Trends and Challenges of Top Tech in 2020

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In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new technologies are evolving at a rapid rate. Through these advancements, companies and organizations can develop solutions to solve common problems in their industry and everyday operations.

By understanding current trends and challenges in tech, users can better identify digital opportunities that would be most beneficial to their needs, improving overall operations and productivity, strengthening support for customers and employees, and creating a more positive impact in the world.

5G

5G isn’t just for the latest smartphone technologies. As network connectivity continues to grow in the coming year, it will not only improve interpersonal communications, but the platform will enhance broadband capacity within industrial applications and expand support to control machines and other devices.

Network innovation will be integral to a vast range of industries, from retail and transportation to healthcare and manufacturing. By increasing speed and bandwidth and keeping latency low, 5G promises greater productivity and efficiency in the workplace, meaning more effective supply chain management for manufacturers of consumer goods, higher quality driver-assistance systems for automotive developers, increased virtual doctor visits and patient engagement in the healthcare industry, and improved infrastructure connectivity in city planning.

As 5G expands this year, connectivity reaction time will drop to 1 millisecond. That’s 200 to 300 times less that the response of a human brain.

Real-time reaction will improve machining in industrial automation, enrich AR and VR, and encourage the evolution of newer technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and remote robotic surgery.

This new unified network will cost more upfront in development, but the objective is to lower the data cost compared to 4G LTE by leveraging the new spectrum in higher bands. Building the 5G platform for high speed networks and the industrial space will also present other challenges moving forward. New millimeter wave technology is needed to boost the range and power of signals, along with updated hardware and equipment. Carriers will also have to substantially upgrade their security to protect businesses and consumers from hackers attempting to steal data and/or spy on users through real-time tracking and surveillance.

Cloud Computing

Cloud infrastructures give companies and organizations the ability to leave more mundane data storage tasks to reliable providers in order to focus on everyday operations and innovation.

Over the past decade, Amazon Web Services has grown into a $50B giant with no sign of stopping, becoming the world’s leading cloud platform, with competitors Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform trailing closely behind.

For numerous industries, this past year saw great growth in consolidated cloud management, as well as multi-cloud or hybrid, public and private, cloud environments. Examples of this include utilizing more than one cloud platform provider or using separate clouds for different activities or workloads, such as developing an external public cloud for data analytics and a secondary private cloud for internal development. These areas of cloud computing will continue to expand in 2020, as will the use of containerization to develop and deploy applications efficiently.

Some have argued that the cloud technologies industry will shrink as 5G becomes more stable transmitting large quantities of data. However, the demand for big data in industry is large and 5G will not be able to manage that data completely free of the storage capabilities of cloud tech, especially considering the fact that 5G works mostly with local data, while cloud tech can work in areas of big data with large data sets.

One of the biggest challenges these platforms face is security. 91% of cloud service providers do not encrypt at-rest data, which presents a security risk when public cloud platforms experience a data breach. It is for this reason that cloud providers will continue to acquire third-party digital security tools and work towards encryption regulation goals in the coming year to help keep customer data safe.

Artificial Intelligence

By 2030, Forbes estimates a $15.7 trillion boost in the global economy due to AI technologies.

With so much of the world informed by data-driven decisions, it can often be challenging to start the process of digitalization due to the lack of useful historical information. Through the maturation of AI technologies in the coming years, companies and organizations will be able to create more accurate real-world simulations of their operations and achieve more reliable results in the testing phase of integration. These simulations provide intelligence to ensure a seamless technological transition.

Industrial settings, especially, have been at the forefront of research and innovation in the field of AI since its inception, due to the positive impact this technology has on real-world challenges.

From supply chain management in consumer goods and asset health monitoring in factories to edge capabilities for autonomous vehicles and patient health record analysis for medical research, AI will continue to enable and inform analytics in 2020. By examining operations and offering actionable intelligence, AI-powered analytics bring value and impact to countless industries through predictive algorithms. This means effective and streamlined operations, safer working conditions, and more cost-conscious and eco-friendly business practices. With this growth in AI, deep learning and neural network architectures will also see expansion in the coming year.

The automation of cybersecurity through AI and machine learning algorithms should make a bigger splash this year. AI can easily scan for and identify potential cyber threats, protecting digital assets before a significant attack occurs. With data breaches becoming more prevalent with each passing day, it is essential to keep up with the latest in security in order to prevent damage to digital infrastructures and reputations.

