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Blockchain, AI and machine learning to reshape digital businesses in 2018

Blockchain, together with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality, have the potential to deliver disruptive outcomes and reshape digital business in 2018, according to predictions by Dimension Data.

The company’s report also noted that companies that have not started the digital investment cycle are at high risk of being disrupted.

But the top trend for the coming year is the adoption of Blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin – and its immense potential to disrupt and transform the world of money, business, and society using a variety of applications.

Ettienne Reinecke, Dimension Data’s Group Chief Technology Officer, said, Blockchain has gone from strength to strength.  “Last year, when we looked at the top digital business trends for 2017, we predicted that centralised transaction models would come under attack. We were spot on. In the financial services sector, we’ve seen the US and European capital markets moving onto Blockchain platforms, and similar activity in markets such as Japan. Considering how conservative and compliance-focused this sector is, that’s quite remarkable.

Ettienne Reinecke, Dimension Data
Ettienne Reinecke, Dimension Data

He added, “It’s ironic that the cybercriminals who perpetrated the recent WannaCry ransomware attack could hold a federal government to ransom and demand to be paid in Bitcoin. Bitcoin might be a crypto-currency, but it’s based on Blockchain, and if cybercriminals are confident that Bitcoin provides a safe mechanism for the payment of ransoms, it indicates just how secure the distributed ledger approach is. I believe that Blockchain has the potential to totally re-engineer cybersecurity, but the industry has yet to come to terms with it.”

Reinecke predicts that Blockchain will also deliver on the promise of Internet of Things (IoT) in the year ahead.

The Dimension Data technology chief also highlighted that to extract the true value from IoT technology you have to be able to operate in real time. “Once a sensor alert is received from a control system you must react to it, meter it, and bill for it instantly – all of which negates the viability of a centralised transactional authority. The cost of the transaction has to be near-zero or free, and the cost elements of a centralised model simply don’t support the potential business model in IoT,” he explained.

In 2018, some interesting applications of Blockchain and IoT in the area of cybersecurity will emerge. Significant attacks have recently been launched from low-cost IoT endpoints, and there’s very little incentive for manufacturers of these devices to incur the cost of a security stack, which leaves them extremely vulnerable. Blockchain can play a fundamental role in securing these environments.

Another exciting trend to look forward to is the boom in new wireless technologies that will enable IoT and bring us a step closer to the dream of pervasive connectivity. Some of these advancements will include 5G and Gbps Wi-Fi, new controls, virtual beacon technology, and low power, long distance radio frequency.

Mechelle Buys Du Plessis,  Dimension Data Middle East
Mechelle Buys Du Plessis, Dimension Data Middle East

There’s also a “digital fight-back” coming on the part of certain incumbent players. Established businesses that have proactively transformed into digital businesses, modernised their architectures, and embedded high levels of automation into their operations have a window of opportunity to claw back market share in the year ahead. That’s because there’s been an increase in the number of cloud-born start-ups themselves starting to be disrupted in certain industries.

Mechelle Buys Du Plessis, managing director, Dimension Data Middle, said, “Blockchain is an enabler for the Middle East region to deliver secure, digitised services across all verticals. The Dubai Government is leading the charge with a well-defined blockchain strategy.   We have seen a leading uptake of Blockchain with Smart Dubai, as it sets out on a journey of adopting Blockchain to provide simpler and secure services across multiple government agencies to better serve citizens, residence and tourists. With ambitious growth figures forecasted for tourism, Smart Dubai is gearing up to provide seamless services to allow for simple, secure transactions. We are already seeing progress towards paperless processes, which will lead up to the utilisation of blockchain.  Furthermore, we have also seen the finance sector taking to blockchain and digitisation initiatives.  There is no denying that blockchain will become more prevalent in the region in 2018.”



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