It's that time of year again.
All over the world, experts, thought leaders, and pundits are weighing in with their predictions for 2018. We have already discussed some of Fifth Quadrants predictions relating to the year in Customer Experience (CX), and some of the technology that will shape it. To add to this, U.S based cloud computing company Nutanix (NASDAQ:NTNX) has shared some of its predictions for the year.
IoT – beyond the buzzword into AI and Machine Learning
The concept of an Internet of Things (IoT), has been around since as early as the 1980s when students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh connected a Coca-Cola vending machine to the internet. By 1999, radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology was being widely used to "tag" devices and in the early 2000s people started to use the term IoT to describe any networked physical device.
At its best, IoT technology can save lives, as in the case of a networked car that can potentially sense and prevent collisions. At the other end of the scale, you have the connected toaster. Proof that just because we can connect everything, doesn't mean we should.
Although the IoT space is growing, it's safe to say it hasn't really taken off yet. Sure, you may have a Fitbit, home assistant or event IoT lighting, but it has yet to reach the point of total ubiquity. People have been incorrectly predicting The Year of IoT since 2013, but it hasn’t happened. One reason is a question of bandwidth – at least in Australia, you might think twice about connecting everything when you remember that the country is ranked 55th for internet speeds (just behind Kazakhstan. Ouch). But is now the time for IoT to really shine?
"After all the hype, 2018 is the year we’ll see IoT (finally) come to fruition," Systems Engineering Director at Nutanix Carlo Nizeti told Fifth Quadrant. " To date, we’ve seen plenty of the groundwork being laid – heavy investment in data analytics for example – but this year we’ll really start to see that marry with AI and machine learning to produce some real IoT results."
Nizeti sees the ménage à trois of IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning as having a significant impact on personalisation this year.
"We already get the push notifications, suggestions on what to eat when you go in or near a café for example, but with machine learning and AI the accuracy and understanding of what we as consumers want," he says.
Although Nizeti notes that there are privacy concerns attached to this, he says that people need to be aware of the communication of personal information and the inevitable demise of privacy. A total lack privacy is a double-edged sword when it comes to safety. Having the government and corporations know where you are and what you are doing at all times only works when those entities are highly ethical. In most cases, they probably aren't. But Nizeti sees possible benefits such as the ability for terrorists to identified and apprehended using face regonitition tech.
Blockchain – we’re not quite there yet
Few people saw blockchain coming in 2017, and many were shocked when cryptocurrency bitcoin hit an all-time high of around $USD20,000. There were many factors behind this sudden meteoritic rise, including a simultaneous realization of the potential in blockchain, and a large amount of speculative mania.
The word "tulip" is thrown around incorrectly and often when discussing blockchain, in reference to the famous tulip bubble of the 17th century. But the comparison quickly breaks down when we consider utility: unlike tulips, blockchain does actually have the potential to change the world. For Nizeti, blockchain isn't quite there yet.
"The bizarre proliferation of bitcoin and other fast-growing cryptocurrencies has made a lot of people look under the hood and consider what else the underlying technology holding the whole thing can do, but I think it’s early days for blockchain being a true disruptive force outside of cryptocurrency trading," he says. "It’s coming though, I think in about 18 months we’ll have a clearer view of some new really impactful uses of blockchain, but it’s too soon to know where just yet."
You might also like: Why Blockchain Technology Will Transform Customer Experience
Cloud and security: channel-focused predictions
Jacob Pereira, Channel Director Asia at Nutanix also provided Fifth Quadrant with two channel-focused predictions.
The first one related to the cloud. Pereira notes that the world and channel have finally realised that the public cloud is not a "one-way street". In response, organisations are reducing their investment in the public cloud, and keeping more data on-premises. "That will be the go-to option for a lot of businesses in 2018, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more big moves away from public cloud altogether," Pereira says.
Pereira believes that channel partners can benefit from this shift by offering an on-premises cloud too. "It’s about marrying these two now, and being a partner who can help guide customers towards the right mix to suit their businesses," he says.
Finally, Pereira observes that Nutanix is seeing increasing concerns around security from its partners and customers. The string of high-profile global hacks and data breaches has led businesses and citizens to question the level of security offered by the current computing environment.
"The public cloud comes into focus here too – one of the chief concerns customers have is around security and public cloud," Pereira says. "There is an increasing appetite to regain control of security on-premises, particularly with concerns around data sovereignty."
Can we even accurately predict anymore?
In today's increasingly fast-moving world, it's getting harder to make accurate predictions. Case in point is blockchain which no one guessed would have such an effect last year.
Nizeti says that we are quickly losing our ability to make predictions. We used to base predictions around the slight improvement of devices (for example the many iterations of the iPhone), but innovations are now coming in all shapes and sizes. Things aren't just getting smaller and or more powerful; they are changing fundamentally.
"It’s an ironic prediction, but I predict we won’t be able to predict accurately anymore. Technology is just changing too fast," Nizeti says.
"Looking 12 months into the future, it’s getting harder and harder to see what the landscape will look like."