By Anthea Nadin, Data Centre Solutions Specialist for Aptronics
With the rate at which technology is evolving today, it can be difficult to keep up with all the new trends, and particularly the related buzzwords that seem to come into common usage overnight. Buzzwords also have a way of evolving with time and use, and it’s worth the effort to check-in again from time to time to make sure that we are all speaking the same language, and clarify what we mean by these terms, to prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings.
More and more organisational leaders are mindful of the trends and buzzwords that surround them. They make the effort to familiarise themselves with these developments, delving deeper into those that may prove valuable, aware that ignoring them may affect their business’s ability to effectively compete. There are products, philosophies and methodologies, for instance, that can benefit the entire company by improving productivity, flexibility, and more – all of which are a prerequisite to remain competitive in the modern business landscape.
With that in mind, let’s briefly unpack some of the bigger buzzwords that are making headlines currently.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT refers to any object or” thing” with a unique identifier that can transfer data over a network without needing any human interference to actively pass that data on. Typical examples include sports wearables (smart watches, activity trackers), medical devices (heart monitor implants, insulin pumps), animals with biochip transponders, and environmental sensors. IoT devices either act as our senses, collecting data that can be turned into deeper insights and better decisions, or they act, giving systems the ability to act on those decisions. An example of this could be modern active tags placed in hard hats on high-risk sites. In this instance, access control management systems only allow individuals wearing a hard hat entrance to certain environments, ensuring safety compliance while location services can assist in accurately locating all people in an emergency.
5G is the next big generation of mobile connectivity. It’s much faster, more reliable, and offers substantially more capacity on the network than its predecessors (3G and 4G/LTE). This elevation in performance will cater not only to consumers’ shift to video and live-streaming on social media, but also the growing demand to connect with and control IoT technology. A lot of data is created by such devices, so they need a network that can handle the load.
“Cloud” is a catch-all term for the flexible and on-demand delivery of IT resources like computing, storage, networking, development platforms and applications; or services like data protection (backups and recovery), Disaster Recovery (DR), music streaming or even social networking. In turn, Hybrid cloud – or “Hybrid IT” as some are now referring to it – essentially combines on-site IT services and infrastructure (configured to deliver to business the flexible and on-demand capabilities expected of cloud and “as-a-service” deployments) while leveraging any value-adding capabilities of external cloud providers. This hybrid approach gives businesses greater choice and flexibility.
Virtualisation entails creating a software-based representation of something physical, like servers, storage, network functions and desktops. This decoupling of various workloads and functions from underlying hardware allows for consolidated computing and storage resources to be allocated to workloads as needed, while offering greater resilience and flexibility when upgrading or changing infrastructure components.
A data centre is a facility that houses IT infrastructure and services. A traditional setup includes all computing, storage and networking components which are appropriately connected, cabled and mounted within racks. This infrastructure hosts and runs various applications that support and enable the business.
Due to the increase in data created and collected from IoT devices, it makes sense to process this data as close to where it is created as possible instead of sending it across vast networks, which would add to the network load and negatively impact performance, analysis and response times. Edge computing optimises networked and cloud-based solutions by processing data created at the edge of the network – as close to the source as possible. This reduces the bandwidth needed, and thus optimises performance and response time.
The intelligent edge leverages edge computing, bringing applications and data together to create new digital experiences for businesses, employees and customers. Employee experiences can be transformed with more modern, secure, digital workplaces, while places like hospitals, schools, shops, hotels and tourist destinations are turned into intelligent spaces offering valuable services to clients and driving efficiencies overall. The intelligent edge drives the business and operational value of IoT.
Enterprise mobility encompasses where employees work from, what devices they can access work from, how they access data, and the infrastructure, applications and tools that enable and support them. Protecting and securing corporate data from unauthorised access, while still enabling this flexibility of movement and access, is a central concern within the enterprise mobility realm. This said, intelligent workspaces push the envelope, often incorporating IoT elements, helping employees to work and collaborate in new ways, and creating a more engaging and efficient experience for employees and visitors alike.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is the development of “humanlike intelligence“ in machines and computer systems. This enables them to learn, reason, problem-solve, present their findings, and even act based on the information they have learned. AI adapts as it processes data, learning from the patterns inherent in that information so that it can eventually predict based on those patterns. Many industries have seen benefits through the adoption of AI, with examples such as fraud detection, self-driving cars and intelligent personal assistants. Through image classification and object recognition, AI has even been known to assist in detecting cancer on medical scans.
Machine learning is an aspect of AI that focuses on turning pattern recognition into algorithms, which in turn gives AI the ability to learn from and make predictions based on inputted data. Data analytics, meanwhile, is the actual act of examining raw data, identifying patterns and offering actionable insights. Customer spending habits, for instance, can potentially be identified based on existing information, which then allows business owners to plan potential product launches or even initiate targeted product marketing based on client preferences and behaviour.
But which technology should a business focus on?
Simply put, there is value in becoming familiar with the current IT buzzwords and, by extension, the technological trends they represent. It encourages conversation which can spark inspiration and ideas – and it is those ideas that can give a business a competitive edge in this evolving economy.
IT and technology should enable a business, and every company can benefit greatly by leveraging the experience and expertise of vendors and partners to help it on its “adoptive” journey. The likes of business enterprise mobility and hybrid IT functionality are already available today after all. Organisations merely need to reach out to their preferred supplier to find out how they can take advantage of these technologies, and, more importantly, how they can enable their business for a more productive and efficient tomorrow.