IT Trends research – top 10 – Blockchain (8), Industry 4.0 (9) & Quantum Computing (10)

In this digitizing world, many technologies are rapidly changing the way organizations carry out their work. In this web of technologies, it is important for IT professionals to know what the most emerging trends are for the coming year, so that the right added value can be derived from this for their organization. Supply Value has been conducting the IT Trends Survey since 2019. The purpose of this research is to support Information management and technology professionals in setting key priorities and proper focus. In the month of August we will work towards the 3 most important IT Trends for the coming year, by discussing the top 10 trends. In this insight, we share and consider the trends that have finished in eighth, nine and ten: Blockchain, Industry 4.0 and Quantum computing.

Trend 8 – Blockchain

IT professionals place Blockchain in eighth place of the most important IT Trends of the coming year. Since the inception of cryptocurrencies, the technology has experienced tremendous growth. While most initiatives in this regard initially occurred in the financial sector, we see more and more sectors feeling encouraged to get started with blockchain. Despite all the initiatives, we see that 85% of these initiatives ultimately leads to nothing, often because privacy still appears to be a stumbling block. This is also reflected in the figures from the IT Trends Survey. 90% of the IT professionals indicates that they are at least somewhat familiar with blockchain. However, only 14% gives priority to this to be implemented in its own organization.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a technology that focuses on storing transactions in blocks of data. Just as a ledger centrally records transactions in columns and rows, blockchain does this with blocks of data. Within such a chain, it is not the third parties – such as a bank or government institution – that check the transactions, but the participants in the chain themselves using validation mechanisms. This has a number of advantages for organizations. For example, there are no transaction costs for intermediaries because this role is no longer available. The transparency of the chain also increases, making assets traceable and increasing safety and integrity.

Blockchain is a relatively new technology, it is in its growth phase and there is still a lot of experimentation going on. These experiments show that blockchain still has a number of shortcomings that stand in the way of a large-scale breakthrough. In the meantime, work is underway to address the identified shortcomings in the form of mainstream blockchain. It is expected that a mature blockchain technology will provide solutions for the current shortcomings in Performance, Privacy and Governance, among others.

Trend development in Blockchain

In recent years, blockchain has been a hype, with the rise of cryptocurrencies and more than 300 organizations that have started working with blockchain within the Netherlands. This often shows that blockchain is not yet able to deliver the value it promises and the big breakthrough is yet to come. Work is being done worldwide on the further development of the technology on the basis of the experiments that have been carried out, for example in the field of privacy. The IT Trends Survey also shows that blockchain has become more widely known. Where last year more than 56% indicated that they were familiar with the technology, this year it was almost 90%. On the other hand, we do see a decrease in high prioritization of this technology, respectively from 21% to 14%. Of the respondents, 47% indicates that they give little or no priority to the technology. Blockchain is expected to reach its maturity level in 2025 and will be widely applicable. In the meantime, organizations would do well to invest in knowledge and understanding of blockchain. It is also crucial for a successful application of blockchain to start from the problems and needs of the value chain, not from the 'technology push' or isolated for one organization.

Trend 9 – Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 or 'Smart Industry' is a newcomer in this year's IT Trends list, finishing in ninth place. After the emergence of the steam engine (1), the introduction of the assembly line (2) and the advent of the computer (3), many people are convinced that we are currently in the fourth industrial revolution. However, the survey shows that more than 50% of the respondents indicate that they are not or barely familiar with Industry 4.0. A logical explanation for this is the maturity level of the market, where it can be seen that it is still in full development.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is a trend where automation and data exchange come together in a new way. Technologies such as Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Augmented Reality are combined to make processes more efficient and more predictable. An example of this is our smartphone, which requires different technologies on one device to make calls, surf the Internet and take photos. Another example are drones that are used to assess the growth and health of crops and land tools that measure the soil condition. A combination of these two technologies and data makes it possible to irrigate fields more efficiently and to make predictions about crop growth. In short, Industry 4.0 is the combination of ideas from different industries, blurring the boundaries between our physical, digital and biological world.

