Five technologies that will change the world by 2021
Forrester identified 15 emerging technologies that will change consumer expectations and the way businesses operate over the next five years.
While all these technologies will help businesses become more customer-centric, Brian Hopkins, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, believes five will significantly shift how organisations and consumers engage through to 2021.
In a new report, Hopkins refers to the rise of empowered customers, which Forrester believes are forcing companies to rethink their fundamental operating principles to become customer-obsessed.
“These businesses are customer-led, instead of just customer-aware; they are driven by insights, not data; they prefer speed over efficiency; and they are connected rather than operating in silos. A new crop of emerging technologies stands poised to unleash even more change that will further elevate consumer expectations and shift their behaviour in a new cycle,” said Hopkins.
While these 15 technologies should remain on the radar for CIOs over the coming years, it’s the following five technologies that Forrester said will change the world by 2021.
1. Internet of Things (IoT) software and solutions
Forrester said that by 2021, IoT will drive new levels of customer insight and engagement for some. Specialised IoT software will be readily available from vendors, and they will expand their core software to incorporate IoT. Forrester also said by 2021, the technology for specific use cases will be mature, but technology diversity and the need for organisational changes will still stymie or delay many firms.
2. Intelligent agents
As outlined in a previous report on the future of the workplace, Forrester predicts that by 2021, intelligent agents and related robots will have eliminated a net 6 percent of jobs. AI within intelligent agents will evolve significantly beyond today’s relatively simple machine learning and natural language processing (NLP).
3. Augmented and virtual reality
Forrester said by 2021 AR will be commonplace, while VR will remains niche. Within five years, AR technologies will project digital information on many surfaces. Headsets will be incrementally smaller but unwieldy enough to limit widespread consumer uptake. By 2021, however, Forrester said we will be fully into a transition period between separated and tightly blended physical and digital experiences in our work and lives.
4. Artificial intelligence and cognitive technology
By 2021, Forrester believes a disruptive tidal wave will begin and that solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs. Citing a Citibank and University of Oxford report, Forrester said the biggest impact will be felt in transportation, logistics, customer service, and consumer services.
5. Hybrid wireless
The fifth key technology disruptor will by hybrid wireless. In the report, Forrester said 5G will be rolling out by 2021, creating a high bandwidth cellular backbone to support IoT devices. In addition, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will expand their capabilities to support IoT devices.
Speaking about the findings of the report and the possible effects of these technologies on various sectors, Hopkins said he does not see significant disruption in the immediate future.
“We don't think we are going to see dramatic disruption in 2017. Our report found that the next round of disruptive tech won't really start to have a disruptive impact until 2019. So we are in a holding period while change brews.”
“Some disruption will continue in financial services but this has been a long slow process due to the strong grip large banks have on the core banking system. However mobile and intelligent agent assisted apps will continue to tear away add-on services that banks have been using for years to bolster their profitability.
“Transportation is another industry that is undergoing change. First car sharing, then Uber, next is self-driving cars. But change will be gradual in 2017. We will see more self-driving cars but this still won't affect automotive and insurance quite yet. But that is coming.”
Looking at the effects of the emerging technologies identified in the report, Forrester said they are “poised to unleash another cycle of raised consumer expectations, changing behaviours, and disruption.” The stakes for CIOs are high, where a wrong investment could result in a company going out of business, but a savvy investment could give an organisation a significant competitive advantage.
Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.