Kathy Gibson is at IDC Directions in Woodmead – Trends and directions in the IT space could start sounding a bit repetitive – but digital transformation is real as the fourth chapter of the 3rd Platform sees innovation multiplied to drive the digital economy.

“We are starting to see it in the way businesses are structured,” says Mark Walker, associate vice-president: South Africa at IDC. “Businesses today are almost all dependent on technology.”

In fact, we are seeing a new generation of CIOs emerging who are not afraid of new technology, he adds.

Multiplied innovation is all about scale, Walker explains. “It is all about scale, and the impact on your business, society and the environment. What are the use cases of technology?”

The end goal of sustainable scaling is in sight, although we are currently in the technology phase that is focused on platforms and communities.

“The Ubers and AirBnBs are fixing problems that exist in a particular community – but every business has the same problems. IoT, AI, blockchain and natural interfaces are the tools we use now. But we are moving to autonomous systems that mitigate complexity at scale. The enablers for this will be things like AI and quantum computing.”

In fact, the edge will be the new area of innovation, Walker says. The explosion of apps is also driving business opportunities.

Insights are still important, allowing businesses to extend businesses. This is driven largely by societal norms, where the expectation is that technology will deliver quickly and effectively.

Underlying all of this is trust, with a move towards ambient security becoming vital, Walker adds.

Cloud is more important than ever: by 2022, nearly 40% of core IT spending will be cloud related, and this will rise to 80% by 2028.

By 2022, more than 40% of organisations’ cloud deployments will include edge computing, and 25% of endpoint devices and systems will execute AI algorithms

By 2022, the top five cloud megaplatforms will host 85% of infrastructure as a service/platform as a service (IaaS/PaaS) deployments – by 2022, over 1-million apps and services will be available in the top five service providers’ marketplaces.

“In three years’ time, 90% of the global 1 000 will be on hybrid or multi-cloud environments,” Walker points out. “Things to consider are what this means for your customers and your business.”

When it comes to the apps explosion, we can expect 500-million new logical apps to be created by 2023 – a number equal to the installed base of applications built over the past 40 years.

By 2022, 90% of all new apps will feature microservices architecture, and 35% of all production apps will be cloud-native.

Walker adds that, by 2022, three out of four new apps will feature a majority of content sourced from other developers and accessed form a code repository or external services.

In fact, by 2027, a new class of developers producing code without customer scripting will extends the developer population by 50%, accounting for 30% of the developer population.

“These are international trends, but we are part of the global community, Walker explains. “We are a cable latency behind the rest of the world.”

IoT will be in the middle of everything, he adds: there will be 80-billion devices online by 2035, creating 180 zettabytes of data and 250 00 unique IoT apps and services by 2020.

By 2022, 50% of the initial analytics of IoT activity will occur at the edge, Walker explains. “This has to be instant, and it will have implications for your infrastructure.”

The digital twin is already a big issue, he adds. “Digital twin can reduce cost and improve productivity – it is also more secure, more reliable, with less overhead.”

Manual processes and analytics are moving quickly, Walker points out. For instance, by 2023, organisations using IoT-enabled video analytics will replace manual processes to include workforce productivity by 50%.

Blockchain is progressing rapidly, Walker says. “Blockchain is still associated with cryptocurrencies, but it about a lot more than that. There is a lot that needs to be understood better.”

AI-based automation will start to change the game. Walker advises that we will move quickly from human-led insights, decisions and actions first to human-led machine supported, then machine-led human supported, followed by machine led human governed activity and finally machine controlled.

“And this will be reality in five years,” Walker says. “It is not far off.”

All of these new innovations introduce new levels of risk.

By 2020, more than 60% of security spending will shift to protecting scalable edge infrastructure and applications.

By 2022 50% of severs will encrypt data at rest and in motion; over 50% of security alerts will be handled buy AI-powered automation and 150-million people will have blockchain=based digital identities,

And, by 2023, the number of cybersecurity companies will drop by nearly 40% from 2019. “Why?” asks Walker. “Because of cloud  because the top five cloud provider will provide batter security than they can.”

As technology shifts, CIOs see their role changing.

While many CIOs still have an operational function, they need to shift towards being a business service broker who provides business capabilities and improve operations with the existing infrastructure. The final goal, however, is to become a chief innovation officer, focusing on delivering business innovation to increase revenues, margins and new products.

“We need to start thinking about organisations can use technology to get to the future we are talking about.”

The bottom line, Walker says, is that the digital transformation opportunity is real – in fact the market is worth a massive $7,5-trillion, with the lion’s share of future growth coming from digital transformation.