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Monday, May 27th, 2019

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The Year Ahead: Technologies that will shake the IT industry in 2019

The Year Ahead: Technologies that will shake the IT industry in 2019

The year ahead is expected to be an exciting period in the world of information technology. Many significant developments are expected to happen in the fields of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain, cloud computing, and digital transformation. And with these developments will come great security risks which businesses have to prepare for.

Networks Asia gathered all the outlook statements submitted by technology vendors and put together the common predictions to produce a list of technologies that are expected to shake or disrupt the industry in 2019.

SECURITY PREDICTIONS

Several changes have taken place in the world of cybersecurity in 2018. Malware and targeted “spear phishing,” for example, were on the rise, while protecting the perimeter has slowed down, due to hardening of internal controls. As we enter 2019, the changing threat landscape is certain to result in a barrage of additional considerations in how company’s protect data and systems.

Phishing attacks will increase exponentially

“The days of poorly worded messages filled with grammatical errors and cut-and-pasted logos are over,” said Gene Scriven, Chief Information Security Officer (Senior VP of Global Information Security) at ACI Worldwide.  “Messages are now more succinct and do a much better job of masquerading as legitimate correspondence. This will bring a rise in the number of successful phishing attacks. Since the costs (and risks) of mounting phishing attacks to plant malware or steal credentials are so disappointingly low, phishing will continue to be one of the most prevalent attack vectors used by malicious individuals.”

Jagdish Mahapatra, Managing Director for Asia, CrowdStrike, concurs:2019 will see cyber attackers continue to leverage sophisticated social engineering, phishing and spear-phishing techniques that bypass the capabilities of most security mechanisms.”

Mahapatra sees enterprises adopting incident response approaches that leverage integrated threat intelligence and endpoint technology to detect the cause and source of an attack. By reducing the time it takes to detect and identify intrusions, organizations will be able to significantly reduce remediation time.

Ransomware attacks will decrease, while basic malware will become commonplace

Once the holy grail of hackers (and feared by corporate security professionals), ransomware has decreased over the last year or so, and that downward trend will continue into 2019. This is because fewer companies paid ransoms to recover data than expected, while malware/ransomware defences have improved.

“Ransomware will, however, remain in the hacker toolkit, but will be used mostly as a distraction, to focus attention on the locked files, while a data harvesting attack is silently occurring elsewhere in the network. Whether delivered via email or visits to malicious websites, basic malware (keylogging, data mining, etc.) will also increase as an attack vector of choice because of its simplicity and effectiveness,” said ACI’s Scriven.

Bruce Davie, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Asia-Pacific and Japan, VMware, notes there are many millions of different strains of malware designed with the explicit goal of escaping detection.

“Chasing after malware is analogous to looking for a needle in a haystack. A better approach is to focus on ‘known good’ – ensuring that the code running on enterprise systems is the correct code that was provisioned to run, and nothing more,” said Davie.

Boards will dramatically increase their attention toward cybersecurity

Over the last several years, board members of companies have become increasingly more aware of the “personal liabilities” of serving on corporate boards. As cybersecurity becomes a much more significant aspect of successful companies, board members want to (have to) ensure due diligence for proper security-related controls and processes.

“As such, they are becoming much more aware of “everything cyber” to ensure they fully understand their responsibilities. As that awareness increases, in parallel with the importance to cybersecurity, 2019 and beyond will see a drastic increase in board members becoming involved in decisions around their companies’ cybersecurity programs,” said ACI’s Scriven.

Meanwhile, consumers in Asia have not been punishing to organizations involved in cybersecurity breaches so far; however, this is expected to change as consumers and even businesses become more aware of the impact of these breaches.

“An organization’s cybersecurity culture will drastically impact their ability to foster customer loyalty or business relationships. Organizations need to ensure that good cybersecurity hygiene is maintained at all times to remain competitive, and is as visible as any top industry accreditations or certifications, since breaches and poor cyber practices can no longer be hidden,” said William Tam, Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, Forcepoint.

Increasing investment in compliance of regulations

There has been a major push in data security and private protection regulations worldwide. The most talked about event was in this May, when the GDPR took effect in the European Union (EU). There are similar regulations established or in draft in other regions of the world. These regulations demand the compliance of management of personal information; storage of data; and cross-border transfer of data.

