
Van Grieken stated: “5G is among a number of new technologies that are revolutionising the way in which technology interacts and communicates.”
In SA, mobile data-only network operator, Rain, became the first to announce it has launched a 5G commercial network in the country, in partnership with Huawei.
In November 2018, Rain demonstrated its 5G capabilities in Cape Town, using Nokia equipment, and told ITWeb it had plans for a commercial 5G service to be live in early 2019.
Rain has since revealed that full commercial rollout is only planned for mid-2019 but that its 5G network is already live in Johannesburg.
Deloitte has revealed intelligent interfaces as its number four top tech trend, which Van Grieken noted involves seeing different ways in which people interact with emerging machines.
“This is the way people interact with technology through ever-more intelligent interfaces that combine the latest in human-centred design techniques with leading-edge technologies such as computer vision, conversational voice, auditory analytics, augmented reality and virtual reality.”
‘Beyond marketing’ has been named as the fifth tech trend, and Deloitte says this is focused on delivering highly personalised, contextualised experiences that today’s customers expect.
This, says the firm, is enabled by a new generation of marketing tools and techniques focused on personalised, contextual and dynamic experiences. CIOs and chief marketing officers can illuminate and engage customer needs and desires most effectively.
The last tech trend on Deloitte’s radar is DevSecOps and the cyber imperative.
According to the firm, DevSecOps fundamentally transforms cyber, security, privacy and risk management from being compliance-based activities, into essential framing mindsets across the product journey.