When will we see the next breakthrough year for tech?

2007 was a year when technology changed the world, it was one of those momentous years that occur every decade or so. Everything seems different after. We are due another major shift. For IT this creates a challenge and a half, and preparations need to begin in advance. So when will the next breakthrough year occur and what will it entail, and what should CTOs do?

2007: It was quite the year. January, in one of the most famous product launches of all time saw the announcement of the iPhone.

See Steve Jobs reveal the iPhone

That year was also when Amazon revealed the Kindle, the Android was released, Google bought YouTube, Facebook and Twitter went global, and IBM announced its AI system: Watson.

>See also: The history of Apple’s iPhone ahead of the next one

It was an extraordinary year, representing something of a richter 10 level earthquake in the story of technology disruption. For companies: some of the ramifications were not easy to predict. When the Microsoft boss at that time, Steve Ballmer laughed at the idea of a keyboard-less phone being used in business, no doubt many agreed with him.

The changes that followed were swift. For IT, keeping up, hard enough at the best of times, it became nigh on impossible. But keeping up, was what IT had to do.

It was an extraordinary year, but not unique for sparking radical technological change.

The mid-1990s saw the launch of Amazon and eBay, Windows 95 was released, and while the World Wide Web was formulated at the beginning of the decade, the internet began to gain traction.

>See also: The mobile phone is dying, but mobile technology is just beginning

As for the 1980s, Apple released the Mac in 1984, Microsoft Windows was released in 1885, the compact disc was announced a year or so earlier.

Roughly every ten years, technology turns the world on its head. Companies have to be aware of the changes and what they mean, or get left behind.

So what will the next big changes be? And when?

Will the key be 5G?

We keep hearing about the Internet of Things and big data, and of course, they are important, we all know this,  but prepare for a rapid acceleration in their adoption and sophistication as 5G is rolled out. Projected to be ten times faster than 4G, it will create a new imperative. Technologies that will benefit from 5G, that had previously been changing at a snail’s pace, will suddenly offer must-have functions. Expect the Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and new communication technologies, possibly projecting holograms, visible from augmented reality devices, to be transformed.

Voice control is set to take on added importance – as its ability to recognise speech passes a critical point, and we talk to our devices – dictate letters, emails and reports.

>See also: The age of 5G: what to expect with next-generation wireless

Drone technology will become a vital technology, aiding the transport of products over short distances – until it converges with the automotive industry to create flying cars and taxis.

Clearly AI and the way it analyses data will be transformative. The idea that data is the new oil has become hackneyed. Just remember the famous words spoken by the Alphabet chair, Eric Schmidt, that every two days we create as much information as we did up to 2003.

Expect AI’s impact to become dramatic indeed within a few years.

The opportunities this creates for cyber criminals is troubling, to say the least.

>See also: 5 reasons why 5G is the future 

The arms race between cyber criminal and security will escalate.

Changes will be far-reaching, but fully understanding these changes or their extent in advance will be impossible.

All that IT managers and CTOs can do is know they must be prepared, and create the flexibility to shift with the changes – or they will be left behind, looking foolish and irrelevant.

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

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