Top 10 Technology Trends with Lasting Impact on the Software Industry – Part 1
23 July 201923 July 2019 | Software Development
Breakthroughs in technology have been disrupting our world with increasing frequency and reach. Some of the new concepts are prone to make a lasting impact on the way we work or live today, while others get unnoticed or fade away quickly. The software industry has seen lately such an abundance of promising new concepts that pinpointing those that are here to stay can overwhelm even the experts in the field.
To decide where to invest, an entrepreneur first needs to determine which of these promising technology trends are likely to last. To give you a head start, we did our best to clear the clutter.
Keep reading to discover our insights into the most promising technology trends that we expect to have a strong and lasting impact on the software industry.
There is consensus in the literature on the 5 technology trends with the strongest and most lasting impact on software development companies.
Artificial Intelligence, distributed ledger technology (e.g. blockchain), immersive technologies, quantum computing, and IoT are present in most rankings that we came across. While for the last 5 in our list there is no consensus in the literature, we consider them equally important in shaping both the digital and post-digital worlds. To choose them, we used our experience and intuition, as well as predictions from prestigious researchers and companies.
We will present our ranking in two separate articles: the first with the top 5 technology trends and the second with places 6 to 10.
This is how our top 5 looks:
- Distributed Ledger Technology
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Extended Reality (XR)
- Quantum Computing
- Internet of Things (IoT)
The first four in the list are also known as DARQ technologies. D stands for distributed ledger technology, A for artificial intelligence, R for extended reality and Q for quantum computing. They are expected to disrupt the software industry landscape in the next years.
1. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
The first technology trend that we expect to make a lasting impact on the software industry is Distributed Ledger Technology.
DLT took the software world by storm a few years ago and is still considered one of the most promising technologies. It enabled the birth of digital currencies like bitcoin and of platforms like Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.
Used mainly in the financial sector, DLT expanded to healthcare, manufacturing, media, and publishing, government and other sectors. Its main advantage is that it eliminates the need for a centralized party (e.g. a bank) to trace a transaction. This can lead to lower costs and transaction settlement times.
Gartner predicts that blockchain, the main DLT, will create $3.1T in business value by 2030. In addition, they consider the immaturity and difficulty of scaling the main deterrents to the quick adoption of pure blockchain models. See here Gartner’s CIO’s guide to Blockchain.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is the second technology that will almost certainly have a great impact on the software industry. It is already present in many software solutions and expected to extend its reach.
We have been reading and hearing about robots and autonomous vehicles lately more than ever. Simple forms of AI have been present in automation and remotely operated systems for decades. More advanced AI systems followed them recently.
Robots that predict and prevent crime in parking lots and outdoor areas and AI assistants like Google Duplex and AliMe are illustrative examples of such advanced systems. The scientific and business communities predict that the complexity of the AI systems will increase with each passing year. So will the spread of AI, which will enhance almost all the household appliances and gadgets.
AI will be required in the analysis of the enormous amounts of data collected in the Web and IoT spaces. Big Data analysis, machine learning and human behavior programming are a few illustrations of the critical fields that depend on AI. Each of us will have a digital identity on the Web, used to develop AI-based algorithms. Using our identities, these algorithms will find trends and predict our digital behavior. Such systems will allow organizations and businesses to deliver personalized and even individualized experiences to meet the expectations of a digitally mature market.
Nearly all computer applications, IoT objects, and services are expected to include AI to make business and personal task easy. Such a spread will require lots of professionals that are well trained in AI, machine learning and data analysis.
3. Extended Reality (XR)
According to the Wikipedia definition, “XR refers to all real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables”. Its most representative forms include Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), which is the combination of VR and AR. This technology trend can create for us new ways of experiencing and engaging with our surroundings.
Statista predicts that the market size of MR worldwide will reach 3.688 Billion USD in 2025.
VR had a difficult start, as hardware was lagging significantly behind the existing software. With the partial elimination of this drawback, the field took off and VR applications for learning, training, and healthcare spawned.
