By Aisling Keegan, Vice-President & General Manager, Dell EMC Ireland

If 2017 could be represented in one word, that word would be change. An increasing array of technological innovations have come to the market – transforming how we live and work.

Despite the disruption they bring about, emerging technologies have the potential to solve some of the problems faced by people and society and offer the opportunity for businesses to increase productivity.  This view is backed up by a report from Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future (IFTF) which was published in August of this year forecasting a new era of human-machine partnerships to be forged by 2030.

In this exciting new age, emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and advances in Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing – made possible through exponential developments in software, analytics, and processing power – will help organisations throughout Ireland to adapt and realise their digital future.

To assist businesses in undertaking their journey of digital transformation in the year ahead, we’ve compiled our predictions to explore the innovations that will come to the fore in 2018.

Prediction 1: AI will do the ‘thinking tasks’ at speed

Over the next few years, AI will change the way we spend our time acting on data, not just curating it. Businesses will harness AI to do data-driven “thinking tasks” for them, significantly reducing the time they spend scoping, debating, scenario planning and testing every new innovation.  It will mercifully release bottlenecks and liberate people to make more decisions and move faster, in the knowledge that great new ideas won’t get stuck in the mire.

Prediction 2: Embedding the IQ of Things

Starting in 2018, we’ll take gargantuan strides in embedding near-instant intelligence in IoT-enhanced cities, organizations, homes, and vehicles. With the cost of processing power decreasing and a connected node approaching €0, soon we’ll have 100 billion connected devices, and after that a trillion. The magnitude of all that data combined, processing power with the power of AI will help machines better orchestrate our physical and human resources. We’ll evolve into ‘digital conductors’ of the technology and environments surrounding us. Technology will function as an extension of ourselves. Every object will become smart and enable us to live smarter lives.

Prediction 3: We’ll don AR headsets

It also won’t be long until the lines between ‘real’ reality and augmented reality begin to blur. AR’s commercial viability is already evident. For instance, teams of construction workers, architects and engineers are using AR headsets to visualize new builds, coordinate efforts based on a single view of a development and train on-the-job laborers when a technician can’t be on site that day.

 

Prediction 4:  A deeper relationship with customers

Dell Technologies’ Digital Transformation Index shows that 45% of leaders in mid to large organizations believe they could be obsolete within 5 years and 78% see start-ups as a threat to their business. It’s never been more important to put the customer experience first. Over the next year, with predictive analytics, machine learning (ML) and AI at the forefront, companies will better understand and serve customers at, if not before the point of need.

Prediction 5: Bias check will become the next spell check

Over the next decade, emerging technologies such as VR, AI, will help people find and act on information without interference from emotions or external prejudice, while empowering them to exercise human judgment where appropriate. In the short-term, we’ll see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias. Meanwhile VR will increasingly be used as an interview tool to ensure opportunities are awarded on merit alone, e.g. by masking a prospective employee’s true identity with an avatar.

Prediction 6: Media & Entertainment will break new ground with esports

In 2018, we’ll see increasingly vast numbers of players sitting behind screens or wearing VR headsets to battle it out in a high-definition computer-generated universe. As hundreds of millions of players and viewers tune-in, esports will go mainstream.

Prediction 7: We’ll journey toward the “mega-cloud”

Cloud is not a destination. It’s an IT model where orchestration, automation and intelligence are embedded deeply into IT Infrastructure. In 2018, businesses are overwhelmingly moving toward a multi-cloud approach, taking advantage of the value of all models from public to private, hosted, managed and SaaS. However, as more applications and workloads move into various clouds, the proliferation of cloud siloes will become an inevitability, thus inhibiting the organization’s ability to fully exploit data analytics and AI initiatives. This may also result in applications and data landing in the wrong cloud leading to poor outcomes.

As a next step, we’ll see the emergence of the “mega cloud”, which will weave together multiple private and public clouds to behave as a coherent, holistic system. The mega cloud will offer a federated, intelligent view of an entire IT environment. To make the mega cloud possible, we will need to create multi-cloud innovations in networking (to move data between clouds), storage (to place data in the right cloud), compute (to utilize the best processing and acceleration for the workloads), orchestration (to link networking, storage and compute together across clouds) and, as a new opportunity, customers will have to incorporate AI and ML to bring automation and insight to a new level from this next generation IT environment.

Prediction 8: The year to sweat the small stuff

In this increasingly interconnected world, our reliance on third parties has never been greater. Organizations aren’t simple atomic instances; rather, they are highly interconnected systems that exist as part of something even bigger. The ripples of chaos spread farther and faster now that technology connects us in astonishing ways. Consider that one of the most substantial data breaches in history occurred because attackers used credentials to log into a third-party HVAC system.

Due to our increasingly interwoven relationship with machines, small subtle failures can lead to mega failures. Hence, next year will be a year of action for multinational corporations, further inspired by the onslaught of new regulations such as GDPR.  Prioritizing the implementation of cybersecurity tools and technologies to effectively protect data and prevent threats will be a growing imperative.

More about Aisling Keegan – Vice President and Commercial General Manager, Dell EMC Ireland

Aisling Keegan is Vice President and General Manager for Dell EMC Ireland and is responsible for driving the company’s commercial business on the island of Ireland. This involves delivering a wide range of services, solutions and products to a diverse group of customers in the public and private sector.

Aisling is also a member of the Ireland Leadership Forum, a group which provides strategic direction and governance to Dell EMC’s sites in Cork, Limerick and Dublin. Dell EMC’s Irish operations span sales, services, operations, IT, manufacturing, finance and solutions development.

Aisling joined Dell EMC in 2000 and during her seventeen-year tenure with the company has held a number of key leadership positions across the small, medium and large enterprise customer segments. For the last five years, Aisling has served as executive director and general manager, Private Large Commercial Business, Dell UK. In this role, she inspired the organisation to deliver innovative and practical technology solutions to the midmarket and large institutions across the UK. During this time, she saw unprecedented share gain whilst skilfully managing a number of Go-To-Market transitions.


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