As we find ourselves on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, the new decade will herald profound changes to both our professional and personal lives. There’s never a dull moment in the fast-evolving world of technology, and those of us who fail to keep up risk being left behind. Here’s what we can expect from the year ahead:
#1. Artificial intelligence
There are now more bytes of data than there are stars in the universe. Businesses are collecting and processing more data than ever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making smarter decisions based on all this information. Luckily, artificial intelligence is emerging out of necessity to make sense of these massive data sets for us.
#2. 5G wireless networks
Wireless networks are essential for empowering remote work and the multitude of everyday business operations that depend on them. Yet for too long, growth has been stifled by limited coverage, speed, and bandwidth. The continuing rollout of 5G networks should alleviate many of those concerns, bringing wireless connectivity on par with fiber optic fixed-line connections.
#3. Business automation
One of the overarching characteristics defining the fourth industrial revolution is the rise of automation. Repetitive manual jobs are becoming less prevalent in the workplace as machines take their place, letting employees focus on more rewarding tasks that still need the human touch. If a process can be automated, then it probably should be.
#4. Extended reality
Extended reality is a catch-all term that comprises augmented, virtual, and mixed reality. For the last few years, these niche technologies have largely been targeted toward the consumer entertainment sector, but things are changing fast. Extended reality solutions are now making their ways into a variety of industry sectors, from healthcare to real estate.
#5. Autonomous vehicles
After being years in the making, autonomous vehicles have finally become a viable technology that will have a profound effect on logistics in the years to come. Other autonomous machines are also making headway in the manufacturing and industrial sectors with the rise of so-called lights-out factories.
#6. Computer vision
There’s a reason why computer programmers have always had to learn complicated coding languages — computers really aren’t very good at making sense of human-readable text, let alone images and other visual content. But that’s changing with the rise of computer vision techniques designed to make computers see the world as humans do.
#7. Blockchain transactions
With cybersecurity concerns on the rise, financial transactions are coming under increasing scrutiny. Blockchain serves as a decentralized digital ledger for safeguarding sensitive data such as payment information. It originated as part of the cryptocurrency infrastructure, but it’s now finding an important role in the finance sector.
#8. Deepfake issues
While technologies like computer vision and artificial intelligence present many opportunities for business process improvements, they also present some serious risks. Last year saw the rise of deepfakes, in which artificial neural networks are used to fake videos. This year, we’ll likely see the first few social engineering attacks to use deepfake technology.
#9. Cybersecurity challenges
With every new technology, there’s both risk and opportunity. And as data continues to proliferate, information security and privacy remain the concern of the century, and things aren’t getting any easier. In 2020, we can expect to see new and exotic forms of malware, more state-sponsored cyberattacks, and most disturbingly, AI-powered attacks.
#10. Remote working
The traditional office setup where employees are stuck in front of a desk from nine till five is no longer the norm. Ubiquitous internet connectivity, mobile technologies, and cloud computing continue to transform and decentralize the workplace to the extent that people have grown used to working from home or on the move. We can only expect the trend to continue in 2020.
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