Under current policies, said the IEA this week, the world would see increasing strains on almost all aspects of energy security and “a major additional rise” in energy-related carbon emissions.
And under a new policies scenario, incorporating measures and targets already announced by governments worldwide, global energy demand would still grow by more than a quarter through 2040, leading to increased demand for oil.
Even under a sustainable development scenario, aimed at achieving the energy goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda and the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement, renewables growth falls short of delivering a climate change cure.
Instead, said the IEA, society would also need to rely on energy efficiency and largely untested technologies such as renewable hydrogen synthesis and carbon capture, utilization and storage, as well as write off current investments in new coal plants.
“Most emissions linked to energy infrastructure are already essentially locked in,” the IEA explained in a press release. “In particular, coal-fired power plants, which account for one third of energy-related CO2 emissions today, represent more than a third of cumulative locked-in emissions to 2040.”
The situation is particularly grave in Asia, where coal plants have an average age of 11 years old and are supposed to carry on running for decades, compared to the 40-year average age of coal-fired generation assets in the U.S. and Europe, said the IEA.
In press materials, the IEA’s executive director Dr. Fatih Birol said the agency had reviewed all current and under-construction energy infrastructure around the world and found it would account for around 95 percent of all emissions permitted under international climate targets.
“This means that if the world is serious about meeting its climate targets, then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies,” Birol said.
“But we also need to be much smarter about the way that we use our existing energy system,” he said. “To be successful, this will need an unprecedented global political and economic effort.”
In the IEA’s sustainable development scenario, electrification grows strongly, but so too does the direct use of renewables such as bioenergy, solar and geothermal to provide heat and mobility.
The share of renewables in the power mix would need to rise from a quarter today to two-thirds in 2040. For heating it would need to go up from 10 percent today to 25 percent in 2040, and in transport it would need to rise from 3.5 percent to 19 percent.
The scenario foresees vast increases in wind and solar PV generation, up from 1.5 petawatt-hours a year in 2017 to 14.1 petawatt-hours in 2040. Electric vehicle adoption would also have to soar, from 9.2 million cars in 2017 to more than 933 million in 2040.
Wind, solar and electric vehicles are all commercially viable industries, though.
What is perhaps more worrying about the IEA’s sustainable development scenario is that it relies heavily on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), a technology which has yet to reach commercial scale and which Wood Mackenzie believes will have a “limited impact on achieving future targets.”
Under the sustainable development scenario, CCUS would have to go from capturing 22.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2017 to more than 2,364 gigatons in 2040, or more than a hundredfold increase in 23 years.
Even organizations that stood to gain under the IEA scenarios offered guarded responses to the latest World Energy Outlook.
Noting that the IEA has shortened the length of time in its forecast at which wind would become the largest grid power source in Europe, Giles Dickson, CEO at the industry body WindEurope, said, “While it’ll be good to be No. 1 in electricity, electricity is only 24 percent of Europe’s energy.”
“To decarbonize the whole energy system, we’re going have to start getting large amounts of wind and other renewables into heating, transport and industrial processes,” he added.
On the plus side, though, the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook scenarios have historically been criticized for underestimating renewables growth.
The Eindhoven University of Technology researcher Auke Hoekstra, for example, has shown that World Energy Outlook reference and new policy scenarios for solar energy capacity additions have been massively beneath what has happened in real life.
Policymakers may be hoping the same is true this year. But it might be necessary not to wait too long to find out.
A Frenchman is credited with being the first to discover the photovoltaic effect that produces electricity from sunlight. The first solar panel was built in the US. But when Abu Dhabi decided to build the world’s largest individual solar power project, they looked east for help.
The country partnered with Chinese and Japanese companies to construct a facility, which opened this year, with a peak capacity of 1.18 gigawatts generated by 3.2 million solar panels. That’s because Asia, more than any other region on the planet, and China, more than any other nation, currently represent the future of solar energy, and are at the heart of the ensuing industrywide transformation from fossil fuels to renewable and nuclear energy.
