Business predictions for 2019 and beyond
Global analyst firm CCS Insight has revealed its predictions for 2019 and beyond at its annual event in Central London.
The event is increasingly becoming one of the most important conferences in the digital industry’s calendar as the rate of technological advancements and transitions across markets become more acute.
This year, the list of 100 predictions focuses on CCS Insight’s vision for artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, smart cities and smart home developments, 5G, the digital workplace, new consumer devices, media and the moves of major technology players such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Tencent.
CCS Insight predictions
Facebook provides citizen services on behalf of governments by the end of 2022
In a major push to embed itself deeper into citizens’ daily lives and the machinery of the state, Facebook tries to incorporate data such as identity card numbers, social security numbers and healthcare identities, and to run some of the outward-facing services that use them. These include interfaces to credit checks and healthcare appointment schedules and reminders. The initiative mimics the position that Tencent is building in China using its WeChat service. Government and consumer resistance limits Facebook’s reach to a few countries.
In 2019, enterprises beyond the technology sector set up machine learning labs
Large companies begin to realize that having their own research facilities in artificial intelligence is a strong mechanism to enable collaboration with developers and universities, and a way to access and retain talent. JP Morgan, Pearson and BP, which have all hired heads of artificial intelligence recently, are good candidates. Despite well-publicized goals by major service providers to democratize artificial intelligence, most usage of the technology is confined to big firms, and by 2020, 90 percent of large enterprises are running custom machine learning applications, compared with just five percent of small and medium businesses.
By 2023, unlimited data is the default option in many mobile tariffs in advanced markets
As the value of mobile data continues to be eroded, competitive forces pressure operators to offer all-you-can-eat data bundles in the same way that voice minutes and texts are sold today. Many tariff plans evolve to include unlimited data, albeit with some level of throttling or a fair usage policy.
The battle between consumer speech assistants spreads to the enterprise market in 2019
With Amazon’s Alexa for Business already launched and Microsoft experiencing a growing number of queries into Office 365 from Alexa users, 2019 brings formal competition in speech assistants for the enterprise and workplace markets. Rising usage in homes, home offices and in corporate meeting rooms encourages greater focus on business scenarios by developers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant.
Huge variation in users’ experience of 5G in 2019 and 2020 becomes a marketing headache
Forthcoming 5G networks employ a range of frequencies, with millimetre-wave spectrum beyond 24 GHz suited to high-capacity, high-bandwidth connections and sub-6 GHz frequencies providing coverage. However, this represents a challenge for the industry. Differing operator strategies result in vastly different levels of performance and coverage. Manufacturers are likely to design initial handsets with a geographic focus, supporting either sub-6 GHz bands or millimetre-wave spectrum, and in a few cases both. This variation in performance exacerbates the challenge of marketing 5G technology; it risks frustrating users as they try to compare oversimplified promises based on raw speed.
Salesforce enters the team collaboration space in 2019
The company builds on its acquisition in 2016 of Quip, a provider of collaborative productivity tools, and introduces a competitor to Slack and Microsoft Teams. It does so either through further acquisition or through in-house development. The product reinforces its employee engagement offerings and helps the company compete more effectively in the digital workplace arena by complementing its digital transformation strategy.
By 2021, it is possible to talk to almost every new connected consumer device sold in Western markets
Strong recent progress in speech recognition drives the trend, alongside greater integration with personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa. Not every device incorporates a microphone and voice-processing functions: greater support for programming interfaces and the ability to relay commands from speech-activated devices such as smart speakers brings voice control to otherwise “deaf” products.
Trust is the most important source of competition among cloud service providers in 2019
The industry adapts to a new era in the wake of data-sharing scandals, extensive security breaches and concerns that service providers may not be acting in the best interests of their customers. For example, Walmart has warned its suppliers away from using Amazon Web Services, fearing a conflict of interest at the cloud service provider. The likes of Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft recognize the importance of winning customers’ trust to set them apart from rivals, prompting a focus on greater transparency, compliance efforts and above all investment in security.
In 2019, at least three countries ban or restrict levels 2 and 3 semi-autonomous driving
The Society of Automotive Engineers defines level 2 autonomy as “hands off” and level 3 as “eyes off”, but in both cases the driver remains behind the wheel. The transition to these levels of control is problematic owing to the immaturity of the technology and the need for occasional and sudden intervention by the driver. Several accidents lead to a crackdown by regulators. Restrictions are imposed on how companies can market what should be referred to as a safety aid rather than “self-driving” functions. Some countries move to ban the technology outright.
