Technology is constantly evolving and it’s not easy for companies to thrive – not just survive – in this competitive environment; unless they look at technology as an ally and not a foe. Imagine the world of possibilities, once you are armed with the right technology (and the right people), at the right time!
From the dynamism of artificial intelligence (AI) and the pervasiveness of the internet of things (IoT) to the untapped efficiencies of blockchain and the limitless business potential of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), this is the year of creating an immersive, digitally enhanced and connected environment. Did someone just say that voice will become a mainstay at hi-tech companies?
Here’s everything that you need to know about the emerging technologies that are all set to take 2018 by storm:
It’s safe to say that 2017 was the year of bitcoin. While the future of the much-hyped cryptocurrency is still dicey, the good news is that bitcoin has put blockchain – the technology behind it – back in focus. For those who came in late, blockchain is basically a shared, distributed, decentralized and tokenized ledger that essentially distributes power and risk equitably across players in a network, thereby securely managing access and information.
Although the technology has been largely equated with banking and finance, blockchain has the potential to disrupt almost every industry. Whether it’s the music business, digital retail, urban transport, healthcare services, or even governance, it has diverse applications. The concept of smart contracts that automatically verify actions without compromising data security is changing the way hi-tech companies do business across the globe. Enterprises need to consider the business opportunities in order to ride the blockchain wave in 2018.
Internet of Things
According to Gartner, 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020. Another report notes that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions between 2015 and 2020. In other words, the Internet of Things will only get bigger! From home security devices and cars to manufacturing units and wind farms, everything is getting smarter, thanks to the seamless integration of geospatial data across devices.
For hi-tech companies, the biggest advantage of adopting IoT is the ability to optimize and automate systems, while minimizing errors caused by human inefficiencies. While there are many exciting developments across the enterprise IoT and consumer IoT space, the evolution of the digital twin – a digital representation of a real-world entity or system – is something to look out for. Experts foresee digital twins helping with asset management, adding value to operational efficiency and offering new business insights in the near future.
What was the most trending tech buzzword of 2017? It has to be the technology that facilitates dynamic, flexible and autonomous systems to improve decision making, reinvent business models, and boost customer experience. However, a Gartner survey shows that 59 per cent of organizations are still rounding up information to build their AI strategies, while others have had some success in piloting or adopting AI solutions.
In 2018, hi-tech companies will need to look at AI as a critical sales, marketing and customer support tool. The idea, basically, is to start applying AI solutions to get a deeper understanding of customer intentions, patterns and preferences. Across industries, businesses are investing in chatbots, not only to communicate with their customers, but also to offer an interactive user experience, courtesy artificial intelligence. In case, you are yet to take the plunge, this is the year to invest in the power of intelligent machines!
Augmented reality & virtual reality
Enterprises today are no longer limited by the realities of the physical world. AR and VR are changing the way things work in an ever-evolving digital ecosystem. With Apple’s release of ARkit and Google’s ARCore, 2018 could very well be the year of innovative and immersive experiences. It’s time for the head-mounted displays and smartphone- and tablet-based chic applications to go mainstream.
An increasing number of startups are building high-value-add services for hi-tech companies. And as the hardware and software continue to improve, enterprises worldwide are investing resources in creating VR and AR experiences that help better engagement with customers. Experts predict that over the next few years, the focus will be on mixed reality, wherein the user interacts with digital and real-world objects while maintaining a presence in the physical world. To stay relevant, enterprises need to keep their ear to the ground, and be ready to embrace change.
With Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and the general buzz around voice-activated virtual assistants gradually gaining ground, the way people search for information is changing. In the meanwhile, voice in the enterprise is already powering productivity and collaboration efforts.
Contrary to popular perception, there’s much more to digital assistants than helping with directions and scheduling appointments! Once the confluence of hardware, platform, apps and workflows is in place, it’s only a matter of time before voice searches or voice assistants demonstrate their full potential. As an innovative way of interacting with technology, hi-tech companies will find myriad opportunities to use voice in advertising, social media profiles and everyday consumer interactions. While some businesses will see voice search as an SEO challenge, there will be others focusing on the prospect of optimizing online assets and driving new digital experiences. The question to ask yourself is: Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
All in all
No matter what the technology, it’s no more than a means to an end. And for successful enterprises, the end is always the customer experience. So, as you brace yourself for the big five emerging technologies of 2018, look at the big picture. Don’t just go with the flow; visualize where you want to be and work backwards to realize that vision. Because, as the wise say, change is inevitable, progress is not.