Decarbonization is changing the face of energy and the world economy in more ways than most consumers — and even most executives — appreciate. Besides the transition from molecule to electron, as this move toward electrification suggests, it is also shifting the industry’s economic base from West to East and reconfiguring the hierarchy of companies and geographies that define energy.
Asia is the 800-pound gorilla in the energy story. First, its continued economic growth and rising standard of living will make its constituent nations pre-eminent energy consumers for the foreseeable future. A study by BP indicates that Asia, including China and India, will represent 43% of global energy demand by 2040, and through that year, the region will account for more than 50% of the growth in demand. In contrast, energy demand among the 36 nations in the OECD, which includes most big economies in the Americas and Europe, will be flat.
China’s sunny outlook
Second, places like China are already among the most important suppliers of non-fossil fuel-based energy and technology. By 2017, China owned 72% of the world’s solar photovoltaic module production; in comparison, the US has 1% and Europe 2%. Of the eight top producers, six are Asian. Not including hydropower, China has somewhere around one-third of the world’s installed renewable capacity; the EU has a little over a quarter; and the US accounts for 14%. China also leads in the generation of hydropower.
As the electrification of transportation advances and demand grows for renewable energy storage solutions, China looks likely to monopolize here, too. China produces at least two-thirds of the world’s production capacity for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles (EVs), mobile phones and laptop computers (some estimates put their share at closer to 70%), and it looks likely to hang on to that lead through at least 2028. And besides being the largest market for EVs, China also controls the bulk of production.
China is the third-largest miner of the primary raw material used to produce those batteries, lithium — often referred to as white petroleum because of its mounting economic importance. Chinese producers are also buying up lithium reserves in Chile, the world’s second-largest lithium miner (Australia takes the top spot).
A fundamental overhaul
Of course, climate change is forcing the energy industry to undergo an existential transformation that may eventually see the elimination of fossil fuels entirely. While most executives at oil companies will be dead or at least retired before that transition proceeds to what seems its inevitable end, the slowing of demand is already being felt.
By contrast, the demand for electricity seems insatiable. Electrification rates continue to rise across the globe, with Asia expected to be close to 100% coverage by 2030. Much of that growth in demand may be supplied by renewables and nuclear power rather than fossil fuel-generated power, although natural gas is expected to play a role for years to come. It also may be accomplished through a decentralization of generating capacity, such as recent rural electrification projects in places like Malawi and Bangladesh where farmers and villages use solar panels and small generators to provide their own electricity.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?
Moving to clean energy is key to combatting climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated. Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago.
Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.
Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.
Yet despite the urgency of climate concerns and the rapidly falling cost of renewable energy, the speed at which this existential energy transition will happen is uncertain, as pre- and post-tax subsidies on fossil fuels remain in place, discouraging consumers to make the change to a more environmentally beneficial and frequently cheaper source of energy. The International Monetary Fund estimates post-tax subsidies on fossil fuels like coal and petroleum — a result of unpriced externalities, such as societal costs from air pollution and global warming — totalled $5.2 trillion in 2017.
Regardless of the speed of transformation, there’s no doubt it is already well underway. That’s why places like the United Arab Emirates (of which Abu Dhabi is the largest) are building solar power and nuclear facilities, despite being the world’s eighth-largest oil producer — and making the transition with Asian partners. They see the future.
As a key input into concrete, the most widely used construction material in the world, cement is a major contributor to climate change . The chemical and thermal combustion processes involved in the production of cement are a large source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Each year, more than 4 billion tonnes of cement are produced, accounting for around 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions.
Per Middle East Magazine and according to Citi’s MENA Projects Tracker, $2.5 trillion of projects are under development or actually under construction across the MENA region. Of these, 90% are in the Gulf and 60% are in just two countries: the UAE and Saudi Arabia. By sector, just over $1 trillion of this total is being invested in MENA real estate projects and $812bn in infrastructural schemes. The scale of this investment can be seen in comparison with the $376bn that is being spent on the lynchpin of the regional economy: oil and gas. The report’s author, Farek Soussa, commented: “There is a heavy bias in the UAE towards real estate projects, while infrastructure projects dominate in Qatar. The oil and gas sector is of greatest significance in Algeria, while Jordan is spending most on power and water.” Cement is of course the main ingredient that is an absolute must in any building and / or infrastructure development.
