The importance of new trends in technology isn’t lost on anyone, especially for businesses and business owners. It’s also not lost on your competition. Trends are trends for a reason; when it comes to technology, things are often popular because they’re effective.
According to Ray Kurzweil, the famous futurist, author, and Google executive, “when the right technology is combined with business disciplines, it creates enormous possibilities because of the exponential growth of the technology and what it means to business.”
But what is the “right technology” and what is the next big trend you should focus on for your industry, business discipline, and brand? Here is some of the cutting-edge tech that’s transforming how business is done.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is built on the idea that everything that has an on-off switch can be connected to a network, and/or each other. Advances in IoT applications promise to revolutionize analytics and networking. By increasingly and constantly connecting billions of IoT-enabled devices, businesses are making leaps in data management and service automation. The amount of information and the speed of analysis that IoT can offer now helps many business professionals work more efficiently – and profitably – than ever before.
For example, truck manufacturer Navistar created versatile datasets using connected technology to reduce management costs for its 180,000-truck fleet by 80%. IoT implementation benefits have also prompted heavyweights such as Microsoft to invest heavily in IoT analytics.
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Machine Learning
Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are pushing artificial intelligence into the mainstream. Experts agree that the greatest changes will occur through the implementation of what’s known as narrow A.I. – technology capable of utilizing machine learning to fulfill specific, data-intensive tasks like email spam filters or self-driving car technology.
Thanks to advances in A.I. and machine learning, some company leaders have turned to chatbots for automating and streamlining their customer service interactions. Computer programs that can respond to customers via auditory or textual methods, chatbots are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave in conversation. More robust conversational technology can benefit jobs that span multiple industries by delivering advanced user-friendly interactive experiences.
Augmented Reality (AR)
With augmented reality providing visual overlays on physical objects – the popular app Pokémon Go being the most famous example of AR technology – researchers predict that “mixed reality” (a technology that combines digital and real-world objects to create a virtual user experience while keeping users rooted in the present) will be a key aspect in the future of AR.
The current and developing business applications of AR are largely cosmetic, such as Amazon’s app that allows users to see what products would look like in their homes, or automakers letting potential customers see a new car in their driveway. But this is also the sort of application of new technology that’s capable of capturing the public’s imagination.
The blockchain is a continuously growing list of records called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. The technology has great potential to transform business operating models in the long term. With cryptography capable of creating private keys, blockchain technology spares a person from having to share more personal information than they need to for an exchange. Unnecessary exchanges leave users more exposed to hackers.
Though blockchain technology can be integrated into multiple areas, its primary use at the moment is as a distributed ledger for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Technology with the potential to create cryptographic keys, and shared ledgers able to incentivize users to secure and formalize digital relationships has everyone from governments to IT firms to banks seeking to incorporate this transaction layer.
An increasing number of businesses are turning to MSPs (Managed Services Providers) to help them better understand, implement, and manage their cloud-based services. Using public clouds is not only a money-saving option (especially with the added benefit of ongoing support), it has also created a demand for so-called hybrid clouds, which are cloud computing environments that use a mix of on-premises, private clouds and third-party public cloud services with orchestration between the platforms.
As more business professionals better understand the advantages, flexibility, and value of hybrid clouds, it’s likely that cloud platforms will remain a force used for consolidating or even eliminating antiquated on-premises business systems.
Though an autonomous system relates to the complex network of networks that makes up the internet, Apple’s work with Cisco shows that autonomous systems can also be used to describe a machine equipped with enough contextual awareness to understand and respond appropriately to outside stimulus, while also learning and improving the task(s) assigned to it. The Internet of Things (IoT) means we already have millions of connected devices, including lights and thermostats. “From our point of view, autonomy is sort of the mother of all AI projects,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
The takeaway for your business: strike while the iron is hot, and do it before your competition does. Ensure that you ride the technological wave by keeping up with the latest technological trends; don’t allow your business to get left behind. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says: “Figuring out what the next big trend is tells us what we should focus on.”
Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer