In my view the biggest thing that will happen in 2019 is the launch of 5G services. Australia is at the forefront in the deployment of 5g networks with Telstra and Optus committed to launching services in 2019. 5g will see a massive increase in Bandwidth. Expect to see speeds of between 250mbps – 500mbps, this compares to the NBN premium speed of 100mbps. Beyond bandwidth there is also a massive performance improvement due to lower latency. Latency is the time delay between a request for data to be transferred and the data being received. With 4G latency is around 50 milliseconds, with 5G that will reduce to 1 millisecond. This means that systems that need real time data transfer, for example autonomous vehicles or remote surgery via Virtual Reality are much closer to reality. It will also be the platform to move data around from the explosion of connected devices.
On connected devices, or what is called the internet of things, we are seeing an exponential increase in the number of connected devices. Many homes have a voice assistant, such as Alexa, Connected Speakers, Smart TVs, Apple TVs or Chromecasts, Dashcams to name a few. Expect to see more and more devices that are Smart or Connected coming into your home and workplace. There will also be a wide range of sensors that will produce data that can be monitored as well as being able to control physical environments remotely. These can be familiar things such as security cameras or temperature controls to agriculture where sensors can monitor soil moisture, temperature, tank levels as well as automatically control pumps to move water to where it is needed. As the cost of sensors continues to fall and the availability of cloud software and low latency networks is on the rise we are moving into a far more connected world.
There are many areas of emerging technology and the ones that I am finding most interesting are Virtual and Augmented Reality, Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. However in order to take advantage of emerging technology, rather than look at technologies as stand-alone solutions, you need to ask “How can I combine these technologies to solve a problem?”. A good example is Deloitte Assist. The problem was how could patient call buttons in hospitals be enhanced to ensure patients could get the care they needed and staff could understand the nature of the call together with its urgency. Combining Voice Recognition through an Amazon Alexa, Artificial Intelligence to classify the nature of the call and what was required, Cloud based workflow software, Mobile Phones and Digital Signage saw a huge improvement in the service levels provided to patients as well as a significant improvement in patient and staff satisfaction.
While technology continues to become cheaper and more accessible for everyone one big trend I am seeing is large organisations recognising that they are not able to move as fast as they need. In recent years I have had many CEOs lament about multi year transformation programs that are costing many millions of dollars but unlikely to deliver anything resembling transformation. One said to me that “no matter how digital we want to be, somehow we still come out analog”. Many large organisations are learning to embrace a culture of experimentation and learning how to “get out of their own way” when embarking on innovative technology plays. Others are adopting lessons learn’t from the technology industry looking at embracing Agile principles, using social technology to drive transparency and workplace collaboration and partnering with technology companies to find new ways of delivering value.
In summary, the pace of technology change is not slowing down so it is important for organisations to understand not only what technology is out there that they can use but also how they need to organise and adapt to stay in touch with the competition and learn how to innovate effectively.