“At this point, the enforcement of these regulations are sporadic,” said Tim Liu, CTO of Hillstone Networks. “We expect the enforcement to pick up as companies that are in compliance reach critical mass. As security breaches continue to occur, companies will protect themselves from negligence by increasing investment in compliance of regulations. We will see this continue to happen for the next year or two, at least. Many regional regulations have ramifications worldwide. The other challenge companies may face is how to preserve operational efficiency while implementing compliance measures.”

Increased attack on operational and critical infrastructure

Digital transformation is connecting our world by the day. Billions of new devices are getting connected to the Internet, and to each other, including those in an industrial environment. While this is creating opportunities for companies, it is also opening new challenges, not least on the cybersecurity front.

“Hackers, who have traditionally targeted IT systems, are now starting to attack operational infrastructure of companies,” said Stephen Dane, Managing Director, Global Security Sales Organization, APJC, Cisco.

According to a recent study by Cisco, 30 percent companies across Asia-Pacific, Japan and China have already had an attack on their operational infrastructure, while 50 percent expect such an attack to take place in the future.

“This has huge implications for companies. To be able to better protect themselves, companies need to ensure that their security posture has three key elements; Visibility, Segmentation and Threat Protection,” said Dane.

Dane explained that the the first enables companies to see everything with complete visibility of users, devices, networks, applications, workloads and processes. The second reduces the attack surface by preventing attackers from moving laterally east-west within a network even if they break in via a weak link. The last helps to stop the breach by quickly detecting, blocking and responding to attacks before hackers can disrupt operations.

Meanwhile, in the government sector, social media will become regulated as critical infrastructure. “Governments will start counting government sanctioned social media accounts as critical infrastructure,” said Jeffrey Kok, VP Solution Engineers, Asia Pacific and Japan at CyberArk.

The future of security – crypto-agility

According to Rana Gupta, Vice President of APAC Sales for Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto, 2019 will see the emergence of the future of security—crypto-agility.

“As computing power increases, so does the threat to current security protocols. But one notable example here is encryption, the static algorithms of which could be broken by the increased power,” said Gupta.

Gupta explained that crypto-agility will enable businesses to employ flexible algorithms that can be changed, without significantly changing the system infrastructure, should the original encryption fail.

“It means businesses can protect their data from future threats including quantum computing, which is still years away, without having to tear up their systems each year as computing power grows,” said Gupta.

Increasing adoption of trusted digital IDs, authentication technologies

The average person already owns multiple digital identities to access a range of different services. Yet as more important services move online, it's critical that digital identities reflect real, verifiable identities.

“In 2019 and beyond, we foresee a growing movement towards improved forms of trusted digital identity management, based on the verification of identity documents, biometrics and trusted third parties,” said Tan Teck Lee, Asia President Government Business Unit and Singapore Country Head, Gemalto.

In Asia, we are far more accepting of using physical attributes like facial recognition or fingerprints to authenticate our credentials. While passwords may change, physical biometrics are genetic and specific to each person, making it even more lucrative for hackers to exploit the serious vulnerabilities present in biometrics authentication.

“In 2019, we will see companies add behavioral biometrics with strong authentication, either based on advanced technology like FaceID or 2FA to provide a continuous authentication by incorporating a person’s physical actions which will be very hard to mimic,” adds William Tam, Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, Forcepoint.

A collision course to cyber cold war

As governments come up with isolationist policies, access to technology transfer, knowledge sharing will become difficult making nation-states and corporate entities to use cyber tactics to steal information, and even disrupt critical infrastructure and vital industries.

“To prevent critical data and IP theft, organizations should focus on understanding the normal behavior of legitimate users with access to trade secrets and knowing when this behavior changes—signaling an attempt to steal them,” said Forcepoint’s Tam.

5G will make it faster and easier... for the bad guys to get in

2019 will bring widespread 5G connectivity for the very first time, and with it, exponential growth in connected devices. Any device connected to 5G has the potential to become a target for hackers – even if it runs on a secured 5G network, according to a statement from Juniper Networks.

“The growth of 5G means that the industry needs to be considering how to have an effective security posture and a solid foundation of security before these new networks are deployed,” said the company.

