With 2019 still in its infancy, it’s that time of the year when all of the major consultancies weigh in on what the major trends of the year will be.

TransUnion CEO, Lee Naik, is also getting in on the action, and gazing into his crystal ball to identify five trends in particular that will prove most significant as the rest of the year unfolds.

Naik is gleaning his insights thanks to the vast lakes of data that TransUnion routinely gathers. For the most part, many of his predictions are based on how the burgeoning technologies that have been touted for the past few years, with them now starting to reap dividends in the business landscape.

“2019 is shaping up to be a year of reflection and re-imagination – where we can strip away the hype and meaningfully consider the impact disruptive technologies are having on our society and how we’re going to respond,” he says.

Convergence lead by 5G

The first trend is a well treaded one – 5G. For several years this broadband standard was touted for its ability to empower technologies within an IoT ecosystem. Naik believes 2019 is the year that vision begins to take shape.

“Last year saw the first commercially available 5G service launched in Lesotho, with more rollouts planned throughout 2019. With 5G offering speeds up to 1000 times faster than what we’re used to, digital connectivity is about to take a quantum leap forward in Africa,” says Naik.

“With it will come the infrastructure needed for always-connected devices and a fully immersive IoT-driven society,” he adds.

AI for all

Next is another technology that has been touched on previously – AI. Coupled with machine learning, Naik says these two technologies are no longer sole domain of the big tech companies like Google and Amazon, but are starting to get into the hands of smaller organisations and enterprises.

“The more complex, labour-intensive tasks associated with AI are now being packaged into simple, easy-to-deploy applications, and accessibility is opening up in a big way,” he explains.

This means that anyone with enough development knowledge can theoretically build their own mini-Watson [IBM’s own AI platform], not just major enterprises with full data science teams at their disposal,” continues the CEO. 

As such it opens up opportunities for those on the African continent as well. In particular Naik says that having access to these “game-changing” analytics will be of serious benefit.

Digital identity under the spotlight

“With the meeting of the digital and physical worlds, having a fully formed digital identity is increasingly important in being able to access real-world services. From banking to travel to hospitals, industries are embracing the use of biometrics, digital onboarding, and connected devices to serve consumers,” notes Naik.

While shifting to a digital identity model for businesses is becoming a necessity, the CEO stresses that it’s not an easy process. This is especially so when identity fraud and spoofed information is rife.

“It’s never been more important to have the tools and processes in place to be able to distinguish real from fake. Expect to see a major focus in 2019 on data protection technologies as organisations struggle with how to deliver more relevant experiences to their customers, without exposing themselves to risk,” he adds.

Keeping it clean

In 2019 consumers and customers are more aware than ever of what their data is used for, and even the tech giants like Facebook are being made to rue the fact that they’re not more transparent in the way they handle user data.

“The public has less tolerance for bad data practices every year,” Naik stresses.

“Data protection technologies and services should thrive as a result, but we’ll also see companies wrestling with just how to implement analytics and make use of personal data without falling foul of privacy laws,” he continues.

Embracing ethics

The final trend focuses on business ethics, with Naik adding that organisations are becoming more aware of how their offerings have an impact on a societal level.

“How do you make the right choices to grow and deliver meaningful outcomes to shareholders, consumers and society at large?,” he ponders.

The answer may lie in seeing how disruptive technologies, now commonplace in the industry, can be used for greater societal gain.

“2019 provides an opportunity to seriously consider how they can be used purposefully. If every choice we make is capable of being enhanced with data, and every object a potential source of rich insights, then the limits on what we can and can’t do to create better businesses and societies fall away,” he says.

“Expect the concept of ‘information for good’ to reach into even the most unexpected places as we explore what it means to exist in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution,” he concludes.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]