If You Thought Your Technology Was Smart, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

As the digital transformation takes hold, we’ll see machines teaching other machines and technology that can anticipate and act.

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If You Thought Your Technology Was Smart, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

We're entering an era where machines can teach machines and technology can anticipate and act. Yikes!

There are lots of things that technology can already do that I sort of figured would forever be reserved for sci-fi movies. The fact that driverless cars have been invented is a concept I still can’t believe, and I truly hope it’s a long time before they outnumber the cars driven by someone texting next to me. But IDC chief research officer Crawford Del Prete has seen the future and he believes we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to what technology can—and will—do. He talked about his vision for the evolution of IT at the Extreme Networks Mobility Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., earlier this month.

We recently emerged from the era of technological experimentation, said Del Prete, with tools like iPhones, tablets and more serving as a canvas on which we can all paint. From 2015 through 2021, we’ll see “rapid, accelerated change” and “multiplied innovation,” including things like augmented and virtual reality. From there, we’ll enter a world of technological autonomy in 2022, he said, where technology can anticipate and act, creating leverage for other systems and watching machines train other machines.

“We’re going to see technology develop what I call ‘superpowers at scale,’” Del Prete said at the Extreme Networks Mobility Summit.

I know Del Prete wasn’t trying to scare me, but he sort of did when he mentioned machines teaching other machines. Isn’t this the plot of a summer blockbuster or 20 of them, where robots take over the planet from humans?

Worldwide IT spending is declining and steadying out over the next five years to about 3 percent per year from 2017 to 2021, Del Prete said. That doesn’t mean big things aren’t on the horizon and sweeping changes aren’t coming soon to a world near you.

“The digital disruption is real,” he said. “Technology is pervading everything we do.”

Among the challenges in the ever-evolving and rapidly changing world of technology is finding qualified people who understand and keep up with those changes, Del Prete said.

“We can’t find enough people with the right IT skills, but we’re in perpetual beta with a lot of the technology we’re using today,” he said.

And, while the technology grabs a lot of the headlines because it’s what people hold in their hands or swipe with their fingers or talk to when they need to hear a corny joke, there’s something far more important.

Everybody wants to talk about the technology, but they forget about the infrastructure. If you build a great house on a crappy foundation, that foundation is going to crumble and you’re going to be left with nothing. – Crawford Del Prete, Extreme Networks Mobility Summit 2017

Del Prete sees a slow, gradual shift away from on-premises information storage, saying companies “will have public and private clouds for as long as all of us in this room are all working.” He wonders how IT companies will help their customers leverage the data they’re collecting and sees a world where “technology is going to fade into the background because it’s going to be everywhere.”

“Technology is transforming industries,” he said. “It can be used to create different experiences in health care than what you get in retail. Verticals are being redefined by technology and now you have to be able to use that technology to gain better insights.”

The only insight I want is one that teaches me how to stay one step ahead of my refrigerator. I knew I should’ve paid closer attention in those math and science classes in school.

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