In 2018 as a digital leader, you can connect even more deeply with your data, network, smart assistants and with any cloud of your choice.

1. Put your data to work

These days, organizations collect more data than a human brain could possibly process in a lifetime. (Or even several.) So we’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather and analyze data from everywhere. All with the goal of helping you make smarter decisions.

We already see this trend in action. Hospitals can track if doctors and nurses wash their hands at the right times, banks can find and fix issues with their mobile apps before users have to call in, Museums can see which attractions people visit most frequently and the list goes on. In 2018, we expect to see many more examples of human imagination pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

2. Re-invent how networks work

For 30 years, networks have worked pretty much the same way and one needed an IT army to manage network settings manually. But not any more.

Think of your network as a car. Until now, someone had to drive. But an intent-based network is a self-driving car, you tell it where to go, and it gets there by itself.

Let’s say you tell your network to “Set up a new building site ” and the network will automatically set up the machines and connect them in the right way. And it will do this in milliseconds, rather than the hours it takes to do it manually.

3. Automate your virtual assistant

Today, we ask virtual assistants to show us the weather or give driving directions. The point is, you have to ask but what if you didn’t? In 2018, virtual assistants will be smart enough to figure out what you need—before you tell them.

Picture this: You walk into a smart meeting room big enough for six people. The room can tell from your phone that you’ve arrived. Behind the scenes, the video conference tool talks to your calendar, sees you have a meeting in two minutes, and starts the call on time. The room also notices that you’re the only one here, so it raises the temperature by a few degrees to keep you comfortable.

That’s the power of automated assistants. All of your tools talking together in the background to make the right things happen at the right time. It sounds sci-fi. But it’s already a reality and it will be even more widespread in 2018.

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4. Embrace all the clouds

It’s no longer about a journey to the cloud, singular. It’s about putting your data and applications where they work best. And moving them around at will. All while keeping everything secure.

So 2018 will be the year you get to store data wherever you’d like. Adopt a private cloud in your data center. Pick public clouds from Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Or use all of the above. The more the merrier. Because your data will be secured, managed, and orchestrated effectively—whether you’re using one cloud or one hundred.

5. Embed security in everything

In 2018, you’ll be able to embed security in everything you do. You can watch how people or things behave, learn their patterns, and get alerts if something changes.

Imagine an employee named Pam. Every day, Pam checks her email, uses WebEx, and goes to certain websites. But then one day, Pam tries to upload files to a server she hasn’t used in two years. That’s odd. It could mean that Pam plans to leave the company. And it looks like she wants to take some of your data with her.

With security embedded in everything, your systems would notice this change in behavior right away. And they could automatically block Pam—and alert you. This helps you catch security issues before they happen. Or at least respond to breaches more quickly.

Remember, these trends are connected. The companies who thrive in the digital era are the ones who master all five. So don’t think of them as separate trends. They’re a digital platform for everything you do.

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