Top 10 IT Trends, Part 3: Smart Object Storage, Video Analytics, And Blockchain

Hu Yoshida

Part 3 of the “2018 Top IT Trends” series

So far in this series, we’ve explored four key IT trends in 2018: adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, virtualization, analytics and artificial intelligence, and data governance for personal data protection. Read on for more on the next three.

Object storage gets smart. Many enterprises started their digital transformation last year. But the first problem that they ran into was the inability to access their data. Data is often locked in isolated islands that make it costly to extract and use. These islands were built for a purpose and not to be shared, and many contain data that is duplicated, obsolete, or no longer used because of changes in business process or ownership.

Data scientists tell us that 80% of the work involved in gaining analytical insight from data is the tedious work of acquiring and preparing the data. The concept of a data lake is alluring. But you can’t just pour your data into one system unless that data is properly cleansed, formatted, and indexed or tagged with metadata so that the data lake is content-aware. Otherwise, you end up with a data swamp.

While object storage can store massive amounts of unstructured data and provide metadata management and search capability, the ability to be context-aware is missing. Object storage now has the ability to be “smart” with software that can search for and read content in multiple structured and unstructured data silos and analyze it for cleansing, formatting, and indexing.

Solutions are available that can extract data from the silos and pump it into workflows to process it in various ways. Users can be authorized so that sensitive content is viewed only by relevant people and document security controls are not breached. An intelligence content solution can create a standard and consistent enterprise search process across the entire IT environment. It can connect to and aggregate multi-structured data across heterogeneous data silos and different locations and provide automated extraction, classification, enrichment, and categorization of all of an organization’s data.

Wider adoption of video analytics will spread across industries. Video content analytics will be a “third eye” for greater insight, productivity, and efficiency in a number of domains, beyond public safety. The algorithms to automatically detect and determine temporal, spatial, and relational dimensions can apply to a wide range of businesses like retail, healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, education, and entertainment. Video, when combined with other IoT information like cell phone GPS and social media feeds, can provide behavior analysis and other forms of situational awareness.

For example, video can be used by automotive manufacturers in quality management to increase product quality, reduce cost of rework, and eradicate root causes. Retailers are using video to analyze customer navigation patterns and dwell time to position products and sales assistance to maximize sales. Video analytics relies on good video input and thereby requires video enhancement technologies like de-noising, image stabilization, masking, and super-resolution. Video analytics may be the sleeper in terms of analytics for ease of use, ROI, and generating actionable analytics.

Blockchain projects will begin to impact IT. Blockchain will be in the news in 2018 for two reasons:

First is the use of blockchain in cryptocurrencies, which saw growing acceptance last year. The value of the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, skyrocketed from $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to nearly $19,000 by year-end. While the value of Bitcoin fluctuates wildly, it is viewed as a stable currency in countries that were plagued by hyperinflation. Japan and Singapore are also indicating that they will create fiat-denominated cryptocurrencies in 2018 that will be run by banks and managed by regulators. Consumers will use this for person-to-person payments, e-commerce, and funds transfers. This will lead many banks to turn to blockchain to help them build the capacity needed to manage accounts in cryptocurrencies.

Second is the growing use of blockchain in the financial sector for routine processes like internal regulatory functions, customer documentation, and regulatory filings. Interbank fund transfers via blockchain ledgers are also expected to expand in 2018, and other sectors will begin to see prototypes with smart contracts and identity services for healthcare, governments, food safety, and counterfeit goods. Expect to see every industry looking at blockchain as having the potential to save costs and accelerate their business. These platforms will need the help of IT to replace, integrate, and extend existing applications and architectures.

The fourth and final blog in this series explores a few IT trends that we that we don’t hear as much about – because they are less about new technology and more about approaches to applying technology.

Read more from this series: Top 10 Trends, Part 1: Adoption Of IoT Platforms.

Hu Yoshida

About Hu Yoshida

Hu Yoshida is responsible for defining the technical direction of Hitachi Data Systems. Currently, he leads the company's effort to help customers address data life cycle requirements and resolve compliance, governance and operational risk issues. He was instrumental in evangelizing the unique Hitachi approach to storage virtualization, which leveraged existing storage services within Hitachi Universal Storage Platform® and extended it to externally-attached, heterogeneous storage systems. Yoshida is well-known within the storage industry, and his blog has ranked among the "top 10 most influential" within the storage industry as evaluated by Network World. In October of 2006, Byte and Switch named him one of Storage Networking’s Heaviest Hitters and in 2013 he was named one of the "Ten Most Impactful Tech Leaders" by Information Week.