Three years ago, I published an “innovation radar” here. With a new decade ahead, I thought it’s time to talk about my view about the technology trends of the upcoming years again. And perhaps to look a little further into the future.
This time, I have taken the three time horizons a little wider than in the past. On the one hand, to be not too optimistic (what I usually am), and on the other hand, because it corresponds more to the “3 horizons” model and time frames that e.g. Martin Wezowski of SAP’s ICN also uses.
The time frames are not meant to tell when the corresponding technology will be mature, but rather when the topics will be relevant for a “typical” SAP customer – in my opinion. Some more explanations:
- In the outer horizon you can find topics that are perhaps still somewhat unclear, but which should be observed/evaluated (“assessed”). For topics like 5G, quantum computing, VR and blockchain, it is perhaps not yet possible to predict exactly how this will affect companies and business processes.
- In the middle circle there are topics that we should at least try out today (“trial”). Automation, especially in the area of “knowledge work”, is a topic that SAP is driving forward strongly at the moment with their “Intelligent RPA” platform. Not less important will be the “democratization” of access to technology, as Gartner calls it: no-code/low-code tools allow applications to be developed without profound programming skills, and thanks to Auto ML, suitable machine learning models for a problem can be found and trained without having to consult a data scientist. The interaction with IT systems via voice will perhaps become more important in the near future than we first thought: recently, I read about the term “augmented audio”: we probably won’t all have data glasses on our heads anytime soon, but smart headphones (e.g. AirPods) are already being used by many people. And the technology of progressive web apps (PWA) could make the development of cross-platform mobile apps (including offline-capable ones) much easier.
- The inner circle contains topics that should, or at least could, play a role in SAP projects in the short term (“adopt”). Service providers and system integrators should have few or no “question marks” around AI (with “Data Intelligence” as SAP’s new core platform), chatbots or conversational UIs (which also includes SAP’s digital assistant CoPilot) today. Fiori 3 and the concept of a central launchpad in the cloud is something you won’t be able to get past if you work with SAP anyway.
From the decade of the cloud to the decade of AI
The start of a new decade is probably a good opportunity to look back and forward a little bit further…
As far as the past decade is concerned, I would say it was mainly determined by the “cloud”, technology-wise (besides maybe the topic of mobile devices). Looking ahead to the next 10 years, I don’t think you have to be a great visionary to realize, that artificial intelligence (AI) will be the dominant topic. This includes also bots and digital assistants, that are based on AI. Thanks to AI we will experience an increasing automation (Gartner calls it “hyperautomation”), especially in knowledge and office work. Even for business decisions, people may rely on the advice of AI in the near future. And some people also say that only this will be “real digitalization”, as opposed to the pure “electrification of forms and processes” that we see today.
In addition, I would expect that mixed reality solutions will find their way into our everyday (professional and private) life in the next 10 years. Data glasses like Google Glass were one of the biggest flops of the past decade – in the years to come, however, hardware and use cases should become more relevant, more suitable for everyday use, and more mature (at the latest when Apple brings it’s “Apple Glass”). Many experts also say blockchain will be one of the most important fundamental technologies, for many areas. I guess that is true, but IMHO it will take some time until we see the technology as foundation of a big amount of business processes, apart from the prototypes and pilot implementations available today.
What do you think about the technology trends mentioned? Please feel free to comment and discuss…