CLOUD COMPUTING PREDICTIONS

Today there is a cloud divide. The public cloud is not purpose-built for enterprise needs, while enterprise-grade storage lacks the agility, scalability and user-friendliness of the public cloud. This forces organizations to make compromises on their cloud and data infrastructure, which in turn affects how efficiently businesses can respond to emerging needs and demands.

Modern enterprises face complex problems, so there is a need to overcome challenges around moving data between the public cloud and on-premise solutions.

“In 2019, we expect these issues can be ironed out with the help of more robust and unified multi-cloud solutions. This would provide organizations with the flexibility and simplicity they need to bridge the cloud divide,” said Chua Hock Leng, Managing Director, Singapore, Pure Storage

Demand for cloud security to continue

The industry saw a pickup in demand for cloud security in 2018 and this trend is expected to continue in 2019.

As cloud technology continues to expand in adoption, security in the cloud continues to become more and more important. We saw a pickup in demand for cloud security technology in 2018 and this trend will continue.

“Since different regions are in various stages of cloud acceptance, we see the adoption of different kinds of cloud deployment in coexistence: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, community cloud, multicloud, etc.,” said Tim Liu, CTO of Hillstone Networks.

The other trend is that increasingly, security offerings are either delivered through the cloud or use the cloud to enhance capabilities.

“Many of the AI-enabled capabilities, because of big data and computing requirements, are delivered via the cloud. From the customer side, enterprises have been using cloud services for web and email protection. This has been extended to other areas like Cloud Access Security Brokers. In addition, many solutions for cloud security are also delivered via the cloud,” said Liu.

Competition for the edge

Cloud providers will try to build an edge of their own, but service providers will remain keepers of the edge as they can compete with much better economic scale, according to Juniper Networks. “Over the next year, service providers and cloud providers will compete to win the edge but expect more cloud-SP partnerships to unfold as the year progresses.”

According to Robert Yang, Vice President, Asia Pacific Sales, Seagate Technology, enterprises will invest and maximise the use of the edge in existing local and cloud infrastructures – enabling them to make smarter decisions instantly and driving up productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Juniper Networks also predicts that in 2019, automation will be the differentiating factor among service providers. This year, service providers will fully adopt automated and virtualized cloud platforms that can deploy new services in months, not years. Those who fail to implement automation will find themselves years behind competitors, as end users will find more agility and better service with those who embrace automation.

A strong move to banking-as-a-service

As more SMBs shift their ERP into the cloud, they require their financials to follow suit. That’s why in 2019, we will see a strong move to banking-as-a-service, according to Ronen Naishtein, General Manager, Asia, HK & TW, Oracle NetSuite.

“To avoid becoming an “unintentional utility,” as Forrester puts it, financial institutions will have to embrace the concept of open banking. This would mean forging digital connections with other cloud-based systems to provide direct access to financial services such as embedded payments, reconciliation and lending delivered as an extension of their ERP. This will help increase operational efficiency and improve workflows, driving down cost and creating peace of mind for SMBs.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING PREDICTIONS

In 2019, we will see many different kinds of artificial intelligence implementations and face many risks as a result.

Sherif El-Nabawi, Vice President, Sales Engineering & Service Provider Sales, Asia Pacific & Japan, Symantec, projects that AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service by 2020. Tapping on this trend, attackers will exploit AI systems and supercharge criminal activity to probe networks, search for new vulnerabilities, and create extremely sophisticated and targeted engineering tacks.

“On the flip side, defenders will also depend increasingly on AI to counter attacks and identity vulnerabilities. Using AI-powered security to spot new threats, uncover, and fix new vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them,” said El-Nabawi.

“Many vendors have incorporated AI into their security products, and a large percentage of enterprises have already adopted AI-based security. One of the major headaches of today’s security response in enterprise IT is dealing with mountains of alert data,” said Tim Liu, CTO of Hillstone Networks.

“Using machine learning and advanced data analytics, the AI system can filter out noise and highlight critical events that require attention. We have seen AI technology being used in other parts of enterprise security, such as endpoint security, network traffic and behavior analysis. We will see that a large portion of the enterprise security investment will have AI enabled capabilities through next year.”

