Nick Odero
Nick Odero Enterprise Regional Lead

The last quarter of 2019 presents a great opportunity to reflect on the technologies that have shaped the business landscape in the past year and to look at those that are expected to transform operations in 2020.

Digital transformation is becoming a critical part of future planning for many businesses in Africa. This as global brands, local businesses and government agencies look to leverage technology to serve their clients, improve their business processes and outdo their competitors.

IT transformation will remain constant and Kenyan enterprises need to keep up to date with all the latest technology trends to ensure they aren’t left behind. Here are the top trends to look out for in 2020:

The Internet of Things

Gartner expects that 20.8 billion “things” will be connected by 2020, excluding smartphones, tablets and computers. All these “things” mean increased data and traffic across already congested networks. The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will usher in the need for ubiquitous public networks and might create an increased demand for 5G connectivity that’s capable of handling the increased traffic.

Augmented analytics

Data scientists will have a tough time sifting through data as there are increasing amounts of it to prepare, analyse and group to draw up accurate conclusions. This will mean that businesses could miss key insights from hypotheses if data scientists don’t have the capacity to accurately explore the data.

Data scientists will use automated algorithms to explore more hypotheses. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated, meaning that augmented analytics and automated insights will eventually be embedded into enterprise applications.

AI and machine learning

We are seeing first-hand the potential of this technology coming to fruition. In fact, you have probably already engaged with AI in one form or another and were not even aware of it. It's starting to change various sectors including retail, healthcare, manufacturing and more.

Advances in AI will also demonstrate the capabilities of the virtual assistants we know and love, like Siri and Alexa, expanding dramatically. Not only will these assistants search the web for us, they will also read our emails, respond to messages and even pay our bills or place orders for products and services.

Voice-based applications

Technologies like Alexa and Siri have already introduced us to the power of voice in conducting daily tasks, but expect to see this tech evolve in the future. You might find upcoming tech conducting itself with a voice command. Perhaps every device we surround ourselves with will be able to function on voice command. These voice applications will possess a mix of natural language processing, AI and machine learning.

While the possibilities for application and potential benefits are immense, it’s interesting to note that an ongoing study by McKinsey seems to prove that machines should stick to tactical applications and leave the strategic thinking to humans.

Cloud computing

More data means a greater need for somewhere to store all this information. More companies will move to the cloud because of the productivity and performance benefits and the cost savings that can be achieved with this. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would invest more than $100 million over the next five years in developing cloud technology in Kenya and Nigeria.

These are just some of the IT transformation possibilities on the horizon for the future. The key is to have an early awareness of these opportunities. These and many other innovations will undoubtedly change how we conduct business and the way we live our lives. The businesses that leverage these digital advancements will remain in the lead.

Cloud computing has become a key driver in the march towards all things virtual as we optimise on the physical space. This has a direct cost saving in terms of location and placement.

We are also seeing a change in the work environment because infrastructure enhancements affect how we perform our professional obligations since we can now work more flexibly. We can also optimise our output since it’s now more economical to have smart applications that can connect the information flow. This allows production and communication departments to function without physical limitations.

Digital globalisation has become part of our ecosystem as we embrace e-commerce as an essential business practice in our work environment. Simple functions like online e-medicine give the most remote medical practitioner access to the best experts in the world. The latter can offer simultaneous and skilled advice to numerous sites across the globe at a minimal cost. This allows an essential service to be accessible to all parts of the world.

The impact on technology cannot be underestimated since it has become the driving force behind any current and future outlook for forward-looking infrastructure – from automated utilities to industrial processes of all kinds. Already, assembly lines have taken over routine functions. They work efficiently with minimal breakdowns and the delays that usually result from industrial action.

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