Innovation that occurs during challenging times is often when the most significant leaps forward happen. Digital transformation and technology adoption have continued to accelerate during the past two years, altering the fabric of how people work and live. From skyrocketing app usage and telehealth adoption to enabling hybrid work and the continued progression of the metaverse, many emerging innovations currently being researched or in development will serve to expand on these new capabilities.
While the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, so does the need to act sustainably and inclusively. From solutions that use less energy and provide always-on connections to eliminating bias and securing data and devices, here are five predictions for emerging technologies and how they will impact the next few years of innovation and experience.
Prediction: Data deluge, data gravity, and the need for predictive insights will propel the Edge towards whole new application development and experience paradigms.
Modern enterprises are defined by the business applications they create, connect to and use. The pandemic has shown that enterprise companies can sustain and grow their businesses, embracing direct connections via application-service to application-service or endpoint to endpoint. In effect, applications, whether they are servicing end-user customers or are business-to-business focused or even machine-to-machine connections, will become the boundary of the enterprise. The business interactions that happen across all of these different types of applications will create an ever-expanding deluge of data. Every aspect of every interaction with and across enterprise apps will generate additional data to provide predictive insights. With predictive insights, the data will likely gravitate to a central data store for some use cases. However, other use cases will require pre-processing of some data at the Edge, including machine learning and other capabilities.
Being able to make sense of this flow of data leads to my second prediction.
Prediction: Ethical, responsible, and explainable AI - from design and development to deployment - will become a top priority for organizations and governments worldwide if we are genuinely interested in an inclusive future for all.
The extreme quantity of data being generated has already exceeded human scale but still needs to be processed "intelligently" and, in some cases, in near real-time. This scenario is where machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) will come into their own. If instant insights are the future, then ML and AI will help us produce these insights. The challenge is that data has ownership, sovereignty, privacy, and compliance issues associated with it that need to be taken into account as it is used to produce insights. And if the AI being used to produce instant insights has inherent biases built-in, then these insights are inherently flawed. This leads to the need for ethical, responsible, and explainable AI. The AI needs to be transparent, so everyone using the system understands how the insights have been produced and that transparency must be present in all aspects of the AI lifecycle – its design, development, and deployment. Transparency, inclusive design, and diverse teams are required to build a future state that more accurately represents everyone.
Prediction: The future of innovation and business is tied to unlocking the power of data in an application-driven world created with a secure, observable, and API-first mindset.
The boundary of the enterprise will be defined by its applications, its data, and the value derived from them. In the future, enterprise data will be ingested, observed, and intelligently correlated and augmented in ways that account for all the constraints imposed upon it, including ownership, sovereignty, privacy, and compliance, allowing the use of data in ways that will help create innovative solutions. Beyond enabling contextual business insights to be generated from the data, teams will be able to better automate many complex actions, ultimately getting to automated self-healing actions that help remove friction from future business processes. To achieve this future state, applications must be created with an automated, observable, and API-first mindset with seamless security embedded from development to run-time and the ability to identify, inspect, and manage APIs regardless of provider or source.
Prediction: Only through the delivery of predictive and seamless Internet access will the metaverse be realized, and access to technology and innovation become ubiquitous.
There is no doubt that the trend for untethered connectivity and communications will continue. The sheer convenience of using devices wirelessly is obvious to everyone, whether nomadic or mobile.
This always-on internet connectivity will further help alleviate social and economic disparity through more equitable access to the modern economy, especially in non-metropolitan areas, helping create jobs for everyone. But this also means that if wireless connectivity is lost or interrupted, activities must not come to a grinding halt. The future needs ubiquitous, reliable, always-on internet connectivity at low price points. A future that includes seamless internet services requires the heterogeneity of access – meaning AI-augmented and seamless connectivity between every cellular and WiFi generation and the upcoming LEO satellite constellations and beyond.
Prediction: Quantum computing, communications, and security will power a faster, more secure future that demands a reinvention of how systems work and communicate via an evolved Internet with even lower latency and higher bandwidth.
Quantum computing and security will interconnect very differently than classical communications networks, which stream bits and bytes to provide voice and data information. Quantum technology is fundamentally based on an unexplained phenomenon in quantum physics - the entanglement between particles that enables them to share states. In the case of quantum networking, this phenomenon can be used to share or transmit information. The prospect of joining sets of smaller quantum computers together to make a very large quantum computer is enticing. Quantum networking could enable a new type of secure connection between digital devices, making them impenetrable to hacks. As this type of foolproof security becomes achievable with quantum networking, it could lead to better fraud protection for transactions. In addition, this higher quality of secure connectivity may also be able to protect voice and data communications from any interference or snooping. All of these possibilities would re-shape the internet we know and use today.