This article was originally published on on September 26, 2017.
Even though we haven’t quite hit the final quarter of 2017, you could say it’s been an eventful year in digital transformation. Just it was predicted at t this time, user experience (UX), big data, smart machines — and of course, change itself—have proven big players in the business landscape this year. As we round the bend to 2018, we get a sense of what’s ahead in the digital transformation—barring any unexpected disruptions, of course.

1-4. The IoT Will Push Us To The Edge — Literally (IoT, Analytics, Edge, 5G)

One thing I noticed in putting this list together is that the IoT kept popping up, repeatedly. This is why it has found its way to the top. Gartner estimates more than 8.4 billion “Things” are on the internet today, up more than 30% from just one year ago. However, IoT alone is just the start. It isn’t so much about the things, but rather what we do with these things once they are connected and supplying us data. Three of the main trends I see — the analytics revolution, edge computing, and 5G cell processing—are all driven by the IoT at their core. In fact, IDC predicts that up to 40% of all compute will happen at the edge in just the next couple of years. This is why trends 1-4 all rest with IoT.

Analytics (2):

If you’re maxing out on data and analytics in 2017, just wait. The mass amount of information being created by the IoT has the power to revolutionize everything from manufacturing and healthcare to the layout and functioning of entire cities — allowing them to work more efficiently and profitably than ever before. One company, for instance, found that it was able to reduce the cost of managing its fleet of 180,000 trucks from 15 cents per mile to just 3 cents. That same kind of efficiency can be exercised in almost every industry, from retail to city planning. Tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM, SAS and SAP are all heavily investing in Analytics, more specifically IoT Analytics as they are seeing the power of this combination in driving new business insights across a vast array of industries and applications.

Edge Computing (3):

If you think you’ve already been pushed to the edge when it comes to digital transformation, look out: you haven’t seen anything yet. Just when many companies are finally beginning to move toward cloud computing, edge computing — driven by the sheer volume and speed of information produced by the IoT—is jumping to the forefront of the business scene. Industry leaders such as Cisco and HPE have made huge hardware, software and service bets on this movement, which I look at as strong validation of this trend. As smart drones, autonomous vehicles, and other AI-powered smart devices seek to connect and communicate instantly via the IoT, the matter of sending data “all the way” to the cloud will become highly impractical. Many of these devices will need real-time response and processing, making edge computing the only viable option. For those of you who have just jumped into the cloud generation: don’t fret. Though edge will continue to be the go-to choice for processing real-time data, it’s likely that the most important and relevant data will still head cloud-ward.

5G (4):

Just as the amount of data produced by the IoT will force data to the edge, it will also force mobile providers to move faster than ever — toward 5G. The level of hyper-connectivity expected by users today leaves little room not to move forward on the 5G path, but don’t get too excited. The move to 5G won’t happen overnight, and it will likely be patchy at best throughout the coming year. This year we are seeing Gigabit LTE (the stepping stone between current LTE and 5G) making leaps with devices from Samsung and Sony leading the way. Today much of the Gigabit LTE movement is being powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon technology, but others will certainly seek to become involved in this rapid growth market for mobile.