The only constant is change. As an industry expert when it comes to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), I believe whole heartedly that 2019 is going to be the year that we see a rapid extension of technology.
The fourth industrial revolution is well under way, driven by the digital age into unprecedented technological advancements.
First off the bat is an advancement that has slowly but surely become an every day part of most of our lives – the Internet of Things (IoT). Because so many items have been built with an IP interface, more and more devices are being connected to the internet, and in turn, to each other. IoT literally brings smart house and home appliances to life, in fact, most of us probably already have the beginnings of an IoT setup within our own homes.
The health sector is currently one of the largest sectors embracing this technology, with wearable smart watches that measure blood pressure, heart rate, running and walking distance and general speed. Even traffic lights will be automatically adjusted in the not too distant future to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term which has been thrown around extensively when it comes to technological advancements. AI is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks usually associated with intelligent beings. In 2019 we expect to see more AI chips being integrated into computers, smartphones and other devices. This essentially means that computers will become much more intelligent.
For example, a loyalty card programme in a retail business coupled with big data and AI will allow the opportunity for that retail store to predict customer spending patterns. They could even go so far as to offer personalised discounts to shoppers as well as pre-selected shopping carts filled with unique, regular shopping items. This is sure to be a complete game changer within the retail landscape.
Security is always going to be on the trend list. As rapidly as technology is advancing, there are still a vast amount of technologies that are not built with security in mind. Last year alone we saw the likes of Facebook, British Airways, Liberty and Viewfines reporting massive data breaches. These kinds of security breaches can cripple businesses and we can definitely expect legislative enforcement of data privacy laws to be at the forefront of security in 2019.
Another revolution within the security landscape is the Cloud. More and more devices and Software applications are connecting to and relying on the Cloud in terms of communication.
In terms of the Cloud, it is imperative that we are vigilant when it comes to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which can take place from the IoT networks and mobile devices. (DDoS) attacks are a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic. Advancements in firewall technologies are certainly going to increase this year as a security measure against these kinds of attacks.
One can only hope that 2019 is the year that the public becomes more aware of, and more educated around cyber security. We are seeing an unprecedented increase of users freely handing their data over to third parties online. It is honestly quite disturbing. People need to realise that any data exchange should include extreme vigilance when it comes to forms and applications completed online. It’s an eye-opener to see how few people know where their very own personal data is stored and just who has access to this data.
Do I foresee a “Wild Card game changer” trend within the industry for 2019?
Block chain and Cryptocurrency, without a doubt will change the technology landscape as we know it in 2019. Currently Block chain is a centralised collection of transactions, similar to a credit report, that can be used to determine the trustworthiness of digital transactions, such as Bitcoin. In 2019, we will begin to see Block chain used as an authentication provider as cryptocurrency continues to increase its dominance over the world markets.
Because these advancements are being driven by digital, the currently disadvantaged, from a technological perspective, may be left in the wake as the world becomes more digitised. The divide between rural and urban areas could grow substantially.
Many students will now have access to e-learning content right in their own homes. This will allow for a substantial increase in access to free education for many families across South Africa, with remarkably positive ripple effects. Students can also learn at their own pace, and education can be customised to suit the unique learners’ requirements.
Technology, good or bad, should be allowed to flourish freely. For example, Ransomware as a virus took the world by storm, leaving many businesses and individuals bruised and battered. But, as catastrophic as it was for certain entities, it allowed us to improve in security monitoring as well as IDS/IPS technology.
We should all live by the motto that knowledge is power, and any means to increasing that knowledge must certainly be seen in a positive light.
• Peter Serati is chief technology architect at Alteram Solutions