Year 2019 will also see wider adoption in AI and machine learning in forensic incident analysis and with that, a surge in abuse of the technologies.

“AI and ML will open new doors for hackers to carry out more sophisticated and personal attacks in the new year and beyond, making it critical for enterprises to stay one step ahead and stop attacks in their tracks,” said Juniper Networks in a statement.

AI to enable predictive insights and data protection

“Going into 2019, organizations will deploy more technology that enables predictive insights into IT infrastructure,” said Ravi Rajendran, Managing Director, Asia South Region, Veritas Technologies LLC.

Rajendran said that currently, most IT managers are taking a rearview mirror approach when reacting to unplanned downtime caused by interruptions related to software or hardware error, component failure or something even more catastrophic in the data center.

Incorporating predictive technologies will enable proactive monitoring for downtime and faults and IT managers can take preventative action before a disruption ever occurs. Being more prescriptive can lead to fewer disruptions and less downtime in operations.

Data protection stands to benefit the most from AI enabled predictive insights by reducing risk to data in a power disruption. With regulations such as GDPR guaranteeing data protection for users at a business’s expense, it is becoming increasingly important to keep data under lock and key.

In Singapore, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has recognized the benefits of AI and is also taking strides to ensure that both businesses and the public are well educated about the AI value chain (Developers, Businesses and Consumers). On top of this, they have also developed an AI governance framework which will consider important issues in the commercial deployment and adoption of AI in Singapore. Proactive strategies to avoid the repercussions of even a moment of downtime will be critical for businesses in 2019 that need to provide round-the-clock data support.

Machine learning is ready for primetime

Anneliese Schulz, Vice President, Software AG Asia, says that a combination of IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics is seen to provide significant value as enterprises in the region move from pilot phase to more enterprise-wide deployments in 2019.

“With IDC predicting that more than 50 percent of security alerts will be handled by AI-powered automation by 2022, machine learning is ready for primetime, but we must be acutely aware of its strengths and limitations,” said Bruce Davie, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Asia-Pacific and Japan, VMware.

Citing an example, Davie says that modern data centres use automation tools to provision software, giving us access to a manifest of the expected good behaviour. Virtualisation gives us an enforcement point from which to observe the behaviour and ensure it conforms to what is expected.

“Machine learning algorithms can also play a role. Machine learning systems are poor at extrapolation – they recognise what they have seen before, whether being used for image classification or to observe the software running in a data centre. Thus, machine learning is unlikely to recognise new forms of malware that were not part of the training dataset.

“Conversely, these algorithms can be trained with reference datasets on how non-compromised applications and processes behave. They can be trained to monitor ‘known good’ behaviour and alert or take other pre-emptive actions when unexpected behaviour, indicative of a breach, is observed,” said Davie.

Increasingly being used beyond security

Meanwhile, modern video technology, powered by AI and machine learning, is increasingly being used beyond security. The number of companies using it as a business driver will accelerate in 2019, and more innovative applications will be developed, according to Benjamin Low, Vice President, APAC, Milestone Systems.

For example, video analytics can track customers’ routes in retail stores and how long they spend at each display. This allows retailers to identify hot and cold spots and optimise their marketing and product placement. In healthcare, AI-powered video technology is helping professionals deliver more accurate diagnoses and improve overall patient care.

“It’s only a matter of time before businesses across the board start reaping the benefits of intelligent video technology,” said Low.

SMBs will increasingly benefit from AI

If 2018 was the year in which SMBs were dipping their toes into AI waters. In 2019, they are likely to jump in head first.

“Vendors will launch services and apps which are powered by AI and will make those available to SMBs – often at no extra cost,” said Ronen Naishtein, General Manager, Asia, HK & TW, Oracle NetSuite.

Naishtein said that SMBs will increasingly benefit from AI by using it to simplify mundane tasks like predictive inventory and invoicing, along with advanced tasks like business revenue forecasting and managing intelligent payments.

“While AI is about reproducing cognition, today’s cybersecurity solutions are actually more representative of machine learning, requiring humans to upload new training datasets and expert knowledge. This still requires intensive and high quality inputs from cybersecurity professionals, proving that organizations cannot rely heavily on AI technology alone to protect their critical data.”

