Artificial intelligence leads Gartner list of foundational digital trends for 2018

aircraft sensors, market research
Aircraft sensors are among the already-sophisticated equipment that would benefit from expected technological advances. (Image: Sensor Magazine)

Artificial intelligence will continue making big inroads next year, with now the time for companies to invest in this rapidly evolving business technique, a new study says.

AI is at the top of the list of “foundations for future digital business and ecosystems” in research by consulting firm Gartner, which named its top technology trends for 2018. "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 David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, in the report.

"Investment areas can include data preparation, integration, algorithm and training methodology selection, and model creation,” Cearley said.

A related area is “Intelligent Things.” These are physical entities 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 such as autonomous vehicles, robots and drones.

"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, Cearley said.

“Cloud to the Edge” is a way of using complimentary 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.

“Conversational Platforms” will drive the next big paradigm shift in how humans interact with the digital world, Cearley said. The burden of translating intent shifts from user to computer. The platform takes a question or command from the user and then responds by executing some function, presenting some content or asking for additional input.

“Immersive Experience” involves virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It is felt to drive real tangible business benefit, enterprises 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.

Mixed reality, a type of immersion that merges and extends the technical functionality of both AR and VR, is emerging as the immersive experience of choice providing a technology that optimizes its interface to better match how people view and interact with their world.

“Blockchain” is evolving from a digital currency infrastructure into a platform for digital transformation. Blockchain technologies offer a radical departure from the current centralized transaction and record-keeping mechanisms and can serve as a foundation of disruptive digital business for both established enterprises and startups.

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.

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” approach to allow 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.