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The ABC of 2019: AI, Blockchain & Cloud

AI, Blockchain, Cloud and more – we couldn’t escape them in 2018 and 2019 is set to be no different.

However, when you strip away the clickbait, there are plenty of important developments for businesses to keep a watchful eye on. We hear from five industry experts who predict the most important tech trends for 2019.

A is for Artificial Intelligence:

It’s here to stay, but we must learn from our mistakes

“AI will become the new business utility and it will quickly seem inconceivable for any company to go without it. Until now, AI has mostly lived in the cloud because of the space it needs in terms of memory storage, but that’s quickly changing. In 2019, that intelligence and capability will become available at the digital edge, inside devices, decreasing the latencies associated with using the cloud. In turn, this will have a big impact on the face of distributed networks and make AI usage as ubiquitous as smartphones and email are today.

However, as the promise of AI starts to be realised, it’s important we learn rather than simply repeat the past, remembering the importance of disrupting and eradicating previous biases. The tech industry is really embracing diversity at the moment and while there’s still a long way to go, it’s important that we don’t simply mirror past patterns but teach it to embrace diversity and the rapidly evolving business culture in which we’re working and living.”

Fabio Moioli, Head of Consulting & Services, Microsoft Italy

B is for Blockchain:

Blockchain set to hit peak hype

“In 2019, we’ll see blockchain touted as the solution to everything from land registry to lightbulb registration. These won’t materialise, but we will start to see the emergence of really solid business cases. This will see some of the world’s largest businesses leveraging the technology to execute contracts without lawyers, simplify records management and facilitate secure cross-border payments.

While the ubiquity of blockchain predicted by so many during Bitcoin’s peak simply won’t happen, the role of the technology will become clearer. However, as this happens, 2019 could represent a painful incubation period for investors, as blockchain features in every business case – whether it’s the right solution or not.

One of the more interesting applications in the last year has been that of Porsche. In partnership with Berlin-based start-up XAIN, the company became the first automobile manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in a car. It used the technology for applications such as locking and unlocking a vehicle via an app, temporary access authorisations and new business models based on encrypted data logging.

In an industry which is being massively disrupted by decentralised ownership models, the technology is also making it possible to assign temporary access authorisations for vehicles in a more secure and efficient manner. Here, blockchain is enabling the disruption, not causing it and this is something to be embraced in 2019 as every business starts to look beyond the hype.”

Quentyn Taylor, Director of Information Security, Canon Europe

Here, blockchain is enabling the disruption, not causing it…

Blockchain-powered smart contract applications will surge

“Until now, much of the hype around blockchain has been limited to the rise and fall of the price of Bitcoin. In 2019 though, the technology is set to move beyond ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and cryptocurrencies and start to deliver genuine business value in the form of smart contracts. In the coming year, smart contracts will eliminate the need for (and fees of) intermediaries and allow everyday transactions to run smoothly. They add a layer of business logic by enabling organisations to genuinely leverage blockchain productively and in ways that improve workflows and process fulfilment. This might mean introducing the technology to ordering, invoicing or payment processes – any transactions that involve people and data. As the regulations and security behind these smart contracts grow stronger in 2019, their adoption will increase.

In turn, this will see businesses increasingly becoming Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAO), a model which aims to create complete transparency. A DAO is essentially an organisation whose operating procedures and protocols are enforced automatically by coding them into a computer programme.

Leveraging the same organisational principal that governs the Bitcoin blockchain network, DAOs will operate by pre-programming complex rules which define how the business will run, such as when and how much budget to set aside for a project. Today these businesses are few and far between but in 2019, that will start to change.”

Antonio Grasso, Founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation Srl,

A worm’s eye view of orange and white architecture
“The hybrid cloud is evolving…”

C is for Cloud:

Intelligent cloud computing at the intelligent edge

“The future isn’t cloud and edge computing. That is our present. The future is the intelligent edge and the intelligent cloud. In other words, having intelligence at our fingertips. The interconnected Internet of Things, complete with smart sensors and connected devices, is transforming offices, factories, cities and homes alike. Simultaneously, the hybrid cloud is evolving from being the integration of a data centre with the public cloud, to becoming units of computing available at even the world’s most remote destinations, working in connection with the public cloud.

Powered by AI, the convergence of these two trends is set to shake up 2019 and usher in an era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. These make it possible to provide consistent power to critical institutions like hospitals and schools and manage precious resources like energy, food and water, as well as create devices to help people with disabilities or diseases live more comfortably and connect with loved ones.”

