Moshe Kranc, chief technology officer at Ness Digital Engineering, worked with his team to identify macro trends and specific technologies that will be game-changers in 2019. Their prediction: Newer technologies like blockchain and machine learning will make inroads, familiar solutions like the cloud and big data will solidify their standing, and cyber threats will continue to bedevil corporations.
Here, Kranc discusses the specific impacts these trends will have on enterprise IT managers.
1. 2019 will be a breakthrough year for machine learning
“Machine learning is real,” Kranc says. “A number of things on the hype curve are not yet ready for prime time, but machine learning is, and there are a lot of applications for it. I think we’re just at the beginning of figuring out all the ways to use it, and there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the algorithms themselves.”
Some applications of machine learning, such as chatbots, are already being delivered as off-the-shelf solutions. However, Kranc says that more complicated use cases – such as algorithms that read radiology images or predict which customers are most likely to churn – will require enterprises to seek out scarce talent or work with external partners.
2. Big data becomes just plain data
“If you were holding back on exploring a big data platform, there’s probably a green light now,” Kranc says. “If you’ve been holding off because it’s all so unstable and it’s hard to find people and it doesn’t really work, that’s not true anymore.”
Big data platforms have matured, Kranc explains, with the market winnowing down to a smaller number of more stable solutions. At the same time, young people entering the workforce are bringing knowledge about big data with them to their first jobs. “They come out of school knowing Spark and Spark Streaming,” Kranc says. “You’re going to be able to find the talent now.”
3. Blockchain gains modest traction in the enterprise
After a period of excessive hype, Kranc says, blockchain will be “reduced to its proper proportions.”
“I saw it being used in a lot of inappropriate use cases, just because it was the cool thing to use, when it was at the height of the hype curve,” Kranc says.
Blockchain makes the most sense, Kranc says, for use cases in distributed – but controlled – environments, and where throughput needs aren’t too high. “Let’s say you’re Walmart, and all your suppliers want to work with you,” he says. “You can force them to use your blockchain registry to keep track of what was ordered, and what was shipped, and whether they were paid or not. If you have control over the marketplace, then blockchain can make sense.”
4. Digital transformation becomes table stakes
“Your competitor probably has embraced digital transformation, and is probably reaping benefits from it,” Kranc says. “And so, if you’ve been a laggard, you’re going to have to catch up. That means creating an experience where your external users have a transparent view of what’s going on, like, ‘Where is my product?’ in your shipping cycle. And digital transformation also happens internally. If I order some office supplies or a training program, your employees also want to be able to keep track of where it is. Making things transparent, both internally and externally … you can’t avoid it anymore. If you’ve been a laggard, you’re paying a heavy price at this point.”
5. Cyber security continues to spring leaks
“You have to recognize that security a losing battle,” Kranc says. “There are more IQ points and more brains working to hack your environment than you have working to protect it. And, IoT is going to make it worse, because IoT systems are a step backwards in terms of sophistication and protection. They’re much more primitive systems, and therefore they’re that much more vulnerable to attack.”
Enterprises, Kranc suggests, should invest in external penetration testing to assess their existing security measures. “I’ve seen too many companies that think they have it under control,” he says. “You set it up, so of course you’re not going to see any flaws that you missed. You need an external set of eyes looking at your system – and genuinely trying to attack it – to understand what your vulnerabilities really are.”
6. Cloud becomes the norm, even for laggards
In the early days of the public cloud, many organizations were hesitant to migrate resources due to security concerns. “More and more, those reasons don’t really ring true,” Kranc says. “It’s becoming something where excuses just won’t work anymore.”
For organizations with completely level workloads, on-premises infrastructure is likely still less expensive, Kranc says. “But if you have peaks – let’s say you’re doing machine learning – during the training phase, you need every CPU in the world for 10 seconds,” he continues, exaggerating for effect. “You can either buy all that, and then have it be idle for the rest of the year, or you can go to the cloud. The cost difference becomes so staggering.”