Alongside the rise of AI is the rise of chatbots

Alongside the rise of AI is the rise of chatbots, which will see a major push next year. Next year, more businesses will adopt AI-powered chatbots for front line sales or customer service.

“These bots will do the heavy lifting – dealing with the most prevalent service requests in the first instance, or even starting the engagement from a marketing perspective,” said NetSuite’s Naishtein. “Yet, instead of replacing human interaction entirely, bots will work in tandem with customers, human agents and other bots to ensure the effortless flow of information and that customer satisfaction remains intact.

Leveraging on automation at a much higher level

Manpower shortages and increased competition will continue to impact industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality in 2019. Robotics and automation will be key in alleviating the pressures experienced by businesses in 2019.

“Businesses and industries will start leveraging on automation at a much higher level than before,” said Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore.   “Automation has already helped alleviate many laborious and menial tasks undertaken by humans such as transportation and packing. Moving forward, advanced technologies will be able to take on higher level tasks with systems becoming more intelligence.”

However, as businesses continue to digitalise, the demand for people with technical skills such as data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence, will continue to grow, noted Lieu. Institute of higher learnings (IHL) will step up efforts to equip students with the skills needed to be relevant in the workforce. In order to stay competitive, businesses will also tap onto the initiatives introduced by the government to upskill workers.

The good news: employees want to embrace AI with open arms. According to an Oracle study, 93 percent of people would trust orders from robots at work. However, to guarantee the successful adoption of AI, organisations need to prepare the workforce by addressing potential AI skill gaps through training.

“In Southeast Asia, companies are facing a shortage of manpower to deal with the barrage of threats in the corporate network. There is a misconception that AI can fill the void but it is not about to happen anytime soon,” said William Tam, Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, Forcepoint.

IOT PREDICTIONS

There have been hotspots in Internet of Things (IoT) development in the past year, notably smart cars, home automation, and cameras. In 2019, we will start to see IoT adoption enterprise-wide.

“Traditionally, security in the IoT space has been lacking due to various reasons such as the myriad of vendors and proprietary protocols,” said Tim Liu, CTO of Hillstone Networks. “This includes lack of security awareness and focus, as well as the lack of end user interaction with the devices – all of which result in less chances of detecting possible breaches. We have seen specific security solutions that target segments of the IoT market, such as security for smart cars and camera networks.  This market will grow in 2019. Elsewhere, we will see IoT adoption enterprise-wide in the next few years; compliance requirements and data protection requirements will drive IoT security in those areas.”

Lim Fang How, Regional Director – Southeast Asia, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, said that while businesses have long recognised the value in IoT strategies to fuel critical operations and drive efficiency, there is also an increasing awareness in the importance of empowering the edge, or rather the front line, of their business.

“Evolving technologies such as connected sensors, digital twins, 5G and blockchain will enable businesses to collect and visualize the right data from endpoints in real-time. By creating conversational systems across multiple channels, people and machines will be able to communicate effectively, allowing them to respond effectively to changing business needs,” said Lim. 

More attacks on IoT devices

5G is poised to go live in many cities globally in 2019, and Juniper Networks expects next year to really showcase the economic power of the new mobile technology. “This is the year apps start to show their real value in the enterprise and industrial space with a host of new IoT, AR/VR, digital twins and connected-car applications coming to life,” said Juniper Networks.

IDG predicts that the market for 5G and 5G-related network infrastructure will grow from approximately $528 million in 2018 to $26 billion in 2022.

“This growth also expands the attack surface area as more 5G IoT devices connect directly to the 5G network rather than via a Wi-Fi router,” said Sherif El-Nabawi, Vice President, Sales Engineering & Service Provider Sales, Asia Pacific & Japan, Symantec. “It will become more difficult to monitor all IoT devices since they bypass a central router. More broadly, the ability to back-up or transmit massive volumes of data easily to cloud-based storage will give attackers rich new targets to breach.

William Tam, Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, Forcepoint comments that while attacks on consumer IoT are prevalent, the possibility of disruption in manufacturing and similar industries makes the threat all the more serious.

