Companies can expect to see disruption in traditional models of data usage, storage, and analysis next year, with newcomers challenging the dominance of incumbent brands across various markets, including edge computing and 5G, according to the technology advisory and investment firm GP Bullhound.

The firm’s 13th annual Technology Predictions 2020 report culled insights from its worldwide team and discusses GP Bullhound’s Top 10 trends and innovations that will impact the digital economy over the coming year. Among them:

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

5G presents an industry disruptive technological evolution

This will significantly enhance mobile computing capabilities, according to the report. The race to establish a claim to be the originator of the first fully operational 5G network has created a battleground around the telecom industry giants.

Traditionally large players in this space, including Qualcomm, Samsung, and Huawei, will be some of the key companies vying for this claim over the next year.

SEE: Tech Predictions For 2020: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Data lakes are on the rise as relational databases die out

Structures and methods of processing and storing data—80% of which is unstructured—will align in 2020, with the increasing vast amounts of complex data that is being generated globally.

The world is generating so much data in such a complex way that relational databases are no longer suited to being the optimal method of storage, the report stated.

“In the age of big data and IoT, data lakes serve multiple incredibly important functions that position it to replace the relational database for many enterprises.”

New software offerings that use machine learning and AI can take in a variety of data sources, making it possible to move away from data warehouses to data lakes, which are also cheaper to use, said Brandon Overmyer, a vice president at GP Bullhound.

“The only way we can do that now is with tools that plug into a data lake that allow you to make sense of that data,” Overmyer said.

Vertical AI SaaS solutions will have the edge over horizontal

According to Forbes, 25% of organizations worldwide that are already using AI solutions report up to a 50% failure rate.

As education levels increase, and leaders truly understand where artificial intelligence (AI) can improve their businesses, companies will seek out verticalized solutions that tackle those challenges, leading to dramatically improved AI implementation success rates, according to the report.

As the term AI has grown more ubiquitous, what’s really missing is the efficacy and results component, said Overmyer. A whole host of companies have sprung up that are focused on specific customer segments, from HR recruiting to the restaurant industry that are “leveraging the predictive nature of AI and training it with a very specific toolset,” he said.

SEE: Mini-glossary: 5G terms you should know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The 5G battle will be the most significant advancement in technological infrastructure

The race to establish a 5G network has fostered a war among existing telecom industry giants to earn the status of premier 5G provider,” the report stated.

On the network operator side, T-Mobile and Sprint may emerge as the frontrunners, Overmyer said. But he added that tier one carriers AT&T and Verizon “won’t go down lightly. So our prediction is this is the year where they’ll all be at war to try and put their foothold down.”

The streaming frenzy will allow one premium competitor to emerge alongside Netflix

In 2020 will see the progression of a fundamental shift in how viewers consume traditional movie and TV content, from cable channel productions on televisions to on-demand content platforms available on any device.

Netflix will continue to be the anchor platform, but one other premium platform will significantly attract consumer attention—perhaps Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Peacock, or Apple TV+.

Everything as a service (XaaS) will grow

In 2020, commercial enterprises will continue to change their product and service offerings to pure-as-a-service models.

HP recently announced plans to transition to an as-a-service model over time and offer its entire portfolio of enterprise solutions through subscription based, pay-per-use and as-a-service payment models. The goal is to provide its customers with better choice, flexibility and control, the report said.

“SaaS is the default approach and delivery model now,” said Alec Dafferner, a partner at GP Bullhound. One driver is “the sticky relationship you get with your customer where it’s not a one-time transaction, it’s an ongoing relationship. It’s all about customer retention.”

Another driver, added Overmyer, is the increasing comfort organizations have leveraging cloud.

Edge computing providers will mushroom

Going forward, edge computing will present a third option to the traditional private versus public cloud structures, utilizing a combination of both centralized and decentralized data processing.

In 2020, expect the number of startups and midsized companies that provide compute, network, infrastructure and cybersecurity for the edge to increase, GP Bullhound predicted.

“These players will look to provide a viable alternative to a single cloud solution and challenge existing large enterprises like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud.”

Predictions that didn’t pan out

There are two findings from last year’s report that the firm did not accurately predict: “the end of the boys’ club” and “cryptocurrency will grow up.”

A more appropriate title for the former would have been “The beginning of the end of the boys’ club, as we’re starting to see improvements but still have a long way to go,” the report noted.

And the potential manipulation of bitcoin pricing continues to “cast doubt on the market’s transparency and ultimately, it’s use as an investable asset class,” the report said.

The link to the full report is here.

Image: iStockphoto/LHG