Shifting to a Paris-compliant pathway, with net-zero CO2 emissions by around 2050,7 will require going further and moving faster on all available solutions, as well as making sure that the next generation of innovative technology options is ready as soon as possible.
To illustrate the scale of this challenge, Figure 1 shows the decarbonization pathway set out by the IEA and CSI’s 2018 Technology Roadmap.8 This scenario shows action on four mitigation levers – energy efficiency, fuel switching, clinker substitution and innovative technologies (including CCS) – to achieve CO2 reductions consistent with at least a 50 per cent chance of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Figure 1: Towards a Paris-compatible pathway
Source: Authors’ analysis of scenario set out in International Energy Agency and Cement Sustainability Initiative (2018), Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Transition in the Cement Industry, Paris: International Energy Agency, https://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php/key-issues/climate-protection/technology-roadmap (accessed 24 Apr. 2018). The B2DS is based on data in International Energy Agency (2017), Energy Technology Perspectives 2017.
Note: RTS stands for ‘reference technology scenario’, 2DS stands for ‘2°C Scenario’ and B2DS stands for ‘Beyond 2°C Scenario’. For descriptions of each model, refer to the original source. The ETP B2DS and roadmap models are not directly comparable as they are based on slightly different assumptions as to future demand for cement but they are shown together here as an indicative comparison.
As recognized in the 2018 roadmap, there is a considerable gap between this scenario and a scenario consistent with countries’ more ambitious aspirations in the Paris Agreement of limiting the temperature increase even further, towards 1.5°C. The IEA’s Beyond 2°C Scenario (B2DS) indicated earlier is only an illustration of the challenge such an emissions reduction would represent in relation to current industry ambitions.
Shifting towards B2DS will require more ambition across each of these levers, particularly in the short term:
·Although many of the relatively straightforward gains have already been made, there is still scope for improvement in energy efficiency. Europe and the US now lag behind India and China on energy efficiency, due to the continuing use of older equipment, and will need to at least close this gap in the next decade if they are to meet industry targets. The key challenges will be the capital investment required and the fact that action on other levers such as alternative fuels and CCS may slow progress on energy efficiency.
·Shifting away from the use of fossil fuelsin cement production will also be key. China and India, in particular, have significant potential to switch to sustainable lower-carbon fuels. In Europe, cement plants have been shown to run on 90 per cent non-fossil fuels. A key challenge will be to ensure the availability of biomass from truly sustainable sources. Currently, the sector relies largely on waste-derived biomass; however, shifting towards a majority share of alternative fuels may eventually prompt the sector to turn to wood pellets.
·Clinker substitution involves replacing a share of the clinker content in cement with other materials. This could play a greater role than currently anticipated. Achieving an average global clinker ratio of 0.60 by 2050, as set out by the 2018 Technology Roadmap, has the potential to mitigate almost 0.2 gigatonnes (GT) of CO2 in 2050.9 The share of clinker needed can be reduced even further in individual applications, with the potential to lower the CO2 emissions of those applications by as much as 70–90 per cent. At the very ambitious end of the scale, if 70 per cent replacement was achieved on a global scale, this could represent almost 1.5 GT of CO2emissions saved in 2050.10 Clinker substitution is not only a very effective solution, but also one that can be deployed cheaply today, as it does not generally require investments in new equipment or changes in fuel sources. It is, therefore, especially important to scale up clinker substitution in the near term while more radical options, such as the introduction of novel and carbon-negative cements, are still under development. The greatest constraints are the uncertain availability of clinker substitute materials and the lack of customer demand for low-clinker cements.
·Many experts are understandably sceptical about the potential to rapidly scale up CCS. Although other technologies are included in this lever, as presented in Figure 1, in practice hopes are currently pinned on CCS. This is reflected in both the 2018 roadmap and other major modelling exercises today. Even if hopes for CCS prove optimistic, carbon-capture technology could still prove critical in moving to B2DS. Moreover, CCS could complement the development of some novel concretes, which rely on a source of pure captured CO2 for carbonation curing. One of the key challenges facing CCS is the cost of the technology versus that of other levers.
