ICT Trends to watch in 2018

The past 12 months witnessed some significant developments in major ICT trends such as the IoT, smart cities and the cloud. In 2018, we fully expect to see a continuation of these and other ICT trends that shaped the CEE region in the last 12 months, with plenty of new twists and turns along the way. Here’s an overview of some of the ICT trends that are set to change the business world in the year ahead.

#1. The 5G era will begin, generating demand for new applications
The coming 12 months will be a critical period for 5G, marking the start of a new era for mobile network technologies. The 3GPP is working towards a functional freeze date for Release 15, which will include the first set of 5G standards, in September 2018. One of the most important aspects of 5G will be its ability to transform entire industries, not to mention its role in supporting Industry 4.0. Network slicing, in other words, the allocation and deployment of virtualised network resources on demand, is regarded as one solution that will simultaneously accommodate applications with vastly different characteristics over a common network infrastructure — applications like the remote operation of machinery, tele-surgery and smart metering.

#2. IoT data ownership will become a major concern
Smart cities, connected devices, smart solutions for businesses and homes — these are all subsets of the Internet of Things (IoT) and will continue to gain traction in 2018. Indeed, the IoT is gaining a level of maturity not seen before, as device interoperability looks set to become a reality and low power wide area networks (LPWANs) such as narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) ensure that devices and applications are more accessible. But, while last year saw the intersection of big data and the IoT, in 2018 the focus will be on who gets access to the vast amount data that is generated by the IoT, as well as how can it be used and who owns it.

#3. Edge will eat the cloud
This heading is actually taken from a March 2017 blog by Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, who explored the expected switch in focus from cloud computing to edge computing because of the growing need for low latency and real-time response and processing. For many years now, enterprises have been focusing on moving their legacy systems into the cloud. However, trends such as cloud computing, the IoT, machine learning, and augmented and virtual reality favour an approach that places content, computing and processing closer to the user or “things — or the “edge” of the network. Yet cloud and edge computing are regarded as more complementary than competitive. Gartner suggests that when the two technologies are implemented together, “cloud is used to create the service-oriented model and edge computing offers a delivery style that allows for executions of disconnected aspects of cloud service.”

#4. Artificial intelligence (AI) will become more pervasive 
Gartner anticipates that every app, application and service will incorporate AI at some level over the next few years, enabling greater levels of autonomy and flexibility. The research company also advises using intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity, as opposed to replacing people entirely, and expects to see a proliferation of “intelligent things” that combine AI with machine learning. Furthermore, Gartner expects to see a greater focus on what it describes as “narrow AI”, or “highly scoped machine-learning solutions that target a specific task…with algorithms chosen that are optimized for that task.” These tasks could include understanding language or driving a vehicle in a controlled environment.

#5. AR, VR and MR to transform the enterprise
As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies support increasingly immersive experiences in the digital world, “mixed reality” (MR) — or sometimes hybrid reality —is increasingly being used to describe the user experience when the physical world is blended with the digital world. Gartner suggests that the focus will be placed more on mixed reality, “which is emerging as the immersive experience of choice, where the user interacts with digital and real-world objects while maintaining a presence in the physical world.” AR, VR and MR are about much more than gaming and other consumer applications: the enterprise potential is also proving to be a cause for excitement. Think smart goggles for maintenance workers, the overlaying of holographic elements onto real-world environments and 3D models, to name just some.

Of course, there are many more trends we could talk about, including the impact of blockchain and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, new approaches to security in the face of increasing cyber-attacks, and how we deal with the growing need to both exploit and protect personal data. In the CEE region, Deutsche Telekom is there to help you deal with both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, fine-tuning our products and service offerings to ensure we remain your digital partner for the future.

Author: Ralf Nejedl Senior Vice President of B2B at Deutsche Telekom Europe
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