Robotic process automation is also gaining in popularity. AI-robots and digital assistants have been overseeing more than just mundane tasks recently. From manufacturing floors and company call centers to hospitals and agricultural settings, semi-skilled programmable robots are keeping up with more challenging responsibilities, such as assisting with customer service, developing business reports, assisting with elderly and patient care, harvesting crops, and more.

Many worry that AI and AI-powered robots, will supersede human workers. However, developers believe the purpose of AI is to work alongside humans to ensure everyday operations run smoothly and make human jobs easier, allowing humans to focus on more complex work. Not only this, but keeping a human-in-the-loop is necessary in order to apply the needed domain knowledge to validate AI models and shape the functions and processes of AI-driven technologies and robots to make them smarter.

Explainable AI continues to intrigue those wanting greater transparency and accountability. The coming year will see more research and exploration into how AI technologies make decisions.

Another challenge facing the field stems from this past year’s increase in AI usage for government and police surveillance. Hong Kong made headlines for its abuse of facial recognition technologies, news of the Clearview AI scandal continues to top the news feed, and Amazon has been in hot water for licensing their Rekognition software to law enforcement for facial analysis searches against government databases. Civil liberties groups in the U.S. have already called for a ban on the use of this tech by federal agencies, as applying AI in this arena is thought by many to be not only a privacy issue, but also a scary human rights violation due to the unfortunate, yet prevalent racial, gender, and ideological biases in AI algorithms which stem from bad data. The use of tech in law enforcement and government will continue to be controversial and widely debated in the coming years.

Cybersecurity

One of the most common themes amongst all enabling technology is security. Cybercrimes account for trillions of dollars in damages and, according to Fortune magazine, it is estimated that global spending on cybersecurity in 2020 will be well over $101.6 billion.

Spam emails. Hybrid threat actors. Disinformation campaigns. Deepfake abuse. These kinds of cybercrimes have been known to wreak havoc in our world, from stealing personal information and financial data to influencing elections and the stock market. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated in their attacks, it essential to understand the latest digital hazards and techniques for protecting assets in cyberspace.

Newer tools and capabilities, such as AI monitoring, system automation for vulnerable tasks, and deep learning security algorithms, will continue to be key offensive tactics in the coming year for those wanting to guard their infrastructure.

2020 will also see a deficit in available cybersecurity professionals, so it will be incredibly important for companies and organizations to invest in training for existing inexperienced employees in order to prevent and mitigate threats.

Blockchain

Blockchain has gained a reputation in the industry for being a relatively young and sometimes overhyped technology that is still trying to find its place in the tech world.

Since its inception, blockchain has held focus in the cryptocurrency realm. However, with the recent Bitcoin crash and overall economic instability of this market, the future of blockchain seems to be shifting to more practical applications as the technology matures.

With its decentralized ledgers and encrypted peer-to-peer network, blockchain will hold the key to greater cybersecurity for transactions and business operations in 2020.

Automotive manufacturers can trace the supply-chain from the parts stage to the showroom floor for greater transparency. The consumer goods industry can enhance production line operations and guarantee product authenticity. Commercial aircraft maintenance personnel can track when, and by whom, assets and parts were last serviced, giving them the information needed to make repairs, ensure efficiency, and prevent unscheduled groundings.

By implementing blockchain technologies, companies and organizations can revolutionize their potential by acquiring greater visibility over their day-to-day productivity and operations. This visibility helps streamline their process and assure overall efficiency, product quality, worker safety, and data security.

Many continue to face challenges when adopting and developing blockchain technologies, including scalability, cost, speed, and interoperability.

Developers will continue to research and test efforts to address the scalability trilemma in the coming year. Several current scaling solutions include on-chain, off-chain, scalable consensus mechanisms, and distributed ledgers.

In 2020, trends suggest more businesses will partner up to develop joint blockchain pilot projects. These project will allow them to explore and find solutions which foster greater interconnectedness when linking networks and digital assets.

Leaders must also work to clearly define their business model and objectives, i.e. partner-driven, industry-driven, or other, when integrating blockchain into their transformation road map in the coming year. This will ensure the long-term end-to-end success of their solution.

By investing in helpful new technologies and keeping up with the ever-changing digital landscape, companies and organizations in nearly every industry can stay competitive in their field, keep employees and consumers safe and happy, prevent wasted resources, and create a more positive impact in the world.

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