“In the case of industrial IoT, attackers will target the underlying cloud infrastructure as millions of devices are connecting to the cloud for updates and maintenance. The access to these multi-tenanted and multi-customer environments will help attackers launch widespread attacks and bring much bigger rewards,” said Tam.

A bigger role in healthcare

Technology will continue to play a bigger role in healthcare, be it in automated transportation in hospitals, drug discovery or even monitoring one’s blood pressure at home. The healthcare industry, and thus patients, will increasingly benefit from advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and IoT.

“As people mature in their use of smart devices, so too will the advances in health monitoring devices. IoT and health applications such as Omron Connect will make self-monitoring easier than before,” said Alexis En, Marketing Director, Omron Healthcare.

En explained that consumers will be able to monitor their health from their smart phones, which can be easily connected to blood pressure and blood glucose monitors, and channel that information back to their doctors to help in the management of their health.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION PREDICTIONS

In 2019, companies are likely to succeed with a clear digital transformation strategy. This involves a change of culture, processes and ways of doing business with new and innovative business models. Companies seeking to only refresh their infrastructure and application landscape will eventually lag behind.

“Digitalization with new technologies will become a growth strategy for traditional industries to find a new growth path, create new revenue streams and fend off competition from rivals’ new business models,” said Boon Hock Goh, Senior Director, Solution Design, Network Services, APAC, NTT Communications.

Citing an example, Boon said that traditional automobile companies are beginning to adapt IoT and cloud services to build autonomous vehicles. With global car sales stagnating and overall competitiveness increasing, automobile companies want to shift from just selling vehicles to providing transport services, thereby introducing new revenue streams to their business. This requires a major shift in business strategy and mindset across an entire company.

“More enterprises will be leveraging APIs and architectures to effectively interconnect digital solutions and better deliver agile connectivity,” said Anneliese Schulz, Vice President, Software AG Asia.

Schulz noted that API implementation success will be a key priority in 2019 as enterprises recognise the need to further enhance existing infrastructures, given the heightened focus on digital transformation.

For NetSuite’s Naishtein, everybody needs to think digital – or be left behind. “By not adopting cloud or digitally transforming, businesses risk being disrupted, or worse, losing out altogether.”

BLOCKCHAIN PREDICTIONS

Moving into 2019, the technology market will continue to transform and adapt to new customer demands. In particular, organizations will be collecting and analyzing vast volumes of data – more so than ever before. Thus, data and IT staff will need to incorporate more blockchain technology into their workflows for enhanced data security and protection. Leveraging technologies that enable predictive insights will give IT staff the tools to know how or when to upgrade technology and ensure business continuity.

“The benefits that blockchain will bring to an organization’s security protocols are unparalleled. However, there are other areas that will be affected as blockchain becomes more prominent in 2019,” said Ravi Rajendran, Managing Director, Asia South Region, Veritas Technologies LLC.

Rajendran further explained that traditional backup will give way to hyperconverged solutions. Convergence will occur between compliance, protection and security as businesses continue to address risks and exploit opportunity with the data they have access to. In the coming year, organizations that can effectively leverage blockchain will be the clear winners as technologies continue to converge.

This makes blockchain ripe for the backup and recovery market because it can touch all pieces of data, stored in any location. As long as data exists, the need to tap into that data will also exist – but who has access to this data will be the real determinant of blockchain’s power.

“We’ll need to keep three groups in mind: the user, the organization and any third parties. Individuals will need the opportunity to delete their data and access it when they like. Organizations will want to use insights from the data to explore new opportunities. At the same time, both parties should be concerned with any threats from third parties.

“Blockchain can provide a solution that enables all of the above. But before it can be widely adopted, factors such as people, legality, business, culture and more will need to be well aligned. In 2019, we will see more innovators experimenting with blockchain use cases that demonstrate many of the blockchain data protection benefits,” said Rajendran.

Following allegations of nation-states targeting the supply chain at the chip level to embed backdoors into both business to business and consumer technologies, organisations will embrace blockchain to secure their supply chains. “The distributed nature of blockchain makes it well suited to validate every step in the supply chain,” said Jeffrey Kok, VP Solution Engineers, Asia Pacific and Japan at CyberArk.

