Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment
“I believe 2018 will be the year in which businesses of all sizes engage with the hype and get to grips with the difference between tech for tech’s sake and understanding how it can be used to augment human capability. This is the year to overcome the tech fear.”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation
Euan Cameron, UK AI leader:
"2018 is the year when AI will start to become mainstream in many organisations. The ability to provide comfort that these systems are built, deployed and operated in a responsible and transparent fashion will be critical. There will be significant benefits for organisations which adopt this approach when implementing AI, but potential pitfalls for those which decide to 'play it by ear'."
Sultan Mahmood, robotic process automation leader:
“Over the past year many companies have embarked on pilot and small deployments of robotic technologies to automate manual, mundane, repetitive tasks and have seen varying levels of success. The stage is set for 2018 to be the year in which companies deliver automation at scale which, when combined with transformed business process and operational improvements, will result in many thousands of robots being deployed in organisations. These will vastly improve employees’ roles by removing monotony and allowing for more creative work.”
On AI in financial services, Aldous Birchall, AI solutions leader in Technology Consulting:
"Our clients are moving beyond viewing AI and Machine Learning as experimental technology and shifting their focus to implementing commercially driven, end-to-end business applications. 2018 will be the year when many come to understand the limitations of trying to fully automate existing human processes and think more creatively about alternative operating models. The result will be a move away from the anthropomorphic concepts commonly used in the business AI community towards increasing sophistication around the possibilities for operating in ways that currently have no human equivalent.”
Seamus Cushley, blockchain director:
“The increasing demand in the ICO (initial coin offering) space will become yet more prevalent next year. This will disrupt traditional organisation structures and the means of investments and raising funds.
“We’re starting to see a move away from only financial services organisations looking at uses for blockchain, and are seeing more activity in energy and utilities, manufacturing and healthcare which we predict will continue in the year ahead. There is a big opportunity for blockchain to provide transparency and accountability in the supply chain. Blockchain for digital identity purposes will also become more tangible over the next 12 - 18 months.”
James Hampshire, cyber security senior manager:
“2018 will be the year in which organisations deliver a step-change in their cyber security capability by embracing emerging technologies, most notably AI and blockchain.
“Historically we have seen confidentiality of data as the primary goal of cyber security. In 2017, Wannacry and NotPetya elevated availability of systems and data to the same level on organisations' radars. 2018 could be the year that the third leg of the information security triad, integrity of data, really comes to the fore. All organisations rely on the integrity of their data to function, from the food supply chain, to the medical profession, to any company reporting financial results. An attacker that can cause a question mark to appear over the integrity of their target's data could potentially cause huge damage.”
Neil Hampson, data analytics leader:
“Data remains king - so, while emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and drones are becoming the new 'it' crowd, let's not forget about the magic ingredient behind them all - data. In the coming year it will be more important than ever for organisations to ensure they have a clear picture of the data assets they’re sitting on, in order to mine it for better business outcomes and to take advantage of the latest technologies.”
Elaine Whyte, UK drones expert:
“The drones market will continue to move from an early adopter tool to a mature professional service offering. Drones will become a key tool in enabling organisations to gather data about their operations quicker, more easily and more cheaply than ever before.
“For example, we predict a real take-up in the use of drones in capital and infrastructure projects to provide an interactive 3D visual of the site to enhance all stages of the build. Uses include assisting the planning application process by providing 3D data with BIM (building information modelling) overlays and the visualisation of proposed infrastructure for local communities, monitoring performance during the build (including adherence to design, contractor performance and interactive stakeholder reporting), along with providing a 'golden record' of the site for handover to the maintenance side of the business along with supporting any potentially lengthy litigation claims.”
Future of Work
Rob McCargow, AI programme leader:
“2018 will likely see a proliferation of companies applying AI for a wide range of uses. The area that I believe requires the most scrutiny is the adoption of AI in HR and workforce management. AI-augmented recruitment stands out as a key growth area with a range of offerings in the market from CV selection, to advanced assessment through video analysis, and improved ‘candidate journeys’ supported by conversational agents.
“Marching in lockstep with this plethora of opportunity is an abundance of risk. Whilst AI can be marshalled to drive efficiencies and make HR processes more fair, if not governed and implemented responsibly, it can lead to an amplification of bias and discrimination. As these technologies become more pervasive in the workplace, expect to see increased demand from candidates and employees seeking clear and transparent policies setting out how their data is used to make decisions.”
Stewart Room, lead partner for GDPR and data protection:
"The GDPR introduces new data subject rights and personal data breach notification from May 2018. These rules will shine an intense spotlight on the performance of technology systems and their ability to deliver on the law's requirements. Data controllers and processors may have a rude awakening if they have overlooked technology systems during their GDPR preparations."
Virtual Reality (VR)
Jeremy Dalton, VR / AR lead:
“With the release of standalone virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Go set for early 2018, we will see a significant increase in adoption of VR technology by consumers. Standalone headsets mitigate two of the serious challenges VR is facing in the goal for mainstream adoption - cost and user experience.”
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