Time was when most business leaders wouldn’t take much notice of the obligatory end-of-year technology predictions unless, of course, they worked at a tech company. This week the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) has revealed what it reckons are the top 10 technology trends that hold “extensive disruptive potential” predicted to reach adoption in 2018.
Even a cursory glance over the list confirms, though, why every business leader should now be taking an interest in horizon scanning since many of the technologies are likely to play an important part in the lives of their organisations.
They include cyber-security and artificial intelligence, deep learning, robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), blockchain, digital currencies and others which are already having a huge impact on the world of business and will continue to do so.
For instance, even if you’ve never heard of blockchain before, chances are you will in 2018. The distributed ledger technology was introduced in the financial sector but is now popping up in industries such as energy and is even being used to control the flightpaths of autonomous flying taxis. IEEE-CS predicts increased expansion of companies delivering blockchain products as well as “IT heavyweights” entering the market and consolidating. Blockchain platforms will, undoubtedly, help create new markets and new business models.
Meanwhile, leaders ignore cyber-security at their peril. As IEEE-CS points out, it is becoming essential to everyday life and business but is “increasingly hard to manage”. Indeed, there needs to be far greater leadership demonstrated in this area from the top tier who can be guilty of not facing up to it and offloading responsibility to IT.
Interestingly, “ethics, laws and policies for privacy, security and liability” also enters the list. With the increasing march of AI and robotics, IEEE-CS warns that technology has moved beyond society’s ability to control it easily.IEEE-CS reminds us that while robotics research has been undertaken for several decades its adoption hasn’t flourished. But the society notes that the past few years have seen increased market availability of consumer robots, as well as more sophisticated industrial and military robots. It predicts that this will trigger wider adoption of robotics in the medical space for caregiving and other healthcare uses as well as the further evolution of ethics. Once again, new companies, sectors and markets will emerge.
We sit at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which brings opportunities, threats and challenges that need to be confronted and dealt with. Digital transformation and disruption is transforming companies and markets. Whatever industry you are in, the role technology plays will become more central. It will become more embedded into the fabric of the organisation. And, in some cases, it will be the reason why the organisation exists in the first place.
Hence the successful leaders will be the ones who read the technology predictions and assimilate them rather than leave it to IT to pick out what is most relevant and important. Somewhere in there could just lie the inspiration, direction and impetus for the future of your organisation.
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