Global research firm Gartner has warned CIOs to prepare for some unexpected digital disruptions moving into 2019.

While trends such as cloud and social networks have come to be expected for businesses, emerging fields like quantum computing and nanotechnologies look set to change operations in the near future.

CIOs must be prepared to navigate the force of such changes, Gartner has warned.

“The single largest challenge facing enterprises and technology providers today is digital disruption,” said Gartner Vice President Daryl Plummer

“The virtual nature of digital disruptions makes them much more difficult to deal with than past technology-triggered disruptions.”

1. Quantum computing

With governments, universities and industry around the world pouring billions into the development of quantum technology, businesses will soon be operating with quantum force.

“Quantum computers have the potential to run massive amounts of calculations in parallel in seconds,” said Plummer.

“This potential for compute acceleration, as well as the ability to address difficult and complex problems, is what is driving so much interest from CEOs and CIOs in a variety of industries.”

But Plummer warned CIOs to avoid getting sucked into the hype.

“But we must always be conscious of the hype surrounding the quantum computing model,” he said.

“QC is good for a specific set of problem solutions, not all general-purpose computing.”

2. Real-time language translation

Global communication stands to be transformed as real-time translation services become increasingly viable.

Devices such as translation earbuds can now perform translation instantly, helping to breakdown language barriers arounds the world.

Human translators could soon be deemed redundant, as services are increasingly automated.

3. Nanotechnology

The nanoscale – between one and 100 nanometres – has emerged as a new platform for innovation.

“Nanotechnology is rapidly becoming as common a concept as many others, and yet still remains sparsely understood in its impact to the world at large,” said Plummer.

“When we consider applications that begin to allow things like 3D printing at nanoscale, then it becomes possible to advance the cause of printed organic materials and even human tissue that is generated from individual stem cells.”

4. Swarm intelligence

The term ‘swarm intelligence’ refers to the integration of self-organised systems. These include IoT devices, software agents and physical entities that combine to create a ‘swarm’.

A swarm can easily be scaled up to create a low-cost alternative to stand-alone smart machines or hyperscale architecture.

Gartner predicts that such systems will allow businesses to make decisions in real time about unpredictable events.

5. Human-machine interfaces

A human-machine interface (HMI) is anything that allows you as a human to interact with a machine.

In its simplest form, this could be a touch screen. However, these technologies are now growing increasingly sophisticated and creating innovative, multimodal experiences.

People living with disabilities are now having HMIs adapted to their needs, such as through the use of electromyography wearables, that allow users to use smartphones or computers with the measurement of muscular contractions on the skin surface.

6. Software distribution revolution

As cloud platforms continue to gather momentum, software marketplaces are becoming increasingly viable.

Plummer highlighted the opportunity this buy and sell model presents to businesses.

“Establishing one’s own marketplace or participating as a provider in a third-party marketplace is a route to market that is becoming increasingly popular,” he said.

“Distributors and other third parties also see the opportunity to create strong ecosystems (and customer bases) while driving efficiencies for partners and technology service providers.”

7. Smartphone disintermediation

The way in which smartphones are used may soon change according to Gartner, as smartwatches and wearables take up a growing market share.

“Smartphones are, today, critical for connections and media consumption,” said Plummer.

“However, over time they will become less visible as they stay in pockets and backpacks. Instead, consumers will use a combination of voice-input and VPA technologies and other wearable devices to navigate a store or public space such as an airport or stadium without walking down the street with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen.”

Gartner has advised CIOs to assess the wearability of a product as a guiding principle when investigating solutions.