Innovations and new technologies are more accessible than ever, as is growing awareness of how the application of technology can create business opportunities. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality are terms we will use more and more often in business and everyday life.
When we consider how fast innovations and new technologies are changing the world around us, it's not surprising that many are trying to keep up with recent tech innovations. It seems that the formula of success, in addition to luck, requires constant monitoring of new trends as well as recognizing the advantages of their application in business.
The Strategy of Integrating New Technologies
Technologies enable companies to distribute their product more efficiently, faster, and at a lower cost to a growing number of users. Once upon a time, large companies were slow in adopting new technologies, but a new era has also brought new business trends. After small businesses were the first to make huge profits, it no longer became questionable that every business today is inextricably linked to new technology and science advances.
Companies should be guided by the idea of how to use new technologies to gain an advantage over the competition. The technology the company chooses can also be a kind of an engine that will launch it into a market it would otherwise not reach. The introduction of new technologies in a business is cost expensive, but it can also reduce costs in the long term. Determining what will be the next new star in the sky of technological innovations is no easy task. Here are the top ten technologies business organizations need to explore in the foreseeable future.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Slowly but surely, artificial intelligence (AI) is maturing with increasing problem-solving success and interactions that are becoming simpler and smarter. Expectations for this technology are incredibly high. The findings of the Global AI Survey show a nearly 25 percent year-over-year increase in the use of AI in standard business processes. Artificial intelligence is expected to revolutionize the way companies gather information as well as how they interact with customers.
Global AI Survey brings more interesting data on the application of artificial intelligence in business:
80% of respondents from the highest performing companies say they have adopted AI in marketing and sales
74% of respondents have adopted or plan to adopt AI, saying their organizations will increase their AI investment in the next three years
63% of respondents report revenue increases from AI adoption in the business units where their companies use AI
60% of respondents in retail are saying their companies have embedded at least one AI capability in one or more functions or business units
58% of respondents report that their organizations have embedded at least one AI capability into a process or product in at least one function or business unit
44% of respondents reported cost savings from AI adoption
2. Augmented Reality (AR)
In the past, a lot of hope has been placed in the ability to put visual data into our natural, realistic environment. Science fiction has once again been a leader in predicting the future, where augmented reality users can upgrade or expand their current environment with a visual display of their choice. The first attempts were not very successful, so the enthusiasm for augmented reality briefly waned. The best example of this was Google Glass, which, despite high expectations, failed to achieve the desired application in everyday life and work. But in 2015, Pokemon launched its Pokemon Go game, which changed everything.
Forbes brings an excellent review of innovative business use cases of augmented reality in 2020, stating that this will be the year of its increasing use in many different industries, like healthcare and education. As one of the conclusions, they state that the development of enterprise AR/VR solutions has by far outgrown the fields of gaming and entertainment where it first became popular.
As one of today's most sought after new technologies, blockchain is just beginning its impact on the business world. It is one of the hottest topics of discussion, not only in the business world but also among customers and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Blockchain is a technology that could change the way we do business and the economy we know today. These somewhat frightening predictions justify the fears of many who say that we cannot predict the consequences of blockchain's practical application in our daily lives, the risks, and how much we are prepared for them.
Harvard professors Marco Lansiti and Karim Lakhani, in their article "The Truth about Blockchain" in the Harvard Business Review, describe how blockchain offers a digital solution for managing interactions between companies, organizations, and even countries. They define blockchain as an open and divisible type of balance sheet that records transactions between two parties in a verifiable and secure manner.
Economic experts predict that end-consumers are even unlikely to be fully aware of the use of this technology in the future. Its use in various applications and new payment methods is becoming more and more present even now, with users not thinking of it as handling blockchain technology, but as a secure money transaction without an additional fee.
Along with military usage, the time came for the increasing use of drones for commercial purposes. These ever-smaller remote-controlled aircraft are still at an early stage when we talk about the global adoption and use of this technology. Yet, these little flying robots very quickly break down barriers in the industry that have so far been insurmountable. Given the declining costs of manufacturing commercial drones, the door is opening to countless opportunities to exploit their potential.
In the next few years, drone sales are expected to increase by a staggering $17 billion. Drones come in all shapes and sizes, from small and cheap to large quadcopters with a built-in GPS device and multiple cameras. Sales are primarily aimed at hobbyists and enthusiasts, but the market shows strong sales growth and growing demand for personal and commercial purposes.
