IDC Canada recently presented its key technology predictions for Canada that will disrupt enterprises in the next 18-36 months. The predictions were tied to three main themes: business innovation, accelerated infrastructure, and the future of work. CDN also collected comments from executives about the predictions and their impact on the channel.

 

Don’t forget to check out our other predictions:


Not so digitally determined

There was a recurring message among technology vendors in 2018: Adopt the cloud and develop ways to collect and monetize data. But according to IDC Canada, by 2020, 20 per cent of Canadian enterprises will struggle to remain afloat as they fail to “develop digital competencies and ignore strategic opportunities to monetize data.” In 2018, only 11 per cent of enterprises felt like they had a single digital roadmap for themselves with a clear vision. Nearly 15 per cent had no digital roadmap at all.


Developer talent becomes scarce

Enterprises in 2018 were also encouraged by vendors to develop some software skills. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Tara Fine, channel chief for VMware Canada, says the skills gap in the country will push businesses in 2019 to invest in training and retraining programs for employees. “There’s room for more collaboration between vendors and the channel community to move the marker on closing this skills gap in 2019,” she says. IDC Canada says the Canadian IT skills gap expected to grow to 59,000 full-time employees by 2020. But Canada’s talent pool is nothing to scoff at. In a ranking of tech talent this past summer (by CBRE), Toronto was named North America’s fastest growing tech market. Ottawa and Montreal also ranked in the top 20 on the list.


Time to go vertical

After building the right team with the right skills, what does an enterprise do next? Build apps, of course. By 2021, more than 50 per cent of CIOs will deliver what IDC Canada is describing as “agile connectivity” via APIs and services to grow in real time verticalized use case applications. Additionally, 70 per cent of organizations currently do some custom app development today, and IDC Canada is expecting an explosive growth in new apps on new architecture in 2019, largely driven by line of business needs.


AI is my friend

We’re combining two AI-related predictions here. By 2020, IDC Canada is predicting that at least 30 per cent of Canadian enterprises will have adopted a form of “commodity” AI: non-deep learning AI that focuses on augmenting analytics with algorithms. Additionally, by 2024, 40 per cent of structured repeatable tasks will be automated and 25 pre cent of workers in knowledge-intensive tasks will have AI-infused software or other digitally connected technology as a “co-worker.”

But it’s not a simple matter of turning on a switch and getting machines to automate stuff. Peter Near, national director of solution engineering for VMware Canada, points to Deloitte research that says only 16 per cent of all businesses in Canada are using AI – and that percentage hasn’t changed in four years. “While Canada has been called a leader in the AI space, when it comes to operationalizing, our country is behind. More companies need to embrace connected IT environments if they are to use ML and AI effectively,” he says.


Multi-cloud and best of breed

Cloud is complex, but it looks like enterprises are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology and switching dynamically between cloud providers in a “best of breed” approach. This will continue in 2019. IDC Canada says nearly 35 per cent of Canadian enterprises are using this approach when it comes to their multi-cloud strategy, closely followed by enterprises standardizing one or two strategic providers across IaaS/PaaS, at 33 per cent. “In 2019, multi-cloud will be the norm,” says Ric Lewis, senior vice-president and general manager, software defined & cloud group, and CTO of hybrid IT for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “This will provide organizations with the integration and flexibility to address any workload. With increased cloud adoption, the pace of business has changed as well.”

Peter Near, national director of solution engineering for VMware Canada, says organizations undergoing digital transformations will have to become well-versed in hybrid cloud. “Taking the time to revisit and modernize the cloud strategy is an important part of this transition – organizations need a strong digital foundation to navigate the addition of public cloud in their IT infrastructure.”


Throwing money at 5G

5G is coming, and from 2019 to 2021, Canadian wireless carriers will invest billions in 5G in order to bring latency sensitive applications, such as autonomous vehicles, rescue drones and factor robots, to life. And unlike the transition from 3G to 4G, the shift to 5G will require entirely new architectures to support it, says Jeff Gudewicz, chief product officer for Wilson Electronics. “5G will require all new infrastructure, new towers, more radios and small cells,” he explains. “We [Wilson] have yet to go into direct partnerships with Canadian partners, we’ve just started partnering with North American operators.” Gudewicz also indicates that Wilson is paying close attention to Canada’s decisions around what frequency bands carriers can operate under.

In March, Canada barred large telecom carriers in Canada from bidding on more than 40 per cent of the airwaves used to carry cellular signals in an upcoming auction, the federal government announced yesterday. The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) released the final rules for a public auction of 600-MHz spectrum that will be held March 2019.


Edge computing … not quite there yet, but we’re getting there

Ten per cent of Canadian enterprises will pilot new architectures, but mainstream edge computing won’t take off until 2021. IDC Canada says 28 per cent of Canadian enterprises currently have an edge computing strategy, while 65 per cent do not. And what are the biggest reasons why enterprises are pursuing edge computing you ask? Data processing at the edge and improved security. “These dynamics are material for realizing the promise of the IoT: to capitalize on the vast amounts of data created by the ‘things’ at the edge, driving automation and creating new customer experiences and business models,” says Tom Bradicich, vice-president and general manager of converged servers, edge and IoT systems for HPE.

Jeff Clarke, vice chairman of products and operations for Dell Technologies, is predicting the rapid emergence of “micro hubs.” “It won’t be long before we begin to see micro-hubs lining our streets – mini data centres if you will – that will also give rise to new “smart” opportunities for real-time insights happening on the corner of your street,” he explains.


Security and privacy, of course

Thought security and privacy was going to take a backseat in 2019? Not a chance. By 2020, privacy and personal data ownership becomes a new revenue stream for consumer-focused vendors, and by 2021, security services spending will surpass spending on security products. As cloud, IoT and mobility solutions produce more attack surfaces, we’re going to see an increased investment in managed security services. The rollout and updates to privacy laws is also creating business opportunities for channel partners. “Organizations need to select a digital foundation that will make it possible to move data easily and efficiently should changes in laws demand it,” says Sean Forkan, country manager for VMware Canada.

In 2019, we’ll see advances in supply chain traceability, and blockchain will likely play a role here thanks to its ability to ensure trust and safety in sourcing, while also securing information and data about goods and services along the way. Manav Gupta, director, engineer for cloud native competency at IBM, says channel partners will play a huge role in implementing blockchain across Canada. “For the channel, it’s a great opportunity to provide value added services,” he says. “Channel is also going to be critical in addressing the skills shortage in the blockchain space. Blockchain is an area where Canada is punching above its weight.”


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Alex Coop
Editorial director for IT World Canada and its sister publications, and former community reporter. Also a great pick up basketball player | acoop@itwc.ca