In a way, 2018 has been like the TV series of Ninja Warrior for emerging technologies with AI, automation, data and blockchain the key competitors trying to surmount the many obstacles and challenges in their way. And, like the programme, so far these technologies have played hard and achieved much, but failed to win the big cash prize and become the overall winner.
So, with 2019 looming, which of these will become the overall champion? In fact, will there be an overall champion? Here are our predictions for 2019:
AI, stealth adoption
Artificial intelligence will be key – but only if companies can tame this data athlete, and understand how to apply it within the confines of the business. With Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights Survey anticipating that 60 percent of organizations will have an enterprise-wide strategy for AI in 2019, we expect a lot more companies to look for practical ways to bring AI into the business; and a key path will be through having AI embedded into their applications. Why?
In 2019, it’s estimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Already, companies are challenged when it comes to being able to harness and apply that data intelligently to inform processes and get the insights needed to work more quickly, efficiently and flexibly.
Not only will this give them a way of bringing AI to the masses through means they already feel comfortable with rather than fearing the ‘rise of the robots’, it will also mean that eventually, it’ll be saturated into the infrastructure and become prevalent in all of a business’ systems.
As a result, we’re already seeing applications change before our very eyes. Conventional back office applications are becoming legacy. They’re being reinvented with innovative front ends and aggressive commercial automation. Looking ahead, transformation is only going to become more widespread.
Doubling down on productivity
One of the key business drivers for AI adoption is its immense power to increase human productivity and business efficiency. A recent Oracle survey of international senior decision makers showed 42 percent are already looking to AI technology to improve efficiency within their organization. And, with ongoing improvements to its cognitive AI capabilities, those gains are only going to get bigger.
In fact, we’ve already seen customers such as Spanish Football Club RCD Espanyol turn to AI to increase its finances’ team’s productivity levels by 20 percent - leaning on it to help make business decisions that don’t need human input.
Looking ahead, we predict that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI and augmented experiences could be as high as 50 percent compared to today’s operations. That’s nothing short of transformational.
‘Autonomous’ will move (data) mountains not just cars
Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90 percent of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset, with analytics becoming an essential competency. As the levels of data currently at hand are too much for humans to handle, a new approach is needed. In fact, it’s critical because businesses are starting to realize they need to be better handling their data if they want to really capitalize on it and execute on AI or IoT investments.
What if the complex data management systems that turn data to insight could be made as self-driving, self-repairing and self-securing. What if it could be made as easy as the concept of the self-driving car?
Oracle has already taken the next step in extreme automation with the Oracle Autonomous Database and, looking forward, we expect a huge proportion of businesses to explore similar capabilities for every aspect of data management.
In fact, we believe automation will start to permeate throughout business, with 70% of IT functions completely automated, enabling companies to refocus teams from the billions of work hours spent performing routine and even mundane IT tasks each year and instead on innovation and business development. As a case in point, our customer QMP Health has automated its infrastructure to tune and manage itself with no downtime, with means faster response times and quicker decisions for the organization – and its patients.
Many security tasks, meanwhile, will have to be automated, given the number of security events are predicted to increase 100x. McAfee’s 2019 Cloud Adoption and Risk Report showed the average organization will find only 1 out of 100 million events to be a threat, but with the volume so high, finding the needle in the haystack will be impossible without automation.
Furthermore, customer experience and automation will go hand-n-hand, with 70 percent of customer interactions automated and AI-enabled chatbots ushering in a new era of experiences. Already today, 89% of people use voice assistants for customer service, and 69% of enterprise customer service functions use chatbots for easy, frictionless, anywhere, anytime engagement. Increasingly, this will move from being a ‘nice to have’ to becoming a basic customer expectation across nearly all markets. For that reason, we predict 85% of all interactions will be automated.
Blockchain becomes cornerstone of trust
Finally, from being the new kid on the block, distrusted for its association with bitcoin, blockchain will not only start to become more commonplace in business, it will also become the king of transparency and trust in 2019. This comes from the realization that it can be used to do far more than validate monetary transactions.
Already, we’re seeing the technology being used to certify the ethical production of extra virgin olive oil, for tracking solar energy usage and to bring a single source of truth into the documentation processes underpinning the global shipping industry. In 2019, we’ll see it being used in even more broader contexts; from verifying the authenticity of precious stones, to tracking the source of food contaminations and on to confirming drugs are produced in accordance with stringent industry regulations.
It will also, like AI, creep into day to day business as it too becomes integrated into business applications, and as they say, out of sight is out of mind.
So, which will win? All will fare well, and 2019 will definitely be the year when we see some of the industry’s biggest buzzwords go from hype to fulfilment, but really they will only prove their worth if they gain true traction in the market. Gone are the days where AI or blockchain are seen as a separate entities within the infrastructure and, instead, they will be added into applications for organizations to realize the real benefit.
So what they need a solid partner, one that can bring out their strengths and accelerate their value. And in the context of our emerging tech Ninja Warriors, their coach would equate to completely integrated cloud that unifies control, security and innovation in one place enabling organizations to run their operations in the cloud, regardless of workload or future trends beyond 2019, offering them the opportunity to deliver the products and services that keep them agile and competitive.
John Abel is VP of Cloud and Innovation at Oracle
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