We look back to the most defining tech of the decade (2010-2019) that helped shape the world of enterprise technology to become what it is today.
There was technology that made lives easier in the past ten years and there was tech that promised a lot and continues to deliver, albeit at a pace that hasn’t exactly kept pace with demand. At the onset of the decade smartphones were in their infancy. Today, they’ve outgrown demand to the point of redundancy where manufacturers add new features to sell a few pieces more. And the world moved beyond smartphones into smart homes and smart cars though none have really come home to roost, given the many challenges that these technologies have brought with them.
On the eve of a new decade, we take a quick look at the defining technology advances that shaped our world of enterprises and some of the challenges these advancements brought in their wake. By no means is this a comprehensive list so, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.
The smartphones made their appearance in the summer of 2007. Samsung’s Galaxy series was closely followed by the iPhone though it wasn’t until early 2010 that it became all-pervading. Mobile tech has created 11 million new jobs globally and revenues in excess of $3.3 trillion says a BCG study. Mobile phones have fundamentally altered the way we do business, offering more mobility, flexibility and availability, allowing professionals to stay connected and online every second. Emergence of 5G will bring smarter devices and hyper efficient value-chains.
Arguably the most transformative tech of the decade, the cloud has changed the way enterprises work. Once again, cloud was formed prior to 2010 but came into its own thereafter as the top tech giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon saw the potential and launched their services. Open source cloud software platform appeared in the past decade enterprises invested in the cloud without a second thought. Research says tech providers will make investments in cloud only, not cloud first, capturing 80% of all IT spends. Make no mistake, the cloud cover is just spreading!
Artificial intelligence is anything but artificial. Capturing patterns and trends has been part of human evolution and when increased processing power of the chip came along, so did analysis of vast amounts of data on a real time basis that eventually led to AI. It began by beating professional gamers and is now hoping to power self-driven cars. Machines learn from data repetition as Google proved with their cat experiment. Teaching the machines to learn themselves means innovation has just gone beyond limits of human imagination. Soon enough it would be all-pervading as data became more valuable than oil in the world as machines began learning to develop their own intelligence.
In end-2019, there were 900 million connected devices (things) across the world. By next year, this number will touch 20 billion. The arrival of the internet and Bluetooth meant devices could talk to each other and reduce losses in transit. The Internet of Things (IOT) transformed every major industry vertical, from banking and retail to healthcare, logistics and manufacturing. They reduce downtime, enhance safety and output quality, improve customer experience and add to profitability. And the 5G wave is only going to improve things further.
Believe in God, for everything else, there’s data. Of such value is data that countries are enacting laws to keep them safe and regulate their movement and use. Because it is this data that help businesses deliver better value in a more targeted fashion. Morgan Stanley had described the 2010s as the data decade as machines observed patterns and delivered outcomes that were ten times more accurate and valuable. The improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have given enterprises a way to search and sort through data, pulling the most useful insights that can help businesses change with their customers. Research suggests that enterprises would have detailed business plans to tackle this information flow.
The decade would be remembered as one where users voluntarily gave up privacy and the resultant sharing benefited enterprises thirsting for data. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest joined Facebook and Twitter to capture users and sell their data to enterprises offering everything from condoms to cars and beyond. Social media became a must-have for enterprises as listening provided immense value to brands to fathom behaviors (another data point). Of course, there were challenges as some governments cracked down on social surveillance while others welcomed it.
Everyone limited blockchain to cryptocurrency but the wiser ones realized that the technology could transform enterprises requiring a streamlined supply chain. Distributed ledger tech took the financial industry by storm before others began to follow suit, especially in the retail industry that needs effective and efficient supply chain management. The future would see the technology pervade almost every area of business operation as was evident when Brazil recently hired IBM to create a blockchain to manage the country’s birth and death records!
Given that 2010s was the year of data, it is hardly surprising that criminals were lying in wait to swipe the cupboards clean. What was earlier considered an exception is now the rule for enterprises who began protecting their valuables with a hitherto-unseen zeal. For businesses in this decade, a cyber-attack is not a matter of “if” but “when”. Every business is at risk of a cyber-attack. Cyber security pervaded the boardrooms like never before as the CISO became a superhero from an implementer. Since robbers outnumbered cops, governments brought in legislation to ensure robust security practices, viz., the GDPR and India’s own legislation.
When 3G became 4G earlier this decade, the world began watching television on their smartphone. With 5G that is 10-100 times faster set to arrive in 2020, the connected computing world could witness unimaginable innovation. Be it data analytics or smart homes, the systems would work at break-neck speeds transforming business and push forward the evolution of technologies like autonomous vehicles, IoT, edge computing, data analytics, and telemedicine. The world is definitely moving towards everything-as-a-service where hardware might just become redundant as the cloud becomes omnipresent and high-speed internet makes communication a breeze.
We may be jumping the gun here as the only story around quantum computing came in the form of a battle between two tech giants. Both IBM and Google made their case around creating computing power that was unheard off by humanity though it wasn’t made clear as to what mundane problems could get solved with all that processing power. Volkswagen and D-Wave made a start of sorts by attempting to optimize bus routes in Lisbon. Maybe, the coming decade will witness more use-case scenarios though research predicts a quantum jump in this industry’s worth to about $5 billion dollars in 2020 itself.