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Gartner: Quantum computing, software delivery and more digital disruptions to look out for

News Analysis
Oct 23, 20187 mins
Cloud ComputingEnterprise Applications

Preparing its IT customers for big business changes, Gartner warns on a of a number of technologies – quantum computing, artificial intelligence and software delivery among them – that could shift the business of business.

businesswoman with binoculars in sunflower field vision future predictions
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There are a number of emerging technologies IT professionals should pay attention to because they could bolster or derail current business processes.

Preparing its IT customers for such changes has always been a promisee of the annual Gartner Symposium/IT Expo, and this year found the research group issuing warnings about quantum computing, artificial intelligence, software delivery and others that could fundamentally shift the business of business.

“The virtual nature of digital disruptions makes them much more difficult to deal with than past technology-triggered disruptions,” Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, told the conference audience last week. CIOs must work with their business peers to pre-empt digital disruption by becoming experts at recognizing, prioritizing and responding to early indicators.”

Quantum computing is coming fast

One of the top potential disruptive technologies in the next five years or so will be the use of quantum computing or quantum computing services to solve difficult problems and offer new applications.

Gartner said the parallel execution and exponential scalability of quantum computers means they excel with problems too complex for a traditional approach or where a traditional algorithms would take too long to find a solution. Industries such as automotive, financial, insurance, pharmaceuticals, military and research have the most to gain from the advancements in quantum computing.

“Learn while the technology is still in the emerging state,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “Identify real-world problems where QC has potential and consider the possible impact on security.”

According to Gartner potential new applications include:

  • Machine learning: Improved ML through faster structured prediction.
  • Artificial intelligence: Faster calculations could improve perception, comprehension, self-awareness and circuit fault diagnosis/binary classifiers.
  • Finance: Quantum computing could enable faster, more complex simulations, for example, trading, trajectory optimization, market instability, price optimization and hedging strategies.
  • Healthcare: DNA gene sequencing, such as radiotherapy treatment optimization/brain tumor detection, could be performed in seconds instead of hours or weeks.
  • Computer science: Faster multidimensional search functions, for example, query optimization, mathematics and simulations.

Quantum computers have the potential to run massive amounts of calculations in parallel in seconds, Plummer said. This potential for compute acceleration, as well as the ability to address difficult and complex problems, is what is driving so much interest from CEOs and CIOs in a variety of industries.

“But don’t believe the hype that it will revolutionize things in the next few years. Most organizations should learn about and monitor QC through 2022 and perhaps exploit it from 2023 or 2025,” Cearley said. Gartner recommends getting ahead of the curve by leveraging QCaaS, GitHub tools and SDKs.

Software-distribution revolution

Software procurement and acquisition is undergoing a fundamental shift. The way in which software is located, bought and updated is now in the province of the software distribution marketplace.

With the continued growth of cloud platforms from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, IBM and others, as well as the ever-increasing introduction of cloud-oriented products and services, the role of marketplaces for selling and buying is gathering steam. Cloud platform providers realize that they must remove as much friction as possible in the buying and owning processes for both their own offerings and the offerings of their independent software vendors.

“Establishing one’s own marketplace or participating as a provider in a third-party marketplace is a route to market that is becoming increasingly popular. Distributors and other third parties also see the opportunity to create strong ecosystems (and customer bases) while driving efficiencies for partners and technology service providers,” said Plummer.

Other possible digital disruptors Gartner says CIOs should be aware of include:

Swarm intelligence: Swarm intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. A swarm consists of small computing elements (either physical entities or software agents) that follow simple rules for coordinating their activities. Such elements can be replicated quickly and inexpensively. Thus, a swarm can be scaled up and down easily as needs change. CIOs should start exploring the concept to scale management, especially in digital business scenarios.

Real-time language translation: Devices such as translation earbuds and voice and text translation services can perform translation in real-time, breaking down language barriers with friends, family, clients and colleagues. This technology could not only disrupt intercultural language barriers, but also language translators as this role may no longer be needed. CIOs should equip employees in international jobs with experimental real-time translators to pilot streamlined communication, Plummer said.

Nanotechnology: The implications of this technology is that the creation of solutions involves individual atoms and molecules. Nanotech is used to create new effects in materials science, such as self-healing materials. Applications in medicine, electronics, security and manufacturing herald a world of small solutions that fill in the gaps in the macroverse in which we live.

 “When we consider applications that begin to allow things like 3D printing at nanoscale, then it becomes possible to advance the cause of printed organic materials and even human tissue that is generated from individual stem cells. 3D bioprinting has shown promise, and nanotech is helping deliver on it,”  Plummer said.   

Human-machine interfaces: Human-machine interfaces (HMI) give providers the opportunity to differentiate with innovative, multimodal experiences. People living with disabilities benefit from HMIs that are being adapted to their needs, including some already in use within organizations of all types. These technologies will work so well that they will give some of these people “superabilities” beyond what a healthy person has. This could spur people without disabilities to employ the same technology in order to keep up.

Smartphone disintermediation: The use of devices such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs), smartwatches and other wearables, may mean a shift in how people continue to use the smartphone. CIOs and IT leaders should use wearability of a technology as a guiding principle and investigate and pilot wearable solutions to improve worker effectiveness, increase safety, enhance customer experiences and improve employee satisfaction.

“Smartphones are, today, critical for connections and media consumption. However, over time they will become less visible as they stay in pockets and backpacks. Instead, consumers will use a combination of voice-input and VPA technologies and other wearable devices to navigate a store or public space such as an airport or stadium without walking down the street with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen,” Plummer said.

Although Gartner did not classify it as a digital disruptor, artificial intelligence was also a topic that analysts were hot on. Gartner wrote that through 2020, 80 percent of AI projects will remain alchemy, run by wizards whose talents won’t scale widely in the organization.

Gartner said that in the last five years, the increasing popularity of AI techniques has facilitated the proliferation of projects across a wide number of organizations worldwide. However, change is still outpacing the production of competent AI professionals.

When it comes to AI techniques, the needed talent is technically demanding, requiring mathematically savvy data scientists, inventive data engineers, rigorous operation-research professionals and shrewd logisticians.

“The large majority of existing AI technique talents are skilled at cooking a few ingredients, but very few are competent enough to master a few recipes — let alone invent new dishes,” said Plummer. “Through 2020, a large majority of AI projects will remain craftily prepared in artisan IT kitchens. The premises of a more systematic and effective production will come when organizations stop treating AI as an exotic cuisine and start focusing on business value first.”