In 2018, these leading-edge technologies will take root at the enterprise

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The noise surrounding artificial intelligence is deafening. But the reality is that AI requires deep mathematical knowledge often found only at universities or tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Amazon. The truth is that it will take several more years before mainstream businesses can create their own AI models and algorithms in real time.

To help fill the void, AI marketplaces, modeled after app stores, will begin to emerge in two years’ time. These online emporiums will resell specialized AI services and algorithms that businesses can immediately purchase and deploy.

But for some companies this is not good news, since AI is only as intelligent as the data behind it, and many organizations are still not very good at harvesting their data. They are at risk, because by 2021 any business that still doesn’t have AI embedded in its applications will be at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Here are four other major business technologies set to accelerate in 2018:

Cloud deployments will accelerate
This past year, an increasing number of companies went from kicking the tires to actually deploying cloud and big data technologies. In 2018, more will follow suit. Industry researcher IDC predicts that enterprise spending on cloud services and infrastructure will exceed $530 billion by 2021, and that more than 90 percent of large companies will make use of multiple cloud services.

Take NTT Docomo, a leading Japanese telecommunications conglomerate, for example. NTT is currently building a cloud based enterprise data lake on AWS to improve efficiency and collaboration across its entire portfolio of companies. Executives across many industries are now realizing that if they are to take advantage of big data analytics, they need to allow users to access data without requesting authorization from multiple systems.

To achieve their aims, many of these companies are taking a hybrid approach to the cloud, which affords them substantial cost savings while still allowing them to retain and protect their data and intellectual property on their own premises.

The use of digital twins will peak
Digital representations of physical structures, or digital twins, have been used for years in complex 3D renderings. But innovations in data analytics and the Internet of Things have prompted advances in 3D modeling that can augment business decision making. In 2018, more organizations will implement digital twins to visualize complex technologies and achieve new efficiencies.

“The adoption of, and hype around, digital twins is growing,” says Roy Schulte, vice president at Gartner. “They’re the next step to an IoT driven world.”

The EU’s banking API revolution begins
The European Union’s PSD2 directive takes effect in January, creating new competition for banks, more options for consumers and new business models based on sharing data.

Under PSD2, consumers can authorize third parties, such as Amazon, to directly access their bank accounts, without having to go through PayPal or Visa. The new regulations open up proprietary APIs to new players and mandate stronger security and consumer protections.

As the European banking industry swerves from the slow to technology’s high-speed lane, issues like data security, data integrity and consumer trust will vault to the fore, and APIs will become mission-critical for banking. And any U.S. firm doing business in the EU will have to comply with these new regulations.

Edge computing gets edgier
For IoT, self-driving cars and the next phase of AR wearables to go mainstream, computing power needs to move out of the data center to the edge of the network. Think of it this way: No one will want to ride in a self-driving car that could encounter network lag when trying to avoid on-coming vehicle.

But to enable real- time computing on edge devices, new analytics capabilities are needed. For example, to compensate for a devices limited computing and storage resources, an application needs to be able to sort through the terabytes of information it is receiving and quickly separate the wheat from the chaff. These edge computing technologies have begun to proliferate, and companies like long-haul truckers and truck manufacturers are already taking note.

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