Business and technology are no longer two separate entities. They are intertwined and integral to each other’s success. As business changes, technology changes in order to better serve it. And as technology advances, business embraces it in order to become more effective and efficient. 2018 is no exception. A number of technologies have become massive trends throughout many sectors. They are causing disruptions and changing some of the most deeply ingrained business-as-usual processes. Here is a look at the top technology trends and how they are making an impact.
1. Digital twins
A digital twin is a virtual model of real-world assets, such as complex machinery. These models can provide companies with precise oversight of how physical systems are operating. The application of this technological system most obviously fits into the manufacturing, mining, and agriculture sectors, but businesses in other industries could also utilise digital twins in various ways. Companies can be updated if an asset is malfunctioning and can receive early warnings if it needs to be serviced.
The real disruption behind this technology, however, lies in the fact that a digital twin can be used to make simulations. This means that if a company wants to change the way they use the asset, they can test it out on the digital twin to see the various scenarios and their outcomes.
Most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrencies and the finance industry. However, nearly every sector has begun to develop proofs of concept for how blockchain could be harnessed. So far, the most popular potential applications include creating more accessible and transferable medical records, enhancing security, and optimising the supply chain. But this is just the beginning. As of February, more than 2,500 blockchain-adjacent patents had been filed.
3. Brick-and-mortar technology
While much of the technology that is in development and nearly ready to be implemented may make it appear that doomsday for brick-and-mortar stores is nearing, it is not—well at least not necessarily. The physical shops that will remain are the ones that are finding ways to integrate e-commerce into the shopping experience. This might look like replacing cash registers with automated payments. It could be personalising in-store push notifications, so that as customers walk through the store they are notified of special offers and products that they might like. Or, it could be offering digital advisors, allowing store visitors to immediately get answers to the questions they have instead of going on a hunt for a salesperson.
4. Data sharing
For years it has been the big companies that have profited from the data the consumers freely give them. However, individuals and governments are starting to recognise that they need to be compensated for this valuable resource—or at least they need to have a bigger say in how their data is used. In 2018, this is becoming a trend through several avenues. The first is through harnessing the power of blockchain. Take, for example, dock.io. This cryptocurrency is using Ethereum to place personal data in a blockchain that applications can have access to, but giving ownership of the data back to the individuals. Another method that is encouraging data sharing is PSD2. This regulation is forcing banks to provide customer data to third parties, such as FinTech companies, creating unlimited potential for innovation as well as greater data security.
5. Prescriptive analytics
In 2017, machine learning exploded. As did analytics workflow automation and the utilisation of smart data discovery. In 2018, companies are finding ways to combine these technologies. The end goal is to harness large amounts of dark or unstructured data and feed it into machine learning algorithms that will slowly find better and better ways of digesting the data and providing insightful analyses. As the technology advances, companies will be able to get in-depth predictions of market developments and even recommendations on business strategy. This combined with automating the process will allow organisation leaders to guide businesses in innovative directions and provide customers with optimised services and products.
6. AI expansion
Throughout the remainder of 2018, AI will only continue to gain dominance in more and more industries. Law firms, which have historically been averse to implementing technological advances, will begin integrating AI into lower-level tasks, such as discovery and contract creation. The hospitality industry is starting to find innovative ways to provide AI-powered services, such as personalised concierge offerings and chatbots. Additionally, because of advances made in natural language processing, a greater number of businesses will introduce AI bots into customers service. These bots will be able to adjust to individuals’ speech patterns and even accents. They will also be able to more appropriately react to customers’ feelings and provide more advanced assistance.
In 2017, the issue was cyber security failures. Countless companies were hacked and data was breached. In 2018, the cybersecurity trend will be a response to these failures. One of the larger efforts that will begin and grow over the next few years is quantum encryption. Currently, the majority of cyber attacks are being committed with the use of classic computers. Cyber attacks are about to be elevated, though, as governments and crime