I recently described a Deloitte paper on technology trends, focusing on their descriptions of IT management methods. The paper also covered broader trends including:
- Unstructured data, which they saw as a potentially bottomless source of insight. What’s interesting is they didn’t suggest many operational uses for it. By contrast, traditional corporate data management is almost exclusively about business operations.
- Machine intelligence, which they described as broader than artificial intelligence. They saw deployment moving from offering insights, to interacting with people, to acting autonomously. They also described it as controlling internal business processes as well as customer interactions. That’s not the way marketers tend to think but they’re right: the bulk of company processes are not customer-facing.
- Mixed reality, which is a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and Internet of Things. They focused less on game-like immersive experiences than on new types of interfaces, such as gesture- and voice-based, and on remote experiences such as collaborative work. They also listed some requirements that aren’t usually part of this discussion, including machines that can understand human expressions and emotions and security to ensure hackers don’t falsify identities or inject harmful elements into the remote experience (such as, telling you to make a repair incorrectly).
- Blockchain, which they presented as mostly in terms of easing security issues by verifying identities and allowing for selective sharing of information.
Those are intriguing thoughts but don’t present a specific vision of the future. A recent paper from Juniper Networks rushes in where Deloitte fears to tread.
Juniper’s term is “digital cohesion”, which they desfine as “an era in which multiple applications self-assemble to provide autonomous and predictive services that continually adapt to personal behaviors.” It somewhat resembles the ideas I offered in this post about RoseColoredGlasses.me
and further elaborated here. I guess that’s why I like it.
Beyond having excellent taste to agree me, Juniper fills in quite a few details about how this will happen. Key points include:
- Disruptive competitors can use high speed networks, local sensor data, and centralized cloud processing to offer new services with compelling economics (e.g. Airbnb vs. Hilton).
- Smartphones provide pre-built mass distribution, removing a traditional barrier to entry by disruptive competitors.
- Consumers are increasingly open to trying new things, having been trained to do so and seen benefits from previous new things.
- Natural interfaces will eliminate learning curves as systems adopt to users rather than the other way around, removing another barrier to adoption.
- Autonomous services will self-initiate based on observing past behavior and current context. Users won’t need to purposely select them. More barriers down.
- Services will be bundled into mega-services, simplifying user choice.
- Open APIs and interoperability will make it easy to add new services to the bundles. This is a key enabling technology.
- Better security and trust are essential for users to grant device access and share information with new services.
- Business relationships need to be worked out between the individual services and the mega-bundles.
I’m sure you see the overlap between the Deloitte and Juniper pieces. Machine intelligence and insights from unstructured data will be critical in building services smart enough to make the right choices. Machine intelligence will also create an underlying infrastructure that’s elastic and powerful enough to deliver services reliably regardless of user location or aggregate demand. Mixed reality will be key for gathering information as well as delivering interactive user experiences. Loosely coupled systems and disaggregated services will make it easy to inject new services into a bundle. Blockchain could play a critical role in solving the security and trust issues.
I’m also sure you see how this relates to ideas that neither vendor mentioned directly, such as the increasing value of rich customer data, importance of accurate identity resolution, role of brands in creating trust, and natural tendency of consumers to do everything through a single mega-service.
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Of course, there’s no guarantee this vision will come to pass. But it’s an interesting working hypothesis to shape your thinking. More than anything else, it should help you look beyond optimizing your current stack to ensure that you’ll be able to adapt if radical changes are needed.