Industry 4.0 has various applications. The two most emerging developments within this trend are Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which last year ended as an independent trend in sixth place, and Digital Twins. With the help of RPA, human actions within software applications can be simulated. RPA is therefore a kind of 'software robot'. The technology mainly creates value when it is used for processes with a high volume and a repetitive character. Digital Twins is a technology where a digital twin of a physical system is developed. Because information from different business units can be requested from this digital twin, the complexity and efficiency of an IoT ecosystem can be reduced.

Trend development in Industry 4.0

The way of production is changing drastically due to the convergence of different industries. Technological developments, such as IoT and data science, will accelerate these changes. The question is how quickly these changes will take place. Technology can develop at lightning speed, but human capabilities can lag behind. Consider, for example, the impact of g-force on our body. At great speed in the same direction, the blood flows out of the brain, which can cause people to lose consciousness. As a result, our human capacity has ensured for some time that not all available technology can be fully utilized in aerospace. The cooperation between humans and systems therefore poses a major challenge.

In addition, the question is whether the market is ready for Industry 4.0. Our research shows that only 25% of the respondents has an above average knowledge of the trend and only 20% gives high priority to this trend. This trend is expected to gain more awareness and priority in the coming years. On the one hand, because the 'separate' technologies such as IoT, Data Science and RPA are becoming increasingly known among a larger audience. On the other hand, because these technologies are developing at a rapid pace and are therefore increasingly widely applicable within various industries. Industry 4.0 is therefore worth diving into. The trend offers enormous possibilities through the application of different technologies that combine the physical and digital worlds, for example through digital twins. A much more broadly applicable development within this trend is Robotic Process Automation. By applying RPA, the most traditional branches are able to accelerate their processes and thus create space to work (with the people available again) on innovations that require more creativity.

Trend 10 – Quantum Computing

Quantum computing takes tenth place of the IT Trends that appear in the survey. The main reason for this is that more than 80% of the respondents indicate that they are completely unfamiliar or only slightly familiar with the technology. Quantum computing is a promising way to better and faster analyze ever-expanding data sources. At the end of 2019, Google claimed to have had a breakthrough with a Quantum computer that could perform a calculation in minutes that would take a regular computer years. Despite IBM and Intel questioning the latter, it turned out that the calculation was done much faster than a regular computer. The prospect is that Quantum computers can perform certain tasks exponentially faster than regular computers.

What is Quantum Computing?

Traditional computers work with bits. A bit has a value of 0 and 1. The computer stores numbers by making combinations of these two values. Quantum computers differ from traditional computers because they use qubits. Qubits allow combinations of 0 and 1 to be simultaneously (e.g. 70% 0 and 30% 1). This makes it possible to perform calculations in parallel, and therefore faster.

It remains to be seen when the average Dutch person will actually experience the application of Quantum computing, but it is a fact that the larger tech companies are working on it. Google previously proved the applicability of the Quantum computer. In addition to tech giants such as IBM, Google and Microsoft, TU Delft has now also made it possible for smaller organizations to get started with Quantum calculations via the Quantum Inspire platform.

Trend Development in Quantum Computing

From the Supply Value IT Trends Survey of 2019 found that 80% of the respondents was not (or very limited) familiar with Quantum computing. This year is no different. Organizations are especially curious about the practical applicability and the first success stories, before they start or delve into it themselves. Only when the larger tech companies make strides in the development and application of Quantum computing will this technology gain more attention from an average organization. Business use cases in particular play an important role in this development, such as combining quantum computing with artificial intelligence to detect fraud in the financial sector. The cloud will also play a major role in the large-scale application of quantum computing, namely in the form of 'Quantum computing as a Service'.

Want to know more?

Has this insight made you enthusiastic about our IT Trends Survey? Put the notifications of our LinkedIn page then on. Next week we will reveal which two IT trends finished in seventh and sixth place.

Would you like to have an in-depth conversation with one of our consultants based on this insight? Please contact Jurriaan Vogel.