10 IT trends for 2020
Kevin Deierling Vice President of Marketing at Mellanox Technologies Ltd., discusses the top 10 IT trends of 2020.
Well for a start it’s the Year of the Tokyo Olympics – not irrelevant for the IT industry, as this promises to be the first 5G Olympics. We have come a long way since 1924, when the Paris Olympics were the first to be, only partly, covered by live radio broadcast. The 1936 Berlin Olympics were the first to be televised, but only broadcast across Berlin and Potsdam in Germany. Worldwide television coverage only began in 1960 Rome Olympics, and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were the first to be transmitted live across the Pacific by satellite. The 2012 London Olympics could claim to be the first smartphone games. Although the Apple iPhone was launched the year before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, few expected that by 2012 there would be a whole new way to experience Olympic highlights via a burgeoning population of spectators’ 3G smartphones.
So, despite the recent slow-down of 5G rollout plans, Japan is determined to make the most of this opportunity to flex its technology muscles – from a planned man-made multicolour meteor shower at the opening ceremony, through 360 degree 8K VR streams, to a population of 5G-connected robots helping overseas visitors find their way. This exposure will surely fuel public demand, and prise open the floodgates for a new generation of 5G apps – see below.
Looking more closely behind the scenes of our industry, however, we see other key trends to look out for.
Automation v AI
Promotional literature writing algorithms have made sure that no product announcement omitted the letters “AI” during 2019. But, as people are becoming more educated in the significance of artificial intelligence, many are realizing that a lot of so-called AI is actually the automation of intelligent decisions, rather than a full-blooded exercise in machine learning and deep data mining. So, expect more honest use of the word “automation” instead of intelligence next year. Although fully autonomous vehicles are still a distant prospect, look out for truly effective business automation in quite surprisingly “un-mechanical” operations. For example, the Australian company Renewtrak – boosting clients’ profits with its automated subscription renewals service.
Simplicity – from virtue to necessity
That automation is a key part of a general trend towards simplifying operations, notably network management. According to Gartner’s April 2019 Strategic Roadmap for Networking Report, “Approximately 70 percent of data center networking tasks are performed manually, which increases time, cost and likelihood of errors, and reduces flexibility.” So much talent is being wasted on these routine tasks that nearly 40 percent of companies are finding it hard to recruit qualified staff, according to Uptime Institute. Companies like Apstra have been developing and demonstrating vendor-agnostic software solutions (such as Intent Based Networking) to simplify network management. In 2019 these solutions began to be noticed, in 2020 they should gain real traction.
VCs getting fried on chips
Not that we will see the end of AI headlines: with dozens of new startups, the Hunger Games for AI Chip Startups begins in 2020. Some of these startups are very well funded (Cambricon, Cerebras, Habana, Graphcore, Groq, SambaNova, Sensetime … to name just a few). However, too many VCs carry a lemming gene, and will jump into any startup with ‘AI’ in their name. The problem is that investing just to fill a perceived category gap in the portfolio is akin to jumping off a cliff just because the guy in front of you did. This is definitely the case with too much money, funding too many AI startups. Now there will definitely be some startup winners, who get acquired. However, the space is way over-funded and the shake out will begin in earnest in 2020.
What’s more, the big boys, including GPU providers and Google with Tensorflow processors, are investing in both hardware and software to support a broad range of AI workloads. So those AI start-ups will need to demonstrate real traction to keep up. But, just maybe, one of them might actually win the Hunger Games in 2020?
Domain Specific Processors.
With the End of Moore’s Law, new purpose-built processors will be needed if the industry is to continue to improve the performance and efficiency of computing – while lowering cost. But now instead of benefitting from ever smaller transistors, the gains will come from innovation at an architectural level. So look out for the rise of specialized processors for specific functions such as accelerating storage, networking, security – and AI.
Enter the Dragon
Everyone is waiting for the “Killer App” at the edge to emerge. Of course, 5G isn’t an app but, as the necessary communication infrastructure layer, it is the vital missing piece. But once deployed broadly it will provide the low latency and network slicing capabilities to enable that predicted surge in next generation edge apps. And the Olympic spotlight will surely give that a boost.
New Apps for Old
To parody The Who song Won’t Get Fooled Again: “meet the new apps, same as the old apps …” To create truly innovative apps that actually work you need real familiarity with and experience of the underlying technology – not just a dream of what might be possible. So expect the first rush of 5G apps to be improvement on current favourites like Otter.Ai transcription, speech and facial recognition, and machine-educated recommendations from our virtual assistants. But expect them to be better, faster and more accurate. Look forward to more people saying “it just works” towards the end of 2020.
SD-WAN on a roll
This is a no-brainer, because SD-WAN is already one of the industry’s fastest growth segments. MEF Proof of Concept Demonstrations often identify working technologies that promise real mileage in following years. This year MEF19 awarded six companies for SD-WAN over Satellite Access, and another six, including Versa Networks and Spirent Communications, for Orchestrated Virtualized Multivendor SD-WAN Services. Multivendor is key here: allowing the customer to choose open, off-the-shelf hardware platforms eliminates CPE lock in. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have a tremendous opportunity to become strategic partners to their enterprise customers by offering a competitive managed SD-WAN offering.
So expect even more SD-WAN growth in 2020.
Apps become the Edge
Until now app developers had little control over the network their apps would run across, they were at the mercy of legacy constructs like VPNs. Things are looking very different now, with the launch of the first app developer platform to enable programmable, zero trust networking. The recently launched NetFoundry Fabric allows connectivity to be written into the app as code, effectively embedding the Fabric’s zero trust security and optimized performance end to end with no reliance on dedicated networks. This will dramatically reduce the time lag from app development to launch – definitely a space worth watching in 2020.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.