Five Emerging Tech Trends to Watch in 2019

January 06, 2019
Beth Devin, Head of Innovation Network & Emerging Technologies, Citi Ventures

It's that time of year — when the technology news circuit is full of predictions of the next big trends on the horizon. Here are five technologies that could have a major impact on financial institutions and their clients in 2019 and beyond.


What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless network technology. The current standard, 4G, increased data-transfer rates and gave rise to many of the connected devices and services that we rely on today. Using a high frequency spectrum, small cell antennas, and AI-enabled software, the 5G network will allow up to 100X better throughput, 10X longer battery life, and 1000X larger data volumes, all while being 10X more reliable. In essence, 5G removes today's network constraints and makes possible machine-to-machine and human-to-machine experiences once inconceivable.

Why now?

Ten years after mobile carriers launched 4G, they are now experimenting with 5G technology. This investment is needed to keep pace with our demands for always-on, always-connected, and digital economy requirements.

Potential Applications

5G is critical for most if not all of the major tech innovations envisioned today, which will require either higher speeds, lower latency, and/or massive data process power. Examples include:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT): Able to handle exponentially more connections than 4G, 5G can help IoT go beyond smart homes to fully smart cities.
  • Next-Generation Automobiles: Making self-driving cars a reality will require 5G, but flying cars may also be in our future.
  • Financial Services: Faster, more secure apps can help banks better authenticate consumers and enable "remote tellers."

Augmented and Mixed Reality

What are Augmented and Mixed Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are technologies that seamlessly fuse the digital and physical worlds. While AR augments the physical world with digital information, MR combines the real and virtual worlds, allowing people to move within and interact with both simultaneously.

Why Now?

While AR and MR are already popular for simple and entertainment uses, 5G will enable these nascent technologies to scale up to enterprise level. Read Gartner's prediction on experimentation and adoption.

Potential Applications

AR and MR offer many potential applications, including:

  • Consumer & Retail: Consumers can use AR to visualize how furniture would look in their living room or try on cosmetics virtually before purchasing.
  • Financial Services: Financial professionals can create next-generation data visualizations to gain new insights and better serve their clients. In 2016, Citi experimented with MR for securities trading, using nascent Microsoft HoloLens technology to create a holographic workstation.

Intelligent Augmentation

What is Intelligent Augmentation?

"Intelligent augmentation" refers to the next generation in artificial intelligence (AI)—augmenting human capability to help everyone work smarter and faster.

Why Now?

AI advancements like Lifelong Deep Neural Networks, which mimic the human brain, will enable software to learn continuously and advance AI to the next stage of development. Furthermore, recent innovations in AI chips will equip more devices with AI power, potentially leading to what Deloitte calls "pervasive intelligence".

Potential Applications

  • Content Marketing: A strong predictive analytics platform could create its own content, allowing marketing organizations to be more agile and experimental.
  • Future of Work: Rather than taking jobs, intelligent augmentation can allow humans and machines to complement one another.

Zero Trust Cyber Security

What is Zero Trust Cyber Security?

Zero Trust is a new approach to cyber security that encompasses a wide range of data privacy practices, protocols, and technologies. Zero Trust models independently approve and constrain every user, connection, and data packet that moves through a network, enabling enterprises to better secure mobile and cloud applications and allowing multiple companies to collaboratively and securely analyze encrypted data.

Why Now?

The widespread adoption of mobile and cloud computing is compelling enterprises to expand cyber security beyond its traditional confines. Meanwhile, data has become central to all business, enabling companies to use more data than they control themselves.

Potential Applications

  • "Zero Knowledge" Computing: Through new cryptographic processes, companies can compute pools of encrypted data without decrypting them, allowing competitors to improve their financial models and machine learning algorithms through access to a broader, deeper dataset.
  • Data Privacy: Zero Trust models can help enterprises protect their clients' private data, a particularly important issue in the wake of new data privacy laws such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Quantum Computing

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computers use quantum mechanics to solve problems considered impossible for today's computers. Unlike traditional computers, which use binary bits that can either be 0s or 1s, quantum computers use quantum bits or "qubits", which can be both at the same time. By harnessing the quantum properties of superposition and entanglement, qubits offer exponentially greater computing power than binary bits.

Why Now?

Though quantum computing will not be ready for large-scale enterprise use in the near future, its great potential has led both established and emerging vendors to actively invest in this technology. Read more from BCG.

Potential Applications

There are many potential applications of quantum computing, but some concrete examples we may see in the (distant) future include:

  • Drug Discovery: Applying the power of quantum computing to medical research could speed up drug discovery and development and allow for personalized medication.
  • Financial Services: Quantum computing can help revolutionize financial services by improving trading algorithms, reducing fraud, optimizing portfolios, and managing risk.

While many of these five technologies have been discussed for years, all are poised to make major gains in 2019. The time is ripe for enterprises like Citi to experiment with them and think about how they might benefit our clients.

What emerging technologies are you tracking that you believe can impact Citi and our clients?

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