CIOs may not be prepared for seven digital disruptions, including quantum computing, swarm technology and nanotechnology, according to Gartner’s latest research.
The other technologies rounding out the list include real-time language translation, human machine interfaces, smart phone disintermediation, and software distribution revolution.
“The single largest challenge facing enterprises and technology providers today is digital disruption,” said Gartner fellow vice-president Daryl Plummer.
“The virtual nature of digital disruptions makes them much more difficult to deal with than past technology-triggered disruptions. CIOs must work with their business peers to pre-empt digital disruption by becoming experts at recognising, prioritising and responding to early indicators.”
According to Gartner, the seven technologies comprise several categories of disruption, each of which represents a significant potential for new disruptive companies and business models to emerge.
According to Plummer, today’s data scientists, focused on machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and data and analytics simply cannot address some difficult and complex problems because of the compute limitations of classic computer architectures.
“Some of these problems could take today’s fastest supercomputers months or even years to run through a series of permutations, making it impractical to attempt.
“Quantum computers have the potential to run massive amounts of calculations in parallel in seconds. This potential for compute acceleration, as well as the ability to address difficult and complex problems, is what is driving so much interest from CEOs and CIOs in a variety of industries. But we must always be conscious of the hype surrounding the quantum computing model. QC is good for a specific set of problem solutions, not all general-purpose computing.”
Real-time language translation
Gartner said real-time language translation could, in effect, fundamentally change communication across the globe.
Devices such as translation earbuds and voice and text translation services can perform translation in real-time, breaking down language barriers with friends, family, clients and colleagues. This technology could not only disrupt intercultural language barriers, but also language translators as this role may no longer be needed.
“To prepare for this disruption, CIOs should equip employees in international jobs with experimental real-time translators to pilot streamlined communication,” said Plummer. “This will help establish multilingual disciplines to help employees work more effectively across languages.”
According to Gartner, nanotechnology is science, engineering and technology conducted at the nanoscale — 1 to 100 nanometers. The implications of this technology is that the creation of solutions involve individual atoms and molecules.
Nanotech is used to create new effects in materials science, such as self-healing materials. Applications in medicine, electronics, security and manufacturing herald a world of small solutions that fill in the gaps in the macroverse in which we live, Gartner noted.
“Nanotechnology is rapidly becoming as common a concept as many others, and yet still remains sparsely understood in its impact to the world at large,” said Plummer.
“When we consider applications that begin to allow things like 3D printing at nanoscale, then it becomes possible to advance the cause of printed organic materials and even human tissue that is generated from individual stem cells. 3D bioprinting has shown promise and nanotech is helping deliver on it.”
Gartner said swarm intelligence is the collective behaviour of decentralised, self-organised systems, natural or artificial.
A swarm consists of small computing elements (either physical entities or software agents) that follow simple rules for coordinating their activities. Such elements can be replicated quickly and inexpensively.
Therefore, a swarm can be scaled up and down easily as needs change.
Gartner urged CIOs to start exploring the concept to scale management, especially in digital business scenarios.
Human-machine interface (HMI) offers solutions providers the opportunity to differentiate with innovative, multimodal experiences, Gartner noted.
In addition, people living with disabilities benefit from HMIs that are being adapted to their needs, including some already in use within organisations of all types. Technology will give some of these people “super abilities,” spurring people without disabilities to also employ the technology to keep up, Gartner added.
For example, electromyography (EMG) wearables allow current users who would be unable to do so otherwise to use smartphones and computers through the use of sensors that measure muscle activity.
Software distribution revolution
Garner said software procurement and acquisition is undergoing a fundamental shift. The way in which software is located, bought and updated is now in the province of the software distribution marketplace.
“Establishing one’s own marketplace or participating as a provider in a third-party marketplace is a route to market that is becoming increasingly popular” said Plummer. “Distributors and other third parties also see the opportunity to create strong ecosystems (and customer bases) while driving efficiencies for partners and technology service providers.”
Gartner said the use of other devices, such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs), smartwatches and other wearables, may mean a shift in how people continue to use the smartphone.
“Smartphones are, today, critical for connections and media consumption,” said Plummer. “However, over time they will become less visible as they stay in pockets and backpacks. Instead, consumers will use a combination of voice-input and VPA technologies and other wearable devices to navigate a store or public space such as an airport or stadium without walking down the street with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen.”
Gartner said CIOs and IT leaders should use wearability of a technology as a guiding principle and investigate and pilot wearable solutions to improve worker effectiveness, increase safety, enhance customer experiences and improve employee satisfaction.
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