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Interview: Gartner’s Mike Walker Identifies 5 Emerging Technology Trends

September 4, 2018 • Features, General, Top Stories

Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), play a critical role in enabling companies to be ubiquitous, always available, and connected to business ecosystems to survive in the near future.

Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), play a critical role in enabling companies to be ubiquitous, always available, and connected to business ecosystems to survive in the near future.

The 35 must-watch technologies represented on the Gartner Inc. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2018 revealed five distinct emerging technology trends that will blur the lines between humans and machines.

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) play a critical role in enabling companies to be ubiquitous, always available, and connected to business ecosystems to survive in the near future.

IT News Africa had the opportunity to chat with Mike Walker, Research Director and an author of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies ahead of the 2018 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Could you give insight into the Emerging Hype Cycle?

These emerging technologies can be viewed in many different ways. One way is by the hype they generate. The Gartner Hype Cycle is a graphical depiction of a common pattern that arises with each new technology or other innovation. Each year, Gartner creates more than 90 Hype Cycles in various domains as a way for clients to track technology maturity and future potential.

How are emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), playing a critical role in enabling companies to be ubiquitous, always available, and connected to business ecosystems?

With 67% of business leaders seeing the urgency of digitalisation,1 it is important to keep an eye on what is next. Gartner identified that AI algorithms support the natural evolution of digital business, and that the key to unlocking the next wave of incremental business value and efficiencies over the next five years is to encode intellectual property (IP) in software.

Algorithms have shifted from theoretical academic discussions to commercialized use of complex and intelligent mathematical algorithms that are pivotal for organisations to drive improved decisions, process automation and competitive advantage.

Leading organisations are leveraging algorithms as enablers to the evolution of digital business, which will accelerate the creation of new business value through new insights, automation, and increased connectedness of people, business and things.

Algorithms and analytics are not new, but only a small minority of organizations have advanced their use to the point of creating truly transformational differentiation.

The confluence of four developments — unprecedented volumes of data, massively increased processing power, open access to AI tools and advancements in algorithms — creates a “tipping point” beyond which differentiated algorithms become central to competition.

Algorithms accelerate the capabilities of digital business through the addition of both speed and scale — how quickly transactions and processes can be executed, and the number of both simultaneous and interrelated connections — thereby supporting greater scale and complexity.

Could you give examples of new models and economic architectures?

Creating new revenue streams from services, and newly derived products from AI.

Driving efficiencies and effectiveness across business functions (such as automated call centers using natural-language processing or leveraging intelligent advisors for internal decision makers).

Replacing existing business functions with more autonomous approaches (such as target marketing, production quality control and robots).

Improving safety and environmental concerns (for example, creating real-time and predictive models of worker behaviors to prevent workplace accidents).

Enabling better capital deployment (such as assets off balance sheet)

Accurately discovering opportunities where automation of processes, tasks or resources can contribute to business value creation

Improving risk management algorithms for organizations have to comply with emerging regulations, such as Principle Based Reserving (PBR) in insurance or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.

What has been the adoption of AI in Africa, when compared with other global regions?

Here are some key findings when we look at digital transformation and emerging technologies in aggregate:
In comparison with the overall total, a greater percentage of Africa CIOs report to the CEO. This provides the IT organization with a strong platform to drive change initiatives.

With an average expected increase of 3.1%, Africa CIOs are more optimistic about IT budget increases, as compared with a very conservative mood last year. However, the focus remains on cost optimization.

Africa CIOs lag slightly behind their global peers on their digital journey, but some are leveraging digital teams and adopting disruptive technologies to catch up.

Only 16% of Africa CIOs are experimenting with artificial intelligence — whereas 15% globally have already deployed and another 35% are experimenting.

How important is it that people study models related to AI and Machine Learning?

As a technology leader, you will continue to be faced with rapidly accelerating technology innovations that will profoundly impact the way you deal with your workforce, customers and partners. The trends exposed by these emerging technologies, including AI, are poised to be the next most impactful technologies that have the potential to disrupt your business, and must be actively monitored by executive teams.

What can people expect at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo?

The event will gather 1,000+ CIOs and senior IT leaders, 100+ sessions and more than 25 solution providers. Through the mix of Gartner analysts, industry speakers and solution providers, CIOs and senior IT leaders will uncover new ways to approach challenges, make decisions with confidence, and become an even more effective leader.

By Neo Sesinye
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