New age to force big companies into global restructuring

19Dec 2018
Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG
The Guardian
New age to force big companies into global restructuring

A new age is dawning. For big companies, the oncoming era will require new skill sets, technologies, alignments and business models. It will force them to globally reinvent and restructure entire systems of production, management and governance. It will require intelligent transformation.

According to industry analyst IDC, annual spending on digital transformation initiatives in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region is predicted to surpass $38 billion by 2021, accelerated by the large-scale adoption of third-platform technologies such as cloud, big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and Virtual Reality.

Year 2019 will bring an evolution of change. Here are top trends for empowering intelligent transformation as well as how we think large organisations can put themselves in a position to thrive in the new landscape.

Smart IoT: Great products are enough for consumers but large organisations need something more. They need great solutions.

These are complicated times for the enterprise. The feedback we get from large customers deploying our technology is this: the products must naturally be compelling but the ecosystem into which they settle is everything.

It’s no longer enough for tech companies to provide smartphones, laptops, servers, storage and networking products and then step aside. Their value comes in helping their customers pull it all together, in providing a holistic vision of a world that is not only connected but also smart.

Hardware offerings are best when combined with that tech provider’s data and deeper learnings. You might call it Smart IoT.

Companies showing leadership on this front and subscribing to this more sophisticated and broad approach will be the ones leading the intelligent transformation. The rest will be left behind.

Artificial Intelligence: Emerging technologies that leverage AI will, in large part, define the future.

As voice, gesture and movement come to the fore, we’ll see an era of ambient computing emerge. This vision will be defined and enriched by advances in AI, speech recognition, machine learning and cloud computing.

Will computers go away? No. Devices will surely still play a central role in the connected world but it’s safe to say that some aspects of your connected life will go into the ether.

Consider what already exists and what might come next: a voice-driven smart speaker on a kitchen countertop, a Smart Display that acts as a family’s household hub, useful health trackers embedded directly into your body. The sky’s the limit in terms of how we might leverage these new technologies to improve the lives of people.

One good example of a broader application is Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) technology, which helps people manage networks from a single source. This could range from helping companies ward off hackers to helping first responders react more quickly in crisis situations.

Another application is Narrow AI (as opposed to the general AI we see in movies), which enables computers to perform highly specialised tasks extremely well. In health care, an AI solution can help health professionals better detect liver tumours and increase general success rates for cancer diagnoses.

5G: Bet on 5G and other emerging tech to fuel the pace of transformation. Whether or not you know it, the pieces for intelligent transformation are falling into place on a global scale as I type this.

Smart devices are ubiquitous. Infrastructure is in place. Networks are accelerating. 5G connectivity is really what will make all the other trends mentioned here scalable.

If cloud, infrastructure and devices are the connective tissue across which intelligent transformation will play out, a handful of technologies will provide the fuel for that transformation: bet on AI, AR, IoT and 5G to be the fuel that enables new ways of working and accelerates the pace at which this transformation occurs.

5G, which is ten times faster than 4G, deserves special mention for the way it is expected to revolutionise networks. 5G download speeds will transform how people engage with the world overnight. This breakthrough will help mainstream things like driverless cars, smart wearables, gaming, home security and industrial intelligence.

AR & VR: If you think Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are just for gamers, you’re missing the bigger story. The impact of AR and VR on gaming has been well-documented and continues to grab the headlines in the mainstream press. But shrewd observers know that the effect these fast-developing technologies are having on business is nothing short of transformational.

The technology first went mainstream with particular games last year, but actually has far more interesting business use-cases. For example, it has meant developing a tech solution for a Utah-based cancer to help identify melanoma. The solution leverages AR head-mounted displays and AI glasses to better map mole progression.

Meanwhile, AR is also transforming the aviation industry. Through the use of AR glasses, expert airplane mechanics can conduct training sessions remotely, giving step-by-step virtual guidance to less seasoned workers.

In conclusion, for businesses to take advantage of these trends next year and the years after that, they will need to invest in infrastructure that is open yet secure and flexible, while delivering speed and reliability.

With these developing trends in mind, for instance, Lenovo is helping to transform productivity and collaboration by setting the scene for helping people work smarter with innovative emerging technologies.

This September the company announced a series of new products, partnerships and solutions designed for business customers that reflects the firm’s ongoing Intelligent Transformation strategy.

The strategy reflects the firm’s unique business perspective on how to build end-to-end solutions with smart features that transform businesses and improve the user experience.

  • Jim Holland is Country Head at Lenovo Data Centre Group (DCG) South Africa  . Lenovo is a US$43 billion global Fortune 500 company and a leader in providing innovative consumer, commercial, and enterprise technology. Its portfolio of high-quality, secure products and services covers PCs, workstations, servers, storage, smart TVs and a family of mobile products like smartphones, tablets and apps.