“As organisations are always looking to streamline processes, save costs while at the same time provide reliable and user-friendly services, they will begin to transform and adopt innovative solutions, such as blockchain, data science and predictive analytics,” said Bertrand Saillet, Managing Director, Asia, FCM Travel Solutions.

OTHER PREDICTIONS

Data Science: Ben Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, Experian Asia Pacific, says that in 2019, we will continue to see the emergence of data science and our reliance on it. With volumes of data growing exponentially, there will continue to be greater value placed on the capabilities within data analytics fields, across industries and organisations.

The value of consumer consent will also continue to be a key focus area in 2019. We will see an increasing emphasis on regulations to protect consumer data, ensuring businesses are extracting and using information transparently and securely. Businesses and industries will need to keep up with data security measures, while still enabling meaningful consumer experiences.

“Looking beyond 2019, the secure and seamless management of data will continue to be honed as a skill across industries. We will see more companies investing in talent or third-party partners that can support in managing and analysing these growing volumes of data, while mitigating the risks associated with it,” said Elliot.

Edge Computing: Robert Yang, Vice President, Asia Pacific Sales, Seagate Technology, says that Edge Computing is set for massive deployment in 2019, as Asia is expected to roll out 5G services enabling huge volumes of data to be processed and transmitted with minimal delay. According to IDC’s Data Age 2025 study sponsored by Seagate, almost one-quarter of all data will be created at the Edge by 2025.

“Improving data security will also be a huge opportunity for organisations, given this rapid growth at the Edge will increase their surface area to security breaches. Companies should view security holistically, from endpoint security to data-at-rest, to ensure they serve their customers effectively,” said Yang.

“As digital use cases mature across industries in APAC, edge computing is expected to play a major part in the new model where IoT and intelligence are seen to become even more interdependent,” said Anneliese Schulz, Vice President, Software AG Asia.

As enterprises expand internationally, Edge Computing solutions will become an even more sought-after solution to deliver, support and manage compute resources on premises, according to Boon Hock Goh, Senior Director, Solution Design, Network Services, APAC, NTT Communications.

SD-WAN: In 2019, more enterprises will leverage software-defined networking in a wide area network (WAN) and Network functions virtualization (NFV) services to simplify branch offices and increase agility and user-experience.

“As businesses go more global than ever before, SD-WAN becomes the umbrella enabler that brings together these technologies and addresses concerns. Despite security remaining a concern, the proliferation of edge computing, public cloud, IoT, NFV and universal customer premises equipment (CPE) will intensify the need for SD-WAN even further in 2019,” said NTT’s Boon.

Open Technology: There is a growing trend for an open technology strategy with an aim to take advantage of standardization to integrate and interconnect over time; position simplicity, agility and flexibility - both technical and commercial – on the center-stage; and focus on creating new business sources rather than reducing cost, according to NTT’s Boon.

DevOps: DevOps is expected to become mainstream as enterprises in the region realise how this can drive the required agility for change and innovation, according to Software AG’s Schulz.

Big Data: Lim Fang How, Regional Director – Southeast Asia, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific says that businesses have discussed for year the value of “Big Data”, but in 2019 we will see enterprises prioritise “small actionable data”; this refers to insights specific to use cases, which are made accessible naturally within an employee’s workflow. This means that data capture will need to be integrated with analytics that offer directional and actionable insights for real-time decision making.

Smart Cities: “The cities we live in are getting bigger,” said Vish Iyer, Vice President, Cisco Architectures, APJC, Cisco. “This is creating challenges in areas like infrastructure, healthcare, public safety, citizen services etc. and putting a strain on resources like water and energy. Home to 54% of the world’s urban population, these challenges will be pertinent in Asia.”

Digital solutions can help cities tackle these issues, improve the quality of life and become more sustainable; in short - ‘smarter’. Finally, governments can use technology to deliver enhanced citizen services at lower costs and meet the growing expectations of citizens around increased transparency, less bureaucracy and faster decision making.

“Cities across the world have started to look into this and we expect the trend to gain further momentum in 2019,” said Iyer.

Reskilling: Manish Bahl, Associate Vice President, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant said that in 2019, we will witness reskilling and ultimately learning emerging as a top priority for executives sitting at the top. Skills such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, or crisis response, will begin sweeping across the industry and become starkly evident in newer job postings.