July 6, 2017

Mid-year research shows the tech world is thinking about digital transformation, a growing acceptance of AI, and data storage challenges.

Quick take

  • A new Gartner CEO survey indicates that digital transformation is moving from a goal to reality for most companies. IDC anticipates that by 2018, digital transformation will be at the center of corporate strategy for two-thirds of the world’s top companies.
  • 61% of respondents to a survey about AI think artificial intelligence will help society become better, especially in medicine and science.
  • That means increasing data, and increasing pressure on infrastructure. According to new 451 Research, IT pros say their top storage pain point is data storage/capacity growth.

A quick look at mid-2017 research touching on the tech world reveals three themes that are sure to continue impacting data centers: digital transformation, the growing acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI), and data storage challenges.

Here we share relevant highlights from recent surveys by Gartner, 451 Research, IDC, and Northstar Research Partners.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the reinvention of business activities, processes, competencies, and models driven by technology innovation and the expectations of increasingly digital savvy customers.

“IT-related priorities, cited by 31% of CEOs, have never been this high in the history of the CEO survey,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “CIOs should help CEOs set the success criteria for digital business. It starts by remembering that you cannot scale what you do not quantify, and you cannot quantify what you do not define.”1

“Digital transformation has become the defining issue of the business environment as a whole, with IDC anticipating that by the end of this year two-thirds of the world’s top 2,000 companies will have it at the center of their corporate strategy … IDC analysts estimate half of organizations’ IT spending this year will be on digital transformation technologies and services, rising to more than 60% in the next three years.”2

Digital transformation demands a fundamental change in the systems that support it, increasing pressure on software, hardware, networks, and infrastructure – including, of course, the data center.

Attitudes Toward AI, VR & AR

One driver of digital transformation has been the rise of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR).

“The survey [by Northstar Research Partners and ARM] shows people expect to see a major shift to AI within the coming years: Just over a third said AI is already having a notable impact on their daily lives, yet three-quarters say they expect AI to have a big impact on their lives by 2022 … More than six in 10 people expect that, by the year 2050, humans will love AI as they would love a pet. Yet 20% were most concerned about giving some control over our lives to machines, while 18% were most concerned about more data being shared and potentially stolen.”3

“Dedicated AR and VR headsets collectively are expected to grow at a very strong pace from just under 10 million units in 2016 to just shy of 100 million units in 2021, with a 5-year CAGR of 57.7%.”4

Data and Storage Challenges

One of the key characteristics of digital transformation, AI, VR, and AR is data – massive amounts of it. All of this digital work is done, of course, on IT infrastructure – servers for compute and storage, and networking equipment – inside a data center.

“Things don’t always go as planned with new technologies. Two new research reports document the struggles, disappointments and false starts that challenge enterprise storage pros as they modernize their infrastructures for digital business … 451 Research asked enterprise IT pros to rank their most pressing storage pains. ‘Data/capacity growth’ landed in the top spot. ‘Meeting disaster recovery requirements’ and ‘high cost of storage’ ranked second and third, respectively, among survey respondents.”5

The data explosion brought about by these trends requires IT infrastructure that can support workloads that are dynamic. IT infrastructure has risen to the challenge, including by increasing density. But then the data center has to rise to the challenge as well, keeping pace with the increasing amount and dynamic nature of the work it’s asked to do. Can yours?

1 Gartner,  2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business.

2 Silicon.co.uk, Digital transformation in financial sector, June 2017.

3 ZDNet, Global survey: Most people expect humans will grow to trust, even love, AI, June 2017.

4 IDC, Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker, June 2017.

5 Network World, Most acute storage pain points, letdowns, June 2017.