Most people would agree that the twenty ten decade was one of the better decades as we recovered from the worst recession since the great depression of the 1930’s. Unlike the twenty Aughts (2000 -2009) that was fueled by greed, the twenty tens were fueled by developing technology.
If I were to choose the three top technology trends over the past 10 years, I would choose the cloud, 4G, and Artificial Intelligence.
The 20 tens will go down in history as the first decade of the cloud where this new technology moved from experimentation to an integral part of almost every IT portfolio. After spending billions of dollars on development of the cloud, AWS finally turned a profit in 2015 and the profits were huge, launching them into the lead of the hyper-center cloud vendors. Azure was also launched during this decade and Office 360 brought relief to IT email systems. Early concerns about security have largely been resolved to the point that the primary cloud platforms are considered more secure than on premise IT. Cloud removed the time and capital burdens of IT and enabled many new companies to be “born in the cloud” vaulting them to unicorn status (billion dollar valuation) in just a few years. Cloud has enabled the “as a service” business model and enabled collaboration through open source and DevOps. The next challenge for cloud to overcome is latency which we see clouds begin to address with edge computing.
4G was the technology that untethered us from WiFi hotspots and truly enabled us to be mobile. Its faster download speeds were a boon to video gamers and social media users on twitter, WeChat, and other messaging apps. But for the enterprise user, it freed us from the confines of the office and enabled us to securely video conference and email our colleagues on our mobile hotspots. It has changed the way we work and made us more productive. Since I live in Santa Clara, I can save several hours when I don’t need to commute into the office every day at prime time. I can do my emails and phone calls in the morning from home, and cruise into work on the off hours or just stay at home if I don’t have to work with people in person. It also expanded my work window which may not be a good thing. We are beginning to transition to 5G as this decade comes to a close. While 4G is enough for my personal internet needs, 5G should give a tremendous boost to the internet of things as the cloud expands to the edge.
AI: Building Smart Machines
Early in this decade IBM’s Watson, a question answering computer was able to defeat two of the all-time champions of the quiz game show Jeopardy. Watson demonstrated its ability to answer more questions that were posed to it, faster than its human competitors. Watson had to apply natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning technologies to open domain questions. Watson knew his Beatles songs, Olympic history, literary criminals, but was not very familiar with his Harry Potter. The competition was close for a while until Double Jeopardy where the prizes and penalties for wrong answers were of double value. Then Watson pulled ahead and won easily. Shortly thereafter Google's DeepMind AlphaGo artificial intelligence defeated the world's number one Go player, Ke Jie. These accomplishments, helped to spur technology companies to apply these AI learnings to commercial applications in everything from smart home appliances to smart cities.
AI is no longer a novelty. It is all around us, in our homes, our workspaces, our transportation and our personal devices. The capacity to use AI is fueled by the massive amount of data that we generate, which in turn generates even more data from AI’s use of that data as we search photos, videos, CT scans, and interpret audio and speech patterns. As the United States approaches its next presidential election, AI is being used to identify voter influencers and persuasive messaging. Like all technologies, AI can be used for good or bad and we must always be aware of the use of AI.
This past decade of the twenty tens was a great decade for society and much of that was enabled by technology. The three technologies that I consider to be the major technology trends were the cloud, 4G, and AI. I would like to hear what technologies you think made the biggest contributions to the enterprise and society in the past decade.
Looking forward to the next decade, twenty twenty, Paul Lewis, our Global CTO for Industry, and I put together a webinar for a look into the future on January 15 at 12pm EST. We will be looking at where AI will be in the future and other technologies like Quantum computing and DNA storage.
Today marks the end of the 2019 and the end of the twenty tens. I hope it has been a good year for you. As we look forward to the new year and the next decade, I wish you all a happy, safe and healthy New Year that carries on into the next decade and beyond.