I am fortunate in my role to have the opportunity of speaking with some of the best Chief Information, Technology, Security and Digital Officers in our region – many of whom are trailblazers leading the charge to redefine their businesses and industries during a time of unprecedented change.
Many of the conversations I have revolve around how they can use technology to do amazing things that we could barely imagine only a few years ago. As the new year kicks off, I am particularly excited to see how quickly things will start to come together as 2018 is already shaping up to be a year in which technology will have a bigger impact than ever before.
For 30 years connectivity has been at the heart of everything we do at Cisco – connecting people and devices securely, reliably, and with the highest levels of performance. But today, being connected is a given and has become the new normal.
In 2018, we’re taking this to the next level by helping businesses and organizations get even more value out of all this connectivity. So, they can connect even more deeply with their data, their network, their customers and prospects, and with smart assistants and using any cloud of their choice – private or public.
As we look towards a new year with all of the opportunities its presents, here are the top five technology trends that digital leaders should invest in for 2018:
1. Put your data to work
Organizations are now collecting more data in a matter of days than a human brain could possibly process in a lifetime (or even several). We’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather and analyze data from everywhere - with the goal of helping us make smarter decisions.
We already see this trend in action. Hospitals can track if doctors and nurses wash their hands at the right times. Banks can find and fix issues with their mobile apps before users have to call in. Museums can see which attractions people visit most frequently. The list goes on. In 2018, we expect to see many more examples of human imagination pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
2. Re-invent how networks work
For 30 years, networks have worked pretty much the same way, requiring an IT army to manage network settings manually. But this is the year it all changes. We’re moving away from manual, and we’re shifting to intent.
Think of the network as a car. Until now, someone had to drive. But an intent-based network is a self-driving car. You tell it where to go, and it gets there by itself. Let’s say you tell your network to “Set up a new building site.” The network will automatically set up the machines and connect them in the right way. And it will do this securely in milliseconds, rather than the hours it takes to do it manually.
3. Automate your virtual assistant
In the present-day world, we need to prompt virtual assistants to provide us with the information we seek. The underlying requirement being we have to ask for the information. But it doesn’t have to work this way. In 2018, virtual assistants will be smart enough to figure out what we need—before we tell them.
Picture this: You walk into a smart meeting room big enough for six people. The room can tell from your phone that you have arrived. Behind the scenes, the video conference tool talks to your calendar, sees you have a meeting in two minutes, and starts the call on time. The room also notices that you are the only one here, so it raises the temperature by a few degrees to keep you comfortable.
This is the power of automated assistants - when all of your tools are able to talk together in the background to make the right things happen at the right time. It may sound somewhat sci-fi, but this is already a reality. And it will be even more widespread in 2018.
4. Embrace all the clouds
It’s no longer about a journey to the cloud, singular. It’s about putting your data and applications where they work best, and moving them around at will - all whilst keeping everything secure.
2018 will be the year you get to store data wherever you would like, and without compromise.
Adopt a private cloud in your data center. Pick public clouds from Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Or use all of the above. The more the merrier. Because your data will be secured, managed, and orchestrated effectively—whether you’re using one cloud or one hundred.
5. Embed security in everything
In 2018, we will be able to embed security in everything we do. We will be able to watch how people or things behave, learn their patterns, and get alerts if something changes. Imagine an employee named Pam. Every day, Pam checks her email, uses video conferencing, and goes to certain websites. But then one day, Pam tries to upload files to a server she hasn’t used in two years. That’s odd. It could mean that Pam plans to leave the company. And it looks like she wants to take some of the data with her.
With security embedded in everything, our systems would notice this change in behavior right away. And they could automatically block Pam—and issue an alert. This helps identify security issues before they happen. Or at least respond to breaches more quickly.
A parting thought
Remember, these trends are connected. The companies who thrive in the digital era are the ones who master all five. So, don’t think of them as separate trends. They are a digital platform and a foundation for everything you do. Have a transformative 2018!
Written By David Meads, Vice President – Middle East & Africa, Cisco