Behavioural biometrics become the latest layer of security on smartphones
A combination of biometric triggers is used to authenticate users, especially in scenarios involving highly sensitive or regulated data, such as medical consultations or high-value financial transactions. The biometrics used in this new layer encompass established elements such as fingerprint, facial and iris recognition to more-subtle but equally valuable elements like the way people type, scroll or talk on the phone. With the right sensors a user’s breath could even be used as an authentication method.
Phones with folding screens arrive in 2019 but they remain a niche category until 2022
After years of hype, a smartphone with a folding screen finally becomes available to buy. Although a magnet for gadget lovers, the phone’s inevitable high cost and its trade-offs in usability result in limited shipments. Problems include poor readability in sunlight, a bulky design to protect the screen’s fold and the need for an external screen. Despite some early missteps, folding-screen technology continues to develop, partly thanks to users’ never-ending quest for larger and larger displays, and more attractive devices emerge within a decade.
Security becomes a bigger focus for mobile operators deploying 5G networks
The race to gain bragging rights from being early with the launch of 5G networks results in many operators and suppliers placing less emphasis on the security aspects. With mission-critical services being touted as an important reason to deploy 5G networks, security assumes a far more important role than in previous generations of cellular connectivity. Renewed efforts in security feature in delays to the introduction of some network technologies
The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris see the introduction of digital anti-doping passports
Olympians are already subjected to blood passports and regular anti-doping tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency goes one step further by mandating that athletes record training and performance data such as heart rate and perceived effort into an online application. The data gathered is analysed using artificial intelligence in an effort to catch dopers. Athletes who do not provide data risk being banned from the competition.
At least 200 million smartphones with a new Chinese operating system are sold in 2020
The current political tension between China and the US and ensuing troubles for ZTE and Huawei present a strong incentive for other Chinese companies to create their own operating system for smart devices. Spurred by a desire to quickly reduce their dependence on US companies, Chinese technology players use the replacement of 4G smartphones with 5G-ready devices to advance the transition to a home-grown platform.
A blockchain-powered alternative to Facebook emerges by 2022
The decentralized nature of blockchain means a wave of initiatives are launched to provide an alternative to the advertising-based business models of services such as Facebook. Among the front runners are initiatives led by a consortium or a non-profit organization such as the Mozilla Foundation. They seek to offer users control and even the ability to profit from their own data. Rivalling the scale and network effect of established providers is an impossible task, but the alternative proves disruptive if only by forcing advertising-based rivals to consider paid-for variants of their services.
Netflix opens its own branded cinema by 2022
The move is made in partnership with an existing cinema chain or through acquisition. It allows Netflix to diversify and promote its catalogue of original material to new audiences, and increase loyalty among subscribers by offering special screenings. Owning a cinema in Los Angeles would help Netflix’s aspirations to win an Oscar for one of its feature films: nominated films must show at a commercial cinema in the city for a week. We expect some rivals to follow suit, especially Amazon, given its investments in video content and bricks-and-mortar retailing.
Senior executives from major web players run for political office over the next five years
They enter elections in a range of countries in efforts by their former employers to get closer to the establishment. As the political climate swings away from agenda-setting Internet companies, they realize that even large lobbying budgets are not enough to help. Under the guise of helping governments prepare for the age of artificial intelligence, candidates with previous executive roles at web players stand for public office, helping to restore the bridge between the two groups.
Amazon launches a mass-market Alexa development kit by 2020
The success of the Raspberry Pi and the importance of developer commitment to the Alexa platform prompt Amazon to launch a hardware and software development kit. It is an extension of existing developer initiatives that offers kits that are tested, optimized and certified. It is packaged and sold at cost and used as a stepping stone for its broader developer kits and developer ecosystem.
Amazon buys a major retailer in Europe by 2019
Following its acquisition of US-based Whole Foods Market, Amazon seeks to replicate the strategy in another region. It may extend its Prime Now arrangement with Morrisons in the UK by acquiring the entire supermarket chain. Or it could go for a name with outlets in multiple countries, such as Lidl. Either way it is a multibillion-dollar move.
CCS Insight CEO, Shaun Collins comments, “This year marks the biggest CCS Insight Predictions event to date, with delegates travelling from around the world to attend. The sheer number of predictions reflects the expanding coverage and depth of our research, from new topics like workplace collaboration and edge computing to important areas such as mobile networks, devices and the Internet of things”.