It's the time of the year, when we see a flood of Nostradamus like predictions start to hit our screens, as the new year looms up on the horizon. So I thought rather than jump on that band wagon, let's take a moment to reflect on last years predictions and see how accurate they really were.
Forbes Tech Council's Tech Predictions for 2019 and Beyond covered a number of areas for their 2019 predictions, including cloud, big data, machine learning/AI, security, IoT, and BlockChain.
Overall they did pretty well with the tip that cloud migration would continue to pick up speed and would include more business critical systems. They also tipped that multi-cloud and hybrid deployment models would increase in popularity facilitated by containerisation and the ability to support real-time data distribution. Pretty much right on the money for Cloud.
Forbes tipped that the arrival of 5G would result in data being generated at even faster speeds, requiring enterprise companies to seriously consider modernising their architecture to work natively with streaming data and in-memory processing. Clearly Forbes weren't specifically taking into account the Australian telecommunication infrastructure. As the year closes out Telstra and Optus have 5G available in limited areas with Vodafone's 5G network planned to come online in 2020 (Canstar Blue). So this one is a little behind schedule.
Their other predictions around big data were the rise in popularity of Lambda and Kappa architectures combining streaming and batch processing and analytics, which would drive ML operationalisation. We have seen Australian players like WooliesX take advantage of such technologies to be able to drive shopper online personalisation that has resulted in strong financial gains in 2019 with a 43% surge in online sales in just 14 weeks.
Forbes also predicted that SQL-based architectures such as SnowFlake and Apache Kudu will become more popular than traditional big data environments. This one was definitely on the money.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
AI and ML remain buzzwords in every marketers toolbox, with huge amounts of hype through 2019. Every man and his dog has some form of "AI" right now. Forbes I think was a little too excited on this one as well. They tipped that AI/ML would become deeply embedded in the business, that Data Scientists would move out of their specialist roles and into more DevOps roles where they would be more hands on and enable more real-time analysis.
At the end of the year we are seeing some impressive capabilities and usage of AI/ML, but these are still the exception in businesses. The majority of the market are still just talking about and trialling various tools, rather than a wide-scale and wide-spread deployment of AI/ML into production environments.
Forbes proposed that cyber threats would shift from many small actors to larger stronger, possibly state-sponsored adversaries, with industrial rather than consumer data being the target. Data available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner from June 2019 has shown an increasing number of notifiable data breaches. The targets include many well known consumer brands as well as a number of universities and government agencies. The Forbes article indicated that the complexity of attacks would rise, however the OAIC shows that human error still accounts for around 1/3 of all data breaches with malicious attacks making up around 62%, it seems that cybersecurity will remain a big issue in 2020 as we struggle to manage even the simple stuff.
Internet of Things
IoT continued to grow in 2019, with smart devices touching many points in our personal and business lives. In addition to IoT devices, with the continued developments of the other areas of technology discussed above, we will be able to process and act upon more and more of the information that IoT is providing. This is an area that I think we will see significant growth in 2020 as cloud, AI/ML and big data come together and drive significant change.
Forbes' tip for Blockchain was that its use would become more widespread and we would see significant improvement in processing of digital ledger transactions. In May 2019, the Australian Computer Society released their Blockchain Whitepaper which highlighted how Blockchain has failed to get widespread acceptance outside cryptocurrency use cases in Australia. Interestingly, investment in Blockchain has continued to grow from $1.9M in 2012 to $7.6B in November 2018. Maybe 2020 will finally be the year for Blockchain?
Overall Forbes have done fairly well with their 2019 predictions, but let's see where 2020 takes us.
Have a great Christmas break and see you all in 2020.