The arrival of hyperscale cloud data centres in South Africa, the commercial maturing of new interactions such as augmented reality, and the rise of the intelligent edge paint a promising picture for 2018.
But these are not just local events – globally the next year holds a lot of promise. As highlighted in the Next Era of Human-Machine Partnership report from Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future (IFTF), some profound new realities are just around the corner.
Mega clouds are a notable prediction from this report – so-called because they will span multiple cloud vendors. Companies and individuals will start expecting to shift workloads, data and other assets between those vendors, avoiding lock-ins and cloud silos’ that are emerging as the migration away from client-server concepts continue.
In South Africa this will be pre-empted by the arrival of Azure hyperscale data centres, a reflection of the country’s growing demand for cloud’s efficiency and innovation delivery. But the impact will be felt beyond our borders, reaching out to the rest of the SADC region.
Doug Woolley, GM of Dell EMC South Africa, is particularly excited about opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. “It’s one of our fastest growing regions. We will look at getting more potential investment for the SADC and Indian Island territories. We see a lot of upside, we see a lot of partners engaging with us and also a lot of customers having conversations. And we’ve had good, significant wins in the territory in the past six months. I am very happy with the rate and potential there.”
With this growth of cloud will come the distinct rise of the intelligent edge. This speaks of more decision-making capacity being shifted to devices located away from the core of cloud systems. The sensor on a security system or environmental monitor will not have to wait for feedback from the central hub in order to act, thus drastically reducing response times for all types of situations. Called the IQ of Things, this revolution is already evident in our cars – where sensors feed information to local systems inside the vehicles.
Such systems will start hosting certain levels of artificial intelligence, a force that continues to reshape the world. In 2018, Dell EMC predicts this trend expanding into ‘thinking tasks’ at businesses. Using data, AIs will help companies significantly reduce time spent scoping, debating, scenario planning and testing every new innovation.
AI will also play a growing role in recruiting the right people and skills, which the report refers to as “bias checking”. This is the use of AI to get around human shortcomings. Not dissimilar to ‘blind’ auditions where musicians perform behind a screen, AI will be utilised to help inform hiring and promotion decisions without the unseen prejudice of humans.
Numerous companies are already using such practices. But they are the outliers. In 2018, we will start regarding them as the pioneers. Those include companies that will be using Augmented and Virtual Reality for remote interviews of candidates and engagements with customers. As digital entertainment such as e-sports grow in popularity, that tech-savvy audience will also drive the adoption of AR and VR in 2018.