Initially used mainly in the gaming and entertainment industries, VR is now present in complex and important business solutions. Among these are Microsoft’s HoloLens’s mixed reality, used by the US Army for training, and Walmart’s application for employee training in customer compliance and service.
AR integration with smartphone apps quickly raised the popularity of the technology, determining companies to invest in AR applications. These companies also hire AR app developers in large numbers.
Unlike VR solutions, some AR apps do not need hardware with the latest specifications. This does not mean that expensive custom hardware equipment is never needed for AR solutions. Depending on the area of application, the investment in additional equipment ranges from zero to amounts with many digits.
To illustrate the amazing things that AR can do for us, we will summarize three of the seven technologies presented in ThinkIT.
The first is IKEA’s Place app. This solution allows its users to select anything from the store’s catalog and place it to scale anywhere in their house. L’Oréal has a similar mobile app, that allows users to try on various makeups. The app identifies the user’s face and then shows how they look with a specific color or shade of the selected product.
Like VR, AR is used extensively in training in learning. The US Army relies on AR programs to help soldiers distinguish between enemies and friendly troops, as well as improve night vision in combat.
4. Quantum Computing
Quantum computing allows scalable and highly parallel computing. A computer relying on this technology can work at the same time on millions of calculations. Such impressive computational power is critical when processing high volumes of data. The same is true for AI systems that require learning through trial and error like reinforcement learning.
Learning how to run an apparently simple task like avoiding a wall may take a mobile robot equipped with the most powerful classic computers hundreds of times more than one powered by a quantum computer.
Configuring hardware for such learning processes is quite challenging; just go over Tim Dettmers’ blog post to understand why. Fortunately, his ordeal will soon be confined to the past. According to Shelly Fan, the time when we will all use quantum computers like we do smartphones is not far at all. At the beginning of 2019, the Consumer Electronics Show, IBM Q industry initiative unveiled System One, the first integrated universal quantum computing system for commercial use.
With the spread of quantum computers, the AI field and Big Data Analysis will advance at rates we wouldn’t have dared imagine a few years ago. Fully conscious robots and individualized experiences on shopping websites may be already knocking on our doors. It is obvious from our analysis that Quantum Computing is a technology trend that will revolutionize our world.
5. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is the set of machines and devices like household appliances, parts of houses, offices or cars that transmit data to other electronic devices via the internet. Applications for IoT are now present both in the consumer and industrial markets and constantly increase their reach. Humans collect, observe, analyze and act upon the data produced by the IoT world to improve their lives. One well-known example of successful IoT companies is Google Nest, a branch of Google that sells connected devices meant to make homes smarter.
The reasons for which this technology trend took off are manifold. First, the speed of mobile data transmission increased significantly with the move from 2G networks to 3G and 4G. The breathlessly expected 5G technology will largely remove the need for wired connections among devices. Therefore, this development will further accelerate the growth of IoT.
In addition, advances in edge and fog computing made a higher degree of computing possible at the place where the data is captured. This minimized the data processing time by eliminating central data servers from the picture. This achievement expanded the reach of IoT in areas of the defense, healthcare or financial sectors where real-time data transmission is critical.
Blockchain technology is also expected to boost the IoT field when used together with AI and fog computing. Furthermore, combining the power of AI with IoT will open doors to new developments and advances.
Automating or augmenting human actions or data processing with AI, enabling instant communication and data transfers among unrelated systems and devices, applying blockchain to transaction tracing and immersive technologies to learning and training programs will most likely become prerequisites for success in the software industry.
DARQ technologies and IoT will make or break businesses. Those that will quickly adapt and master these technologies will grow fast and dominate their markets. The others will fight for dwindling market shares, disappoint their customers, partners and employees and inevitably shrink or even die.
The fast-paced environment we live in makes it vital for software companies to quickly embrace at least some of the technologies on our list. At the same time, they should get ready to meet the needs of increasingly sophisticated and educated markets.