Research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. published their top ten strategic technology trends for 2018 in early October. To sum up their total outlook, Gartner is focusing on what they call the “Intelligent Digital Mesh,” or the entwining of people, devices, content, and services. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key overarching theme in Gartner’s report, one that will create a foundation for the next generation of digital business models. They believe AI will continue to seep into virtually every technology. Here’s a brief look at the main AI trends Gartner, businesses, and investors will be looking to in 2018.
1. Adoption of “Narrow” Artificial Intelligence
While many hear “AI” and think of futuristic technologies akin to science fiction, “narrow” AI is a present-day technology that Gartner sees growing rapidly in 2018. “Narrow” AI is a well-defined solution that targets specific tasks, such as self-driving cars, automated manufacturing, or using algorithms to tailor advertising.
As narrow AI and the benefits become increasingly understood by enterprises, it will be increasingly adopted to reinvent business models and customer experiences. Gartner reports that 59 percent of organizations are still gathering information to build their AI strategies, while the remainder have already made progress in adopting solutions.
2. Intelligent Apps and Analytics
While popular applications like Uber, Pandora, and Facebook use AI to tailor a customer’s experience, Gartner sees AI becoming a foundational part of every application over the next few years. Intelligent apps will create an intermediary layer between people and systems, such as virtual assistants and advisors.
Intelligent analytics will use AI to automate tasks such as data collection, preparation, and insight gathering and sharing. Gartner sees this as a particularly fast-growing opportunity for businesses to incorporate AI into their everyday business operations. While there are concerns about how AI will affect the workforce by automating many jobs, Gartner recommends businesses explore intelligent apps and analytics as a way to augment and assist workers instead of focusing on replacing them.
Going hand-in-hand with the popular trend, “the Internet of Things,” Gartner sees 2018 taking AI a step further. The market will increasingly see “smart” objects and appliances that will interact with people more intelligently. These things will operate either autonomously or with human input. Current examples are the Amazon Echo, FitBit, and the popular robot vacuum “Roomba.”
As more and more things become intelligent, Gartner expects a shift from stand-alone devices to a “swarm” of intelligent appliances and devices working together. Imagine: perhaps someday your FitBit will communicate your health statistics with your refrigerator, which will then recommend or even automatically order your groceries for the coming week to keep you healthy. According to Gartner, that day might not be as far away as it seems.