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The Top Strategic Trends for 2018: Intelligence Digital Mesh

On November 6th, CIOs and IT experts discovered the top strategy technologies trends, which, according to Gartner, will impact most organizations in 2018. The speech was given by David Cearley, Research Vice President and Gartner Fellow, at the Barcelona Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018 tie into the Intelligent Digital Mesh.

"The intelligent digital mesh is a foundation for future digital business and ecosystems," started David Cearley. "IT leaders must factor these technology trends into their innovation strategies or risk losing ground to those that do. Future can be a scary place, but it is also rewarding and exciting". He then asked: "What is the future of technology? How real are those trends and are they meaningful for yout company?".


The first three strategic technology trends highlight the importance of INTELLIGENCE. They explore how AI and machine learning are seeping into virtually everything and represent a major battleground for technology providers over the next five years. 'In 2020, 30% of CIOS will include AI in their top 5 investment priorities. 30% of the new developed projects will have AI component delivered by joint teams of data scientists and programmers. Both experienced teams need to come together" added the Gartner analyst.

The AI Revolution – AI's been around for a long time as it actually started in the 1960s. In the 1980s came machine learning when companies started to use data to drive the behavior of systems. Then deep learning came in 2010s.

"AI techniques are evolving rapidly and organizations will need to invest significantly in skills, processes and tools to successfully exploit these techniques and build AI-enhanced systems," said Mr Cearley. According to Garnter, investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation. "Multiple constituencies including data scientists, developers and business process owners will need to work together" added the expert.

Creating systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously will be a major battleground for technology vendors through at least 2020. The ability to use AI to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience will drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2025.

Intelligent Apps and Analytics: Machine Learning & AI are everywhere – "Everything you have and build has a potential AI aspect" underlined David Cearley, who then asked a fundamental question: How do we unlock our data? AI has the potential to do it: collaboration is key and convergence will increase over time.

"Explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity and not simply as a way of replacing people. Augmented analytics is a particularly strategic growing area which uses machine learning to automate data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing for a broad range of business users, operational workers and citizen data scientists" added Mr Cearley.


Intelligent Things Intelligent things are physical things that go beyond the execution of rigid programming models to exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviors and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people. AI is driving advances for new intelligent things and delivering enhanced capability to many existing things.

"For at least the next five years, we expect that semiautonomous scenarios requiring a driver will dominate. During this time, manufacturers will test the technology more rigorously, and the nontechnology issues such as regulations, legal issues and cultural acceptance will be addressed" highlighted the Gartner analyst, before adding: "Smart things are embedded with one another. It's going to be machine, plus machine, plus machine, plus human in this collaborative sphere".


The next four trends focus on blending the DIGITAL and physical worlds to create an immersive, digitally enhanced environment.

Digital Twin This trend describes the digital representations of real world objects, which allow companies to have better insights, drive decisions and (re)invent new products. "It becomes an important control point, a security hub, etc. It is also key to deliver IoT solutions. Its value proposition? Observation, optimization and operation" stated Mr Cearley.

According to the Gartner analyst, these digital twins are linked to their real-world counterparts and are used to understand the state of the thing or system, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. "Organizations will implement digital twins simply at first, then evolve them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply the right analytics and rules, and respond effectively to business objectives" he added. City planners, digital marketers, healthcare professionals and industrial planners will all benefit from this long-term shift to the integrated digital twin world.

Cloud to the Edge Centralized vs. decentralized models. Edge computing describes a computing topology in which information processing, and content collection and delivery, are placed closer to the sources of this information. Connectivity and latency challenges, bandwidth constraints and greater functionality embedded at the edge favors distributed models. Enterprises should begin using edge design patterns in their infrastructure architectures.

"When used as complementary concepts, cloud can be the style of computing used to create a service-oriented model and a centralized control and coordination structure with edge being used as a delivery style allowing for disconnected or distributed process execution of aspects of the cloud service," said Mr Cearley.


Conversational Platforms: flipping the interaction model – "Conversational platforms will drive the next big paradigm shift in how humans interact with the digital world. The burden of translating intent shifts from user to computer" he started. Conversational platforms have reached a tipping point in terms of understanding language and basic user intent, but they still fall short… The challenge that conversational platforms face is that users must communicate in a very structured way, and this is often a frustrating experience. "A primary differentiator among conversational platforms will be the robustness of their conversational models and the application programming interface and event models used to access, invoke and orchestrate third-party services to deliver complex outcomes" said David Cearley.

Immersive Experience: an expanding spectrum of virtual perceptions – "There has been a change in how we access and control services and there are all moving towards this more immersive experience" highlighted the analyst. The virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) market is currently adolescent and fragmented. Interest is high, resulting in many novelty VR applications that deliver little real business value outside of advanced entertainment, such as video games and 360-degree spherical videos. "To drive real tangible business benefit, businesses must examine specific real-life scenarios where VR and AR can be applied to make employees more productive and enhance the design, training and visualization processes" added Mr Cearley.

Concerning mixed reality, it exists along a spectrum and includes head-mounted displays for augmented or virtual reality as well as smartphone and tablet-based AR and the use of environmental sensors. It represents the span of how people perceive and interact with the digital world.


The last three refer to exploiting connections between an expanding set of people and businesses, as well as devices, content and services to deliver digital business outcomes. MESH is therefore all about connections and it drives business models through these connections. David Cearley underlined: "We are all together in this new digital world".

Blockchain The technology has now evolved from a digital currency infrastructure into a platform for digital transformation. Blockchain therefore offers a radical departure from the current centralized transaction and record-keeping mechanisms. "It can also serve as a foundation of disruptive digital business for both established enterprises and startups" added the Gartner analyst. In the first years of blockchain, people focused on the financial services industry, but blockchain has many potential applications, including government, healthcare, manufacturing, media distribution, identity verification, title registry and supply chain. Although it will undoubtedly create disruption, many of the associated technologies are still immature for the next two to three years.

Event Driven: forces driving adoption of event driven IT – "80% of new business ecosystems will require support for event processing in 2022" stated David Cearley.  Central to digital business is the idea that the business is always sensing and ready to exploit new digital business moments.

Business events could be anything that is noted digitally, reflecting the discovery of notable states or state changes, for example: completion of a purchase order, or an aircraft landing. With the use of event brokers, IoT, cloud computing, blockchain, in-memory data management and AI, business events can be detected faster and analyzed in greater detail. But technology alone without cultural and leadership change does not deliver the full value of the event-driven model. Digital business drives the need for IT leaders, planners and architects to embrace event thinking.

Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust: constant, near-realtime and dynamic "All roads point to cybersecurity. In 2020, 25% of new digital business initiatives will adopt a CARTA strategic approach, up from less than 5% in 2017" underlined David. As a matter of fact, to securely enable digital business initiatives in a world of advanced, targeted attacks, security and risk management leaders must adopt a continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment (CARTA) approach. It allows real-time, risk and trust-based decision making with adaptive responses.

Security infrastructure must be adaptive everywhere, to embrace the opportunity — and manage the risks — that comes delivering security that moves at the speed of digital business. To overcome the barriers between security teams and application teams, the Gartner analyst recommend a more collaborative, largely transparent to developers, and which preserves the teamwork, agility and speed of DevOps and agile development environments, creating what is being called "DevSecOps."


"Intelligence Digital Mesh is driving the future" added David Cearley, before concluding: "The interconnections of strategic technology trends create an exponential increase in market disruption and digital business opportunities".


Alexandre Keilmann