However, it will be impossible to even get close to B2DS without also achieving radical changes in cement consumption and breakthroughs in the development of novel cements:
·Most cement emissions scenarios depend on projections of consumptionthat deserve far greater scrutiny. Concrete demand can be reduced, sometimes by more than 50 per cent, by taking a new approach to design, using higher-quality concretes, substituting concrete for other materials, improving the efficiency with which it is used on construction sites, and increasing the share of concrete that is reused and recycled. Deploying an array of such demand-side approaches in key growth markets such as China, India and African countries will be essential if the sector is to reach net-zero emissions. Action on material efficiency will, however, depend on the cooperation and motivation of a host of actors beyond the cement sector.
·Moving towards net-zero emissions for all new construction will require a rapid scale-up in the deployment of novel cements. Some can achieve emissions reductions of more than 90 per cent. Others can sequester carbon, theoretically capturing more carbon than is emitted in their production, rendering them carbon-negative. So far, however, the majority of these products have failed to achieve commercial viability. Achieving breakthroughs in this area will require concerted investment in research and large-scale demonstration projects, as well as education and training of consumers to build the market for novel products.
Even with ambitious projections across all mitigation levers to meet the B2DS, more than o.8 GT of CO2 would still be emitted in 2050. These ‘residual emissions’ would need to be offset by other means. Achieving zero CO2 emissions, therefore, needs to remain an objective beyond 2050. Failure to do so will imply a greater reliance on negative-emissions technologies that have so far failed to scale.
The release of a major report looking at the state of nature presents a grim forecast for the future of humanity and the planet. Gitika Bhardwaj speaks to Sandra Diaz, co-chair of the report, about what’s driving this biodiversity crisis and how we can stop it before it’s too late.
Elks gallop in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. Elks have
been released into the wild to improve biodiversity and protect the ecosystem
of China’s largest freshwater lake. Photo: Getty Images.
Last week, 150
experts from 50 countries released a major report demonstrating that nature is declining globally
at rates unprecedented, with up to 1
million species threatened with extinction, more than at any other
time in human history. What is driving this global loss of biodiversity and how
is it different from previous waves of extinctions experienced on Earth?
believed that the Earth has experienced five mass extinctions in its history
but the crucial difference is that this time the threat is being caused by
over the past 50 years have been the cause of record losses in species – tens
to hundreds of times faster than the natural rate of extinction over the past
10 million years. Since 1970 alone, vertebrate populations have fallen by 40
per cent for land-based species, 84 per cent for freshwater species and 35 per
cent for marine species.
happening due to a number of human activities: accelerating land-use change
such as through farming and logging, overusing our seas and oceans such as
through fishing, polluting our air, soil and water systems, hunting and also –
voluntarily or involuntarily – transporting invasive species across distant
regions. And this is happening on an unprecedented, worldwide scale.
Human activities have significantly altered around three-quarters of all land and two-thirds of all oceans on the planet according to the report. From insect pollination that provides us with food to mangrove swamps that shield us from storms, how much do humans depend on nature and how much will it impact us if it continues to degrade at the current rate?
One of the
things the report highlights is the deep dependence of all humans on nature. We
depend on nature to have a fulfilling life no matter where we live – often
without realizing it. We depend on nature for our physical sustenance, cultural
continuity and sense of identity.
nature also regulates a number of processes that we don’t even notice that are
the basis of our economies and well-being such as clean water, protection from
environmental hazards, the pollination of crops and the regulation of the
climate. So we cannot live life as we know it, and as we enjoy it, without
In the report, we take stock of the different kinds of nature’s contributions to people and we conclude that, with the exception of the production of food, energy and raw materials, all of the other contributions nature gives to people – about 14 out 18 kinds – are declining globally.
analysed a number of scenarios, and in all of them, there is a sharp decrease
in nature and its capacity to regulate all of the Earth’s natural processes.
climate change is increasingly interacting with all of the other human-induced
drivers of biodiversity loss in complex ways, so the future looks extremely
grim for most people around the world, and much worse for some more than
others in just the next 30-40 years.
definitely. The IPCC has traditionally gotten much more attention but that is
because the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is much younger. This is the first global
biodiversity assessment since 2005 to present the state of biodiversity and
ecosystem services and what it means for humanity.
