In 2018, we saw no shortage of technology innovation with much of the conversation within our teams and with our customers focused around AI and Machine Learning, 5G, Cloud, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Blockchain.
Given the pace of technology innovation, we need to identify what it means for our customers and how they can take advantage of this progress. The short answer is that it means digital transformation is critical to take advantage of all the data capital available during this Data Era. As this year progresses, we are incredibly excited for what’s to come, and here are our thoughts on the latest technology innovations we can expect to see:
The data forecast is calling for a multi-tiered approach to cloud, changing the face of the modern data centre.
Two thirds (66%) of Singapore business leaders here are using digital technologies to capture more data and accelerate new product/services development, according to our recent Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index. With data growing at the edge and the need for real-time powerful compute at scale to support AI and Machine Learning workloads, the data centre is officially becoming distributed. Multi and hybrid cloud adoption models will further evolve and place cloud computing capabilities at every layer of the data journey to address the unique needs inherent at each layer. This shift closer to the edge will support analytics and data management outside of the core as an extension of on-premise cloud. Look for a combination of public, private and hybrid to become the new normal that will make multi-tier clouds a reality but now being distributed widely from huge public data centres to dedicated optimised enterprise data centres to real time edge clouds all the way to more intelligent end devices integrated into this multi-tier multi cloud IT model. In that same research, an estimated 4 in 10 Singapore businesses plan to invest in multi-cloud technologies over the next three years.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will lead to the largest productivity increases we’ve seen in years, not just for people, but for machines.
AI and ML applications will enhance and transform the user experience by reducing both technology and human complexity. The line between human and machine tasks will change and more of the thinking tasks of every business and system will be driven by machine intelligence. AI and ML will continue to leverage the influx of data to drive greater efficiencies and insights that will optimise both the apps and devices we use every day. PCs will be able to predict power consumption needs based on usage patterns while apps will continue to learn from user preferences and behaviors to deliver more personalised experiences. Even large-scale enterprise systems will use AI and ML to drive greater automation and intelligence, making it easier for humans to gather insights or make strategic decisions based on data as we move from peta-scale to exa-scale to zeta-scale. Gartner estimates that in 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally. Singapore will benefit too, as it ranks as a top location for investment in AI and robotics (fDi Intelligence). In fact, Accenture estimates that AI is projected to almost double Singapore’s annual economic growth rates by 2035.
5G will speed up data, web apps and the shift to software-defined IT.
5G is undoubtedly being covered in many predictions for 2019, but what may not be obvious is how it’s driving the need for software-defined IT strategies more than ever before. 5G requires a software-defined network and new distributed compute models. These will ultimately need to be supported by a full software-defined data centre stack to ensure all that data can move at speed and scale, while being managed, analysed, stored and protected. Organisations will need the ability to manage 5G infrastructures with ease and flexibility to quickly apply new software code and APIs as needed. Automation and intelligence will be critical, and this is where software-defined shines with scalable NVMe fabrics and SD-WAN.
South Korea launched 5G commercial services in 2018. Japan will also do so in 2019, and we hope to see Singapore follow suit soon as well. 5G’s low-latency, high-bandwidth data will bring more powerful visual experiences to bear across AR, VR, gaming and mobile apps for I T…driving an increased demand for content at the edge. We’ll see a migration to progressive Web apps that are OS and device-agnostic to bring all those high-def experiences to more people in more places – which we expect to surge in Japan during the 2020 Olympics.
AR/VR will bring more on-site learning and creativity to the workplace.
Advances in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) have been made over the course of 2018 to create more immersive, enhanced visual experiences. For instance, public-private partnerships in Singapore, as part of the country’s Smart Nation push, have led to VR training solutions purpose-built to train medical students in operating room fundamentals. We’ll see increased adoption even in the workplace during 2019. On-site training opportunities and the ability to access data in real-time at the edge will not only fill a skills gap across certain trades and industries, but also give the workforce more freedom to do their best work untethered from the workplace. Further, employees will be able to collaborate and create in real-time through AR and VR experiences – bringing everyone into one virtual environment as if they’re all physically working together.
The biggest enabling trend for AR/VR will not be the user interface, but the advances in data centre and cloud infrastructures to provide the data fuel, processing capacity and performance needed to make AR/VR a fully immersive experience. This will signal a shift in thinking from AR/VR as a standalone experience but rather it will now be seen as a presentation interface of the advanced capabilities of the modern data centre’s AI driven insight and expanding data pools.
Blockchain will create a chain-reaction.
Blockchain continues to make an impact across industries and geographies. As an example, in 2018, the Taiwanese government announced the Digital Citizen Card - a world’s first blockchain-powered visual identification system designed to prevent identity theft and voter fraud, with potential for use in many other applications for secure data sharing. Another example is the interest group comprising palm oil companies, growers and non-profit organisations across Southeast Asia that initiated a blockchain solution to drive sustainability and ensure compliance across their supply chain. 2019 will be a formative year for practical implementation of blockchain, as organisations work to understand if it’s right for them right now, and if they have the right infrastructure, systems and services to support it. We are now maturing to understand that distributed ledgers are a useful tool where issues of distributed trust and data immutability are critical. This will result in more targeted and useful applications of this new technology.
There’s never been a better time for technology – with innovation in cloud, AI and Machine Learning, 5G, AR/VR and blockchain throttling full steam ahead. Organisations will be accelerating their digital transformation journey as they look for more ways to unlock the power of data. So hold on tight, 2019 promises to be a thrilling year as we ride full speed into the Data Era.
Eric Goh, Managing Director and Vice President, Singapore Enterprise Business, Dell EMC