Significant shifts are unraveling in the present business environment. With each passing day, the speed of this change is accelerating further. At the core of these massive transformations is technology, which is also altering how businesses operate.
In this article, we’ll discuss the top 10 technology trends for 2019 which are all highly anticipated to make a considerable impact (some already doing so) on businesses for this year and in the years to come.
More and more people are depending on the Internet of Things (IoT) for their everyday living. By 2020, experts predict that there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices worldwide. By extending Internet connectivity to devices and ordinary electronic gadgets, IoT offers a manifold of benefits such as machine-to-machine communication and interaction, automation of daily tasks, control, more information, monitoring, time and money savings, efficiency, and overall better quality of life.
Thanks to IoT’s smart, predictive problem solving and recommendations, customers will greatly benefit by gaining richer experiences from the products and services they buy. Talk about the new era of intelligent and highly efficient commodities—self-driving cars, smart devices (e.g., sensors, speakers, thermostats), robust security systems, and many erstwhile futuristic gadgets that are now a reality.
While consumers are clearly benefiting from the likes of Alexa, Google Home, and Alexa in improving their day-to-day activities, businesses are hands-down the bigger winner due to the massive innovations that IoT technologies bring to the table. Why? A survey on the top IoT benefits to businesses shows how this technology could bring about business efficiencies/higher productivity (25%), faster innovation cycles (19%), cost reductions (13%), increased profitability (11%), and accelerated time to market (9%).
As the global market continues to be inundated with intelligent, IoT-connected products, businesses stand to be more empowered to elevate value creation to new heights for the modern consumer. From transportation’s autonomous vehicles, trailblazing advances in healthcare, to vastly-enhanced consumer products and services, IoT software is touching and changing everything for the better.
Source: StatistaDesigned by
It’s common knowledge among SMBs that they can’t afford large, complex robots as these technologies don’t fit their limited floor space, require specialized personnel to program and maintain them, and are simply too expensive, with a payback period that is too long to justify the investment. But a new generation of collaborative robots (or “cobots”) is changing the game for smaller manufacturers, helping them compete more effectively, offering new opportunities for employees, and even improving worker safety. As of yearend 2018, more than 384,000 industrial robots had been installed in businesses worldwide.
Like other trends in technology, robotics applications are essentially removing long-standing limits of what people can do. A major area of growth is the continuing bold initiatives into factory and innovation automation, which had been producing exciting outcomes for industrial and business deployments. Service providers are among the leaders in robotic task automation, enabling employees to focus more on enhancing the client experience. Hospitality business players are deploying robots to make room deliveries to guests in hotels and resorts and even as far as their own residences.
As robotic technology continues to evolve, robots of any size, form, or function are being made to make living easier and more convenient for the present generation and for upcoming ones. Today, robots of all types are being designed to make up for human limitations, to lessen the workload, and allow managers and staff to spend more time on key business tasks. With a growing scale and improving functionality, a worldwide robotics technological mass-market will continue to expand and further affect the lives of billions of people.
The last decade saw a dramatic rise in the volume of business data and computational capabilities, which collectively drove massive AI advancements. Along with this is the global initiative that had spurred the emergence of cognitive systems that can forecast, suggest, think, and learn, similar to how people do. With hundreds of applications and still counting, AI is being hailed by technology leaders as a leading technology disruptor in recent years, today, and for the long term. AI is implanted into smart devices, software, chips, and other products. It is also emerging as a robust catalyst for change in business strategies and even for day-to-day enterprise practices.
Our understanding of what AI is today will likely transform in the next few years as the norm of what intelligence also evolves. As AI further enhances its capabilities and expands its applications, related computer technologies like chatbots are achieving human-like behavior and actions, such as the ability to more quickly and efficiently report to consumer needs, including anticipating what they’ll want, in the same manner as or even better than people.
Around 70% of businesses already implement an AI approach, which is why many CIOs are planning to prioritize leveraging data to gain robust insights for better decision making and improving the consumer experience. Further, AI is expected to impact industrial performance by mining data to help forecast customer behavior, foster machine learning, and identify environmental patterns. However, AI job postings in a major online social community and news site for IT professionals indicate a declining growth pattern. From May 2016 to May 2017, postings for AI jobs grew by 136%, for May 2017 to May 2018 they increased by 58%, and for May 2018 to May 2019, the same job postings only rose by 29%. This can be interpreted either as the supply of talent meeting the AI demand or that AI is taking over AI jobs. We’ll see a clearer picture in years to come.
Source: TechRepublicDesigned by
Another notable area among all digital trends is augmented analytics. Since a few years ago, this robust technology had been efficiently advancing business analytics using robust machine learning and integrating analytical capabilities like data science, process mining, data management, data preparation, business process management, etc. Even our existing knowledge on the reasons why we use business intelligence will likely change, too.