In contrast, the IPCC has decades of history, so we are following in their steps, inspired by them in the way we organize ourselves, and as a result, I think people are starting to listen.
We have been
pleasantly surprised at the amount of public attention we received when the
report was released last week. There are environmental movements that have been
focused on climate change that now – only one week after the release of the
report – have already announced that they will fight for nature as well as the climate
because they have realized you cannot fight for one without fighting for the
The report sheds
light on how the issues of sustainable development, climate change and
biodiversity are interrelated. How much, then, does tackling these issues
require an integrated approach, for example, through international agreements
including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on
climate change and the Aichi Targets on biodiversity? Do these instruments need
to be reformed in any way?
dependent on an integrated approach. In the report, we go to great lengths to
show how trying to fix human well-being for all, climate change and
biodiversity in isolation is not going to work – you actually risk making the
other two problems worse if you only try to fix one without considering the
instruments you mention need to consider all three pillars – a good quality of
life for all, the climate and biodiversity – in a far more integrated way than
has ever been done before. These instruments need to talk to each other and
make sure they consider each other when devising targets and implementing
in our assessment of the SDGs, we found that many of them do not explicitly
mention biodiversity which is surprising given that you cannot achieve
them without nature – the fabric of life.
What’s more, we need to focus much more on actions rather than on somewhat nebulous targets. There is a lot of synergy to be achieved in the three agreements and I think the people driving them are now much more prepared to listen than ever before.
The report has been
approved by 132 governments, with France announcing that it now aims to make
protecting biodiversity as important a priority as climate change, while
the G7 countries – in addition to Chile, Fiji, Gabon, Mexico,
Niger and Norway – have all announced their commitment to protecting
biodiversity in response to the report too. What action would you like to see
other governments take?
nutshell, I would like to see governments put their money where their words
are, so to speak. They all have expressed their concern about biodiversity loss
– and most of the governments, if not all, have praised the findings in our
report – but we now need action.
There are a
number of fixes that can be done easily and quickly such as creating more
protected areas, improving waste treatment systems, banning plastics, improving
fishing gear and recycling more. This can all help enormously but only if done
together because on their own it’s won’t be enough.
In order to
have a chance of containing the destruction of our natural world, we need to do
all of the above, in addition to tackling the root causes. That means
addressing the activities driving land-use change and changes in our seas and
oceans, climate change, pollution and the spread of invasive species.
these root causes are all related to our lifestyles. That’s why we say,
although the biodiversity crisis looks biological, the causes and solutions are
So governments need to integrate biodiversity considerations across all sectors – not just better environmental policies but also better policies related to agriculture, infrastructure and trade. Biodiversity is not just a concern for respective ministers of the environment – it’s a concern for all ministers since it’s a concern for all sectors.
It’s all about putting nature and the public good first rather than the narrow, economic interests of a minority. It’s as simple – and as difficult – as that.
Global research and advisory firm Gartner has highlighted the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2019 in its special report titled “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019”.
Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with substantial disruptive potential that is beginning to break out of an emerging state into broader impact and use, or which are rapidly growing trends with a high degree of volatility reaching tipping points over the next five years.
Cearley: The Intelligent Digital Mesh continues as a major driver through 2019
“The Intelligent Digital Mesh has been a consistent theme for the past two years and continues as a major driver through 2019. Trends under each of these three themes are a key ingredient in driving a continuous innovation process as part of a Continuous NEXT strategy,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow.
“For example, artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of automated things and augmented intelligence is being used together with IoT, edge computing and digital twins to deliver highly integrated smart spaces. This combinatorial effect of multiple trends coalescing to produce new opportunities and drive new disruption is a hallmark of the Gartner top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019.”
The top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019 are:
Autonomous things, such as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles, use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans. Their automation goes beyond the automation provided by rigid programming models and they exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviours that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people.
“As autonomous things proliferate, we expect a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things, with multiple devices working together, either independently of people or with human input,” said Cearley.
