New digital platforms to become the foundation for IT

AI and transparent immersive experiences are among the trends that will require shifting from traditional tech infrastructure to ‘ecosystem-enabling platforms.’

New digital platforms to become the foundation for IT
Nest Labs

The future of business will include artificial intelligence (AI) in every nook and cranny, along with transparent, immersive experiences and entirely new digital platforms, according to consulting firm Gartner.

Digital business will be driven by those three megatrends over the next five to 10 years, it says.

That's because a kind of joining between humans and technology is going to replace the static-like tech we’re used to. The new combination will be enabled by revolutionary amounts of data, better computing power and ubiquitous ecosystems.

+ Also on Network World: Gartner Top 10 technology trends you should know for 2017 +

Importantly, to get there, new digital “ecosystem-enabling” platforms will have to replace traditional “compartmentalized technical infrastructure.”

That ecosystem-enabling digital platform term loosely refers to tech infrastructure that includes algorithms and delivers applications that can be rapidly developed. Developing a platform on top of another platform to speed instigation of a new business model, for example, would count, too.

Software as a service, where hosting and management is outsourced, is an example of an existing platform. Adding the term "ecosystem" allows for an expandable platform descriptor. Gartner-competing consulting firm Accenture uses heating control maker Nest as an example of it. Nest’s one-product thermostat has developed over time into a multiple-Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem with diverse partners that include car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, for example. Consumers supposedly benefit from the dynamics.

Transparent immersive experiences and AI will grow through new types of platforms, kicked in by developing tech such as wireless 5G networks; Digital Twin, which is a digital representation of a physical object; edge computing, where processing such as running analytics takes place at the source of the data rather than a central data center; Blockchain; IoT; neuromorphic hardware, which is where machines are built by copying biological architectures; quantum computing; serverless platform as a service; and software-defined security, Gartner says.

“Digital platforms are rapidly moving up the Hype Cycle,” Gartner says in a press release about the report, which analyzed tech trend hype versus commercial viability. By "hype cycle," it means that some digital platforms have moved beyond simply being innovative and creating expectations and are actually enabling technologies. Blockchain, the encrypted distributed ledger, is one example. It has potential for securing music, IoT and banking and is not simply a cryptocurrency anymore.

Business models that combine humans and technology

Overall, Gartner says there is a shift underway towards human and technology combined business models. “Smart workspace, connected home, augmented reality, virtual reality and the growing brain-computer interface” are examples it uses. It sees those models as being part of transparently immersive experiences and AI, with classic IT-abandoning digital platforms that provide the business and tech mechanics.

“This relationship will become much more entwined as the evolution of technology becomes more adaptive, contextual and fluid,” Gartner says.

It also says 4D printing, (3D additive manufacturing with a transformation over time, such as assembly), and volumetric displays (visual representations in 3D) will be among the technologies that play in this upcoming human-centric technology arena.

“Technology will continue to become more human-centric to the point where it will introduce transparency between people, businesses and things,” Gartner says.

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