As enterprises gain considerable operational improvements through augmented analytics deployment, analytics and data technology providers are upgrading conventional software applications to boost their product and service offerings through a new breed of business intelligence and analytical solutions. Augmented analytics is designed to help employees, especially unskilled ones in data and analytics, automatically gain the needed skills set to expertly identify trends and other key patterns in huge data sets and make the correct recommendations and even predictions. This is why a study found that 74% of businesses worldwide intend to invest in new technologies, especially BI tools like augmented analytics, to enhance their operational productivity and efficiency.
With the rise of augmented analytics, gone are the days of laid-back reporting about the past with the emergence of conducting dynamic live updates and evidence-based predictions on what will happen in the market. As technology continues to evolve, so will self-learning platforms like augmented analytics as more data and information come our way.
Immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, together with communications solutions, will transform how users interact and see the world, thus resulting in a novel immersive experience. An increasing number of companies are already deploying immersive technologies for their consumer and operational use, including production. Conversational solutions are widely anticipated to integrate enhanced sensory means that will enable emotion detection based on the user’s facial expressions, while customer interactions will be more conversational, which adds the needed human touch.
With the help of these technologies, yesterday’s science fiction is now a reality. And businesses are already excited to know of its current and upcoming sets of applications. Initially confined to gaming and entertainment, VR is now helping businesses enhance consumer engagement and boost their sales. And since these technologies are becoming more affordable, many SMBs are now deploying them in their operations. A recent survey among US manufacturers found that the most widely-deployed industrial use of AR and VR are product design and developments (38%), safety and manufacturing skills training (28%), maintenance, repair or equipment operations (19%) and remote collaboration (19%).
Business use cases abound. For instance, property firms can use VR to allow their clients to virtually inspect the houses they’re selling as if your clients are actually there to check them out physically. If you’re a retailer, you can allow your clients to examine your product and service offerings using VR. If you’re an HR manager, you can use AR for employee training to prepare them for their actual work. With immersive technologies, the possibilities are vast. And by combining AR and VR with other related technologies, the possibilities are further enhanced, much to the benefit of businesses.
Product design and development%
Safety and manufacturing skills training%
Maintenance, repair or equipment operations%
Source: PwCDesigned by
The growth of APIs can be associated with the development of the SaaS market. When SaaS applications became the deployment of choice of businesses of all sizes, the APIs market also exploded. A basic element of software development, APIs have become an essential element of business technology. The long practice of tapping third-party API providers had been giving rise to numerous problems.
Thankfully, in recent years, instead of continuing their reliance on other developers, SaaS vendors have been providing their own API, which practically removes the need for a third-party provider. Doing this does not only remove most of the problems resulting from involving another vendor, but it also enables SaaS vendors to offer increased integration capacities in their software solutions. In fact, businesses are predicted to spend more than $25.9 billion on integration in 2019, representing a 12.7% increase compared to the previous year
Especially now that mobile phones and smart devices are widely used, APIs have become an important technology investment for SMBs, particularly for creating mobile apps and even websites. APIs also allow remote workers, including sales and support reps, to readily access relevant business data that are typically placed in highly secured storage.
Another previously future technology, a smart space is now widely used by businesses across industries. By providing a secure and realistic digital environment where people, systems, and apps can seamlessly interact, businesses can take advantage of these intelligent ecosystems to support their operations, boost collaboration among remote workers, and even enhance their marketing and related activities.
Smart spaces are also paving the way to a higher level of collaboration among matured and emerging technologies. With smart spaces, the integration of AI-empowered technologies, digital twins, blockchain, and edge computing becomes easier and more efficient in terms of industrial and business applications. Smart spaces, in essence, initially develop as separate technologies, which are then integrated from their individual silos to collaborate as a single unit to generate an environment of interaction and collaboration.
Globally, the smart space market is already picking up steam as it is projected to become a US$19.9 billion market by 2024, from its estimated value of US$8.5 billion. This market growth can be ascribed to innovations in home automation and the increasing adoption of smart technologies in both manufacturing facilities and commercial spaces.
This technology is also applicable in the physical world as it allows the incorporation of digital processes into your workplace, which translates to increased efficiency and resource savings. A paperless office not only allows a business to save energy and other limited resources, but it also enhances your brand’s CSR and corporate citizenship initiatives, especially among pro-environment consumers.
Source: Markets & MarketsDesigned by
Chatbots had been transforming the business-customer interaction for years. For 2019 and for the coming years, chatbots for customer support are expected to take the center stage as more and more businesses are deploying them in their websites to boost customer engagement. They’re not only available 24/7, but they can also seamlessly interact with every website visitor, with definitely zero waiting time whatsoever.