“For example, if a drone examined a large field and found that it was ready for harvesting, it could dispatch an “autonomous harvester.” Or in the delivery market, the most effective solution may be to use an autonomous vehicle to move packages to the target area. Robots and drones on board the vehicle could then ensure final delivery of the package.
Augmented analytics focuses on a specific area of augmented intelligence, using machine learning (ML) to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared. Augmented analytics capabilities will advance rapidly to mainstream adoption, as a key feature of data preparation, data management, modern analytics, business process management, process mining and data science platforms.
Automated insights from augmented analytics will also be embedded in enterprise applications — for example, those of the HR, finance, sales, marketing, customer service, procurement and asset management departments — to optimize the decisions and actions of all employees within their context, not just those of analysts and data scientists. Augmented analytics automates the process of data preparation, insight generation and insight visualization, eliminating the need for professional data scientists in many situations.
“This will lead to citizen data science, an emerging set of capabilities and practices that enables users whose main job is outside the field of statistics and analytics to extract predictive and prescriptive insights from data,” said Cearley. “Through 2020, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists. Organizations can use citizen data scientists to fill the data science and machine learning talent gap caused by the shortage and high cost of data scientists.”
The market is rapidly shifting from an approach in which professional data scientists must partner with application developers to create most AI-enhanced solutions to a model in which the professional developer can operate alone using predefined models delivered as a service.
This provides the developer with an ecosystem of AI algorithms and models, as well as development tools tailored to integrating AI capabilities and models into a solution. Another level of opportunity for professional application development arises as AI is applied to the development process itself to automate various data science, application development and testing functions. By 2022, at least 40 percent of new application development projects will have AI co-developers on their team.
“Ultimately, highly advanced AI-powered development environments automating both functional and nonfunctional aspects of applications will give rise to a new age of the ‘citizen application developer’ where nonprofessionals will be able to use AI-driven tools to automatically generate new solutions. Tools that enable nonprofessionals to generate applications without coding are not new, but we expect that AI-powered systems will drive a new level of flexibility,” said Cearley.
A digital twin refers to the digital representation of a real-world entity or system. By 2020, Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints and digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things. Organizations will implement digital twins simply at first. They will evolve them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply the right analytics and rules, and respond effectively to business objectives.
“One aspect of the digital twin evolution that moves beyond IoT will be enterprises implementing digital twins of their organizations (DTOs). A DTO is a dynamic software model that relies on operational or other data to understand how an organization operationalizes its business model, connects with its current state, deploys resources and responds to changes to deliver expected customer value,” said Cearley. “DTOs help drive efficiencies in business processes, as well as create more flexible, dynamic and responsive processes that can potentially react to changing conditions automatically.”
The edge refers to endpoint devices used by people or embedded in the world around us. Edge computing describes a computing topology in which information processing, and content collection and delivery, are placed closer to these endpoints. It tries to keep the traffic and processing local, with the goal being to reduce traffic and latency.
In the near term, edge is being driven by IoT and the need keep the processing close to the end rather than on a centralized cloud server. However, rather than create a new architecture, cloud computing and edge computing will evolve as complementary models with cloud services being managed as a centralized service executing, not only on centralized servers, but in distributed servers on-premises and on the edge devices themselves.
Over the next five years, specialized AI chips, along with greater processing power, storage and other advanced capabilities, will be added to a wider array of edge devices. The extreme heterogeneity of this embedded IoT world and the long life cycles of assets such as industrial systems will create significant management challenges. Longer term, as 5G matures, the expanding edge computing environment will have more robust communication back to centralized services. 5G provides lower latency, higher bandwidth, and (very importantly for edge) a dramatic increase in the number of nodes (edge endoints) per square km.
Conversational platforms are changing the way in which people interact with the digital world. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are changing the way in which people perceive the digital world. This combined shift in perception and interaction models leads to the future immersive user experience.
“Over time, we will shift from thinking about individual devices and fragmented user interface (UI) technologies to a multichannel and multimodal experience. The multimodal experience will connect people with the digital world across hundreds of edge devices that surround them, including traditional computing devices, wearables, automobiles, environmental sensors and consumer appliances,” said Cearley.
