The 2010s were truly historic when looking at digital trends. The decade led to game-changing startups like Uber, Instagram, and Snapchat. Beyond these revolutionary companies, we saw the introduction of the iPad, Amazon Echo and Alexa, Apple AirPods, and Microsoft HoloLens.
Throughout the decade, all of us became more reliant on technology, increasingly using mobile devices to make our lives easier. But beyond consumer applications, companies of all shapes and sizes have been able to capitalize on digital megatrends like the rise of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), and Machine Learning (“ML”), the brisk advancement of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the rise of the gig economy.
Compared to the early days of 2010, the world has dramatically changed. It has gotten faster, more efficient, and more reliant on technology. Now, as we are in the early innings of this new decade, it is worth taking the time to explore some digital trends for this year. In my opinion, the digital trends below will accelerate the most this annum and help individuals — and organization — to further drive digital transformations.
The Continued Advancement of 5G Technology
In this conversation about digital trends for 2020, I’d like to start by mentioning the advancement of 5G technology. If you haven’t yet heard of it, 5G technology is, you guessed it, the fifth generation of wireless technology for digital cellular networks. 5G technology will not only provide faster connections between humans, but it will create lightning-fast connections between machines, objects, and devices. And when I say lightning-fast, I truly mean lightning-fast. 5G speeds are expected to grow to 100 gigabytes per second, which is 100 times faster than 4Gg technology. Ultimately, compared to earlier mobile network generations, 5G technology will be the backbone to things like enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications (like remote control of critical infrastructure), Smart Cities, and the Internet of Things (“IoT”).
The potential of 5G technology has always been there, but the rollout of this technology has been a different story. The effective deployment will require hundreds of thousands of new cell sites and new software. This is expensive, especially for large wireless providers that are already encumbered with debt.
But having said this, the proliferation of 5G technology will be at the top of mind in 2020. U.S. carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T will continue to blanket the country with 5G coverage. Much of the best coverage will be located in dense urban environments, but carriers will continue to roll out this technology across the country. 5G-enabled phones from companies like Samsung and Apple will also become more numerous, advanced, and affordable. While there will inevitably be uneven network buildouts and other rollout challenges, 5G technology is going to become an increasingly important part of our personal and professional lives. 5G technology will become the enabler for Edge Computing and powering new types of data-led applications in the Cloud.
Conversational Artificial Intelligence
Moving beyond 5G technology, I foresee conversational artificial intelligence (“AI”) becoming more advanced and valuable. The latter half of the last decade revealed some of the early potentials of conversational AI. Apple’s Siri technology, for instance, has come a long way in making life easier for Apple customers. Chatbots increasingly help both small and large companies handle basic customer queries and inquiries.
This year, I expect conversational AI to become even more advanced. This is due to several factors, including advancements in AI technology and companies deciding to take conversational AI more seriously. For instance, Facebook is investing time and effort into dialogue research. The overall goal is to build the next generation of intelligent agents, meaning that these agents can have an open-domain conversation across many different topics. Microsoft is also heavily investing in conversational AI research through its conversational AI platform. I expect to see these initiatives pay off and for all types of business to increasingly leverage conversational AI in their operations.
Data is the new oil
Next, I want to briefly discuss the continued advancement of Big Data. While the old mantra of “data being the new oil” has entered our collective consciousness, 2020 will be the year where businesses increasingly investing in tools that give context to that data.
Every year, the volume and speed of data increases. Yes, data is still being collected from our Internet browsers and mobile devices. But as more of our “dumb” devices become “smart,” companies are gathering all types of data, whether it is sensor data, voice data, or even data from our vehicles. While this increasing amount of data is, at first glance, extremely exciting, the issue comes with actually parsing through that data. Moreover, this data is often unstructured, meaning that it takes a significant amount of time to make something of it.
Because of this, small and large companies alike will continue to invest in tools that help them efficiently interpret this data. Data analytics tools can go a long way in helping companies use their data to increase their bottom lines. Sequentially, data management and interpretation will become a mission-critical task, especially as this deluge of data shows no signs of slowing down.
The Acceleration of Blockchain Technology
The initial hype over cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology seems to have worn off. The price of Bitcoin, for instance, has been more stable compared to the manic price action from several years ago. And while companies have shown interest in blockchain technology, we are still a long way from mainstream adoption.
Having said this, I believe that blockchain technology isn’t going away. In fact, adoption is going to accelerate in 2020. It will continue to play an important role in the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, but small and large enterprises will see increasing use cases for blockchain technology beyond the crypto world. To facilitate adoption, companies may increasingly rely on things like Amazon Web Services’ blockchain-as-a-service platform. Beyond Amazon and blockchain-as-a-service options, financial institutions will increasingly rely on blockchain technology in their core operations. Even though we are still in the early days of blockchain technology, it is clear that it will become a disruptive force in our society.
Digital Privacy Becomes More Important
Finally, I see increased enthusiasm toward digital privacy. The General Data Privacy Regulation (“GDPR”) is only the first volley as regulators respond to concerns about how companies use consumer data. To preempt global regulators, large tech companies may be proactive, adding additional features that let users control their information. For instance, on Data Privacy Day this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced several new features on this front. Eventually, if your company collects any amount of user data, you will have to think twice about how you handle user information. This increased focus on digital privacy is a trend that isn’t going away.
Anticipating the Future
I believe that these digital trends are going to play a large role in the exciting digital world this year. Digital transformations are always exciting—especially because the pace of change is only getting faster. This type and pace of change can lead to some incredible opportunities for your business.
Because of this, I encourage you to pay close attention to these trends. If necessary, do some additional research, for example, have a look at https://digitaltransformationtrends.com or speak with some experts in these fields over LinkedIn. By preparing now and constantly being on the lookout for opportunities, you will surely be able to capitalize on these trends in the months ahead.