Patrick Bischoff, Senior Manager Strategy, Canon Europe

D is for Decentralisation:

The changing face of service provision and the rise of operating power

“Businesses are used to operating ‘as-a-service’ models, provisioning everything from software to infrastructure in this way. In recent years we’ve also seen this model shake up consumer services, with subscription models changing the way we consume media and even go on holiday. In 2019, the proliferation of an IoT-led economy will see this start to overhaul even the most traditional industries, with decentralised ownership models starting to impact industries like automotive. This will have a considerable impact on the way in which consumers engage with brands because manufacturers will start to become indistinguishable from each other. Instead, points of differentiation will come from operators and based on service provision.

Mobile network operators have a big part to play here, as the 4G and 5G networks make smart ‘things’ smarter. It means that services can be provisioned to people on whatever device they’re using, whether it’s a phone, fridge or car. The knock-on effect here is huge. As these models reach mainstream adoption, we’ll start to see them impact the delivery of advertising and retail as businesses begin to provision their services natively on completely different platforms.”

Wilko Wolters, Co-founder, d2twelve Strategy Consultants

Services can be provisioned to people on whatever device they’re using

E is for Experimental Hackers

A new look security landscape and attacks on vulnerable end points

“For security professionals, the developments of the connected economy represent a whole new landscape to navigate in 2019. As hackers and cybercriminals explore the opportunities of ubiquitous connectivity, increased services and interconnection of industries means we should always be asking: what network should business IoT devices sit on? What information does this consumer device really need to access about me? What controls need to be in place? What’s the worst that can happen?

We’ll certainly start to see more and more non-traditional devices hacked as connected devices are installed into offices and working environments everywhere but are omitted from security policies. Smart fridges, connected printers and IoT-powered cars all represent hacking opportunities, and unless they’re built in to wider enterprise security policies they can represent potential weakness.

As these devices become more and more popular in offices across Europe, at least one high profile business will fall foul of experimental hackers looking for new and insecure end points. The old saying goes that ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ and all the firewalls in the world won’t prevent an attack on your infrastructure if your office has an unprotected printer, fridge or thermostat.”

Quentyn Taylor, Director of Information Security, Canon Europe

Antonio Grasso, Quentyn Taylor, Fabio Moioli, Patrick Bischoff, Wilko Walters.

About our experts:

Patrick Bischoff, Senior Manager Strategy, Canon Europe

Patrick believes in the value of information and imaging, which enable companies to achieve better business. He applies Canon’s heritage in imaging technologies and knowledge management to bring value to customers as they take the next step in digital. Patrick is key in coordinating strategy development and planning, executing business expansion and M&A orientation. He also works with analysts and the leadership team of the Solution & Services Business Unit of Canon EMEA.

Antonio Grasso, Founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation Srl,

Antonio has engaged Digital Innovation projects for Public Sector and Private Companies since 2001. He is the founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation Srl, an innovative start-up recognised by Italian Law 179/2012 and active in the Research & Development of digital innovation projects for small and medium businesses. He closely watches developments in IoT and is trying to design an innovative framework in the cloud that can manage IoT device communication using RESTful architecture. Any contribution at this stage is welcome.

Fabio Moioli, Head of Consulting & Services, Microsoft Italy

Fabio is the country manager for Microsoft Consulting & Services in Italy, which he joined in April 2016 and has since led a profound business transformation, centred on Artificial Intelligence and Data-driven business models. As a result, his team won the EMEA Award for Digital Transformation for two consecutive years

Before arriving in Microsoft, Fabio was Vice President at Capgemini, where he led Capgemini Digital and M2M. In addition, he was part of Capgemini Global Experts on Artificial Intelligence and IoT. Previously an Associate at McKinsey & Co, he mainly worked on Business Digital Transformations and began his professional career at Ericsson as an Account Executive and Project Manager for 16 different markets over three different continents.

Fabio has an Engineering Degree in Information Technology from Milan and a Telecommunications Engineering degree from Stockholm, as well as several professional certifications. He worked for several years in Scandinavia, North & Central Europe, United States and Canada.

Quentyn Taylor, Director of Information Security, Canon Europe

As Head of Security for Canon EMEA, Quentyn has built the division from an IT security team, to covering the entire information security needs of the company. A results-focused leader, he helps the business use security as a competitive advantage in both product solution design and development. One of the key tasks in this is to make Canon a “thought Leader” in information security by educating both customers and the industry in print/document security. Quentyn is regarded as a key security commentator and is regularly quoted and published in industry publications as well as the mainstream media.

Wilko Wolters, Founder, d2twelve Strategy Consultants

Wilko is a digital strategist and co-founder of the d2twelve Strategy Consultants who helps large corporations as well as SMEs defining their digital strategies, transforming business and monetizing digital business ideas. Before starting his own business together with a partner, Wilko worked as a consultant for strategy consultancies in the automotive and high-tech sector. Ten years ago, he took over the first digitisation projects in the field of automotive retail. Wilko is passionate about people and technology – digital transformation opens up endless possibilities for further developing both!

Written by Anna Shaw

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