5. Internet of Things (IoT)
The simplest way to describe the Internet of Things is as a network of smart devices, from running a washing machine via an app to a car without a driver inside. The full advantage of this technology can be achieved when many devices communicate and share data. The biggest problems IoT faces today are compatibility and security related.
The five predictions for the future of IoT, according to the Forrester report are as follows:
The security of IoT technology will become a priority in business
Consumers will embrace smart speaker displays, driving the rise of multimodal design
IoT architects will integrate 5G into new designs
Connected trucks will use IoT to catalyze logistics and supply chain transformation
A major vendors shift will occur from connected products to a connected services ecosystem
6. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Already widespread in the industry, robots are becoming more efficient, reliable, and increasingly present in non-industrial environments such as schools, hospitals, or warehouses. They drive our roads, fly over our heads, and take on many jobs that were unthinkable without the human factor until recently. Although there is still a fear of losing jobs, it has been proven that robots increase productivity resulting in increased profits. As history has shown, this increase in profits has led to an increase in jobs in the services sector, which is by no means easy to automate.
Robotization of production and business processes allows companies to automate a wide range of time-consuming processes, such as analyzing customer complaints, enrolling patients, and much, much more. With the help of robots, people can focus on the more exciting and challenging parts of their work, resulting in better engagement on strategic tasks and high-quality results.
7. Autonomous Things (AuT)
An autonomous thing (AuT) is a physical object (robot, vehicle, smart home device, etc.) capable of functioning, moving freely, and communicating without any kind of human intervention. Autonomous things are equipped with sensors, machine learning algorithms, and analytical capabilities that allow them to make their own decisions and perform tasks independently.
The use of AuT is envisioned in various business processes, including those in retail, transportation, agriculture, or even in weather forecasting. One example of a successful AuT application in business is autonomous robots that perform routine operations in warehousing and production, increasing the entire supply chain's efficiency.
AuT technology is still evolving, but rapid progress reveals new business application areas and encourages the further growth of the already fast-growing market. As an example of rapid progress within this technology, Business Insider reports about new successes in the field of AuT - Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised a "quantum leap" in the development of autonomous vehicles. The new generation of autonomous vehicles produced by Tesla should have level 5 autonomy, which means they will be the first fully self-driving cars.
8. Edge Computing
IDC predicts the global data volume increase from 45 Zettabytes (ZB) in 2019 to 175ZB by 2025. In centralized cloud architectures, data is sent to origin or cloud servers, preventing quick data access when it comes to a large amount of data. Edge computing is designed to solve this problem by performing the computing locally, at the "edge" of the network, reducing latency and bandwidth use.
The potential business application is endless, but edge computing is especially significant in industries where real-time analytics is necessary, such as the oil and gas industry, medicine, or autonomous machines. Edge computing allows sensors to quickly detect and communicate potential problems without the need to rely on a quality connection to the centralized cloud data storage.
Besides processing time-sensitive data, edge computing can provide business organizations with various other benefits, including bandwidth cost savings, better privacy, and a solution in situations of poor network connectivity.
9. Virtual Reality (VR)
Although the focus of virtual reality development has been on video game development, more and more companies are seeing the potential in virtual reality business applications. It is predicted to improve teleconferencing by providing as realistic a feel as possible in business meetings. Classroom applications should revolutionize the way we learn and experience the world around us. The relationship between the human resources department and employees will change, and there are high expectations for the use of virtual reality in healthcare and human health in general.
China is one of the most prominent players in virtual reality development - in 2020, the VR market in China is around $8 billion in size. Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs Research predicts that VR/AR will become an $80 billion market by 2025, roughly the total value of the desktop market today. Others predict even higher numbers for virtual reality in the business world so the future seems very virtual.
10. 3D Printing
3D printing is not an entirely new technology - it's been around since the 80s. Today, 3D printing has grown into an industry worth more than $6 billion and is increasingly present in all sectors. When it comes to prototype design and construction, 3D printing shows its most significant advantages - reducing the time and cost required to obtain the final product. 3D printers are useful for both large and small production volumes.
The efficient and economical solution offered by this technology will change the industry and production. With the advancement of 3D printing technology, the way we look at things will also change. For example, the food production industry can be completely transformed using 3D printers. Once again, everything is reminiscent of some popular sci-fi series and movies but didn't not so long ago portable cordless phones or the todays Internet sound impossible to many?