Once you embed a customer support chatbot into your company website, both prospective and existing customers will immediately receive the information they need, from product inquiries to pricing, to technical guidelines and troubleshooting advice. With such a rich customer experience—without the long-dreaded waiting time for a rep’s typically delayed action—these chatbots virtually transformed the customer support process into a far better version.
There are, indeed, quite a number of SMBs that are still anxious about the absence of the human touch, which could lessen user engagement. They might have some valid reasons for feeling bad about chatbots, but that’s with the previous generation of chatbots. Today, after undergoing significant advancements, along with significant enhancements from AI and machine learning, the current batch of chatbots are specifically designed to ensure a high level of customer engagement in every conversation. They can now identify and respond appropriately to user emotions, etc., thus ensuring the provision of relevant and meaningful responses. Because of the steady development of chatbot adaptation since 2018, 80–85% of businesses are predicted to deploy an increasing number of outcome-driven chatbots by 2020.
Blockchain, an innovative breed of distributed ledger, enables companies to track a transaction and do business with unverified parties even without the assistance of financial institutions like banks. This new capability significantly lessens business conflicts and throws in other benefits like append-only data structure, transparency, security, immutability, and decentralization, including with the other emerging technologies like IoT.
Although initially starting its application in financial transactions, blockchains are now extensively used in other sectors and industries, including supply chain, manufacturing, healthcare, and public service. This technology has the potential to enhance cash flow, shorten transaction settlement durations, and reduce costs. It has also spurred a wide range of blockchain-driven applications that use a number of the components and advantages of blockchain, including the popular bitcoins.
Well-developed blockchains are already providing numerous benefits. In fact, businesses are encouraged to start studying blockchain technology as it is expected to generate significant business opportunities as the global blockchain technology is predicted to grow to more than US$23.3 billion by 2023. A notable existing blockchain deployment is that of Walmart supply chain database application, which allows the monitoring of individual products directly to their very source, effectively elevating food supply standards. Amazon, on the other hand, is rolling out its blockchain initiatives for 2019, which allow its AWS clients to benefit from distributed ledger solutions in their own businesses.
Source: StatistaDesigned by
Last but not least is the digital twin, which is one of the most fascinating of all technological trends already transforming a number of business operations today and most likely in the coming years. Having this functional virtual model of a product, service, or a business process offers an extensive array of possibilities. With its twinning concept, it is pushing the concepts of augmented and virtual reality to an absolutely new level. In fact, by 2020, 30% of G2000 companies will utilize big data from digital twins of IoT connected business devices and products to enhance product innovation effectivity to achieve up to 25% efficiency gains.
For instance, you’ll be able to create different scenarios or simulate programs for new processes, equipment, or products so that you can readily make adjustments and fine-tuning measures before you use actual resources in producing or implementing them. Aside from having the unprecedented capability of solving problems before they emerge, a digital twin also provides the robust efficiency of preventing any wasteful use of company resources.
Gone are the days where people can talk to 3d hologram images only in sci-fi films. With digital twin technology, remote employees can be “physically” join and collaborate with colleagues in workplace meetings and business conferences, anytime, anywhere. These are among the main reasons why an increasing number of businesses are already using this technology. In fact, this technology is already deployed in a wide range of industries, from oil fields, car manufacturing plants, hospital operations, wind farms, to name a few.
As can be seen above, the business implications of these disruptive, trending technologies are vast and compelling. While each of these technological trends has its own set of particular applications and benefits, their collective use, if applicable to your own context, is undoubtedly the best approach to deployment. Collectively, IoT, AI, and the rest of these technological trends are already empowering today’s businesses.
While large enterprises tend to have the facility to easily adopt new technologies into their operations, the situation of small businesses is different and more challenging, given the realities of limited resources, including time considerations. Likewise, there’s the challenge of knowing which of these emerging technological trends are necessary for your operations. This is why it is suggested that SMBs first do their homework of determining the need for a particular technology and then try it first before making an actual purchasing decision and deploying it in your workplace.
If you’re a marketing firm, it’s good to check out augmented analytics and artificial intelligence software, as integrating them will help you save time and even make better market predictions. If you’re a manufacturer, try some entry-level robots that can boost your production capability and efficiency while giving your staff the opportunity to focus on other crucial tasks. If you’re an online seller, it is a sound strategy to test if embedding immersive technologies into your online stores would help you boost your customer engagement and ultimately allow you to reach your sales targets.
Because there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, the key to making a good technology purchase decision is understanding the nature of your business and the current demands of your operations, especially what your employees need. It’s also a good practice to regularly hone your knowledge of technology trends, such as the future of IoT and big data, or how AI technologies are transforming CRM and other business processes.
Whether you want to remain relevant or gain competitive advantage, achieve operational innovations to boost agility or cut costs, or create new approaches to serve and derive value from your clients, these technological trends are likely to achieve certain permanence and increased use in the years to come.
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