“The multichannel experience will use all human senses as well as advanced computer senses (such as heat, humidity and radar) across these multimodal devices. This multiexperience environment will create an ambient experience in which the spaces that surround us define “the computer” rather than the individual devices. In effect, the environment is the computer.”
Blockchain, a type of distributed ledger, promises to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency and reducing friction across business ecosystems potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times and improving cash flow.
Today, trust is placed in banks, clearinghouses, governments and many other institutions as central authorities with the “single version of the truth” maintained securely in their databases. The centralized trust model adds delays and friction costs (commissions, fees and the time value of money) to transactions. Blockchain provides an alternative trust mode and removes the need for central authorities in arbitrating transactions.
”Current blockchain technologies and concepts are immature, poorly understood and unproven in mission-critical, at-scale business operations. This is particularly so with the complex elements that support more sophisticated scenarios,” said Cearley. “Despite the challenges, the significant potential for disruption means CIOs and IT leaders should begin evaluating blockchain, even if they don’t aggressively adopt the technologies in the next few years.”
Many blockchain initiatives today do not implement all of the attributes of blockchain — for example, a highly distributed database. These blockchain-inspired solutions are positioned as a means to achieve operational efficiency by automating business processes, or by digitizing records. They have the potential to enhance sharing of information among known entities, as well as improving opportunities for tracking and tracing physical and digital assets. However, these approaches miss the value of true blockchain disruption and may increase vendor lock-in. Organizations choosing this option should understand the limitations and be prepared to move to complete blockchain solutions over time and that the same outcomes may be achieved with more efficient and tuned use of existing nonblockchain technologies.
A smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Multiple elements —including people, processes, services and things — come together in a smart space to create a more immersive, interactive and automated experience for a target set of people and industry scenarios.
“This trend has been coalescing for some time around elements such as smart cities, digital workplaces, smart homes and connected factories. We believe the market is entering a period of accelerated delivery of robust smart spaces with technology becoming an integral part of our daily lives, whether as employees, customers, consumers, community members or citizens,” said Cearley.
Digital Ethics and Privacy
Digital ethics and privacy is a growing concern for individuals, organizations and governments. People are increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being used by organizations in both the public and private sector, and the backlash will only increase for organizations that are not proactively addressing these concerns.
“Any discussion on privacy must be grounded in the broader topic of digital ethics and the trust of your customers, constituents and employees. While privacy and security are foundational components in building trust, trust is actually about more than just these components,” said Cearley. “Trust is the acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation. Ultimately an organization’s position on privacy must be driven by its broader position on ethics and trust. Shifting from privacy to ethics moves the conversation beyond ‘are we compliant’ toward ‘are we doing the right thing.’”
Quantum computing (QC) is a type of nonclassical computing that operates on the quantum state of subatomic particles (for example, electrons and ions) that represent information as elements denoted as quantum bits (qubits). The parallel execution and exponential scalability of quantum computers means they excel with problems too complex for a traditional approach or where traditional algorithms would take too long to find a solution.
Industries such as automotive, financial, insurance, pharmaceuticals, military and research organizations have the most to gain from the advancements in QC. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, QC could be used to model molecular interactions at atomic levels to accelerate time to market for new cancer-treating drugs or QC could accelerate and more accurately predict the interaction of proteins leading to new pharmaceutical methodologies.
“CIOs and IT leaders should start planning for QC by increasing understanding and how it can apply to real-world business problems. Learn while the technology is still in the emerging state. Identify real-world problems where QC has potential and consider the possible impact on security,” said Cearley. “But don’t believe the hype that it will revolutionize things in the next few years. Most organizations should learn about and monitor QC through 2022 and perhaps exploit it from 2023 or 2025.”
Analysts will explore top industry trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2018 running from March 4 to 6, 2019 in Dubai, UAE.
Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders, uniting a global community of CIOs with the tools and strategies to help them lead the next generation of IT and achieve business outcomes. More than 25,000 CIOs, senior business and IT leaders worldwide will gather for the insights they need to ensure that their IT initiatives are key contributors to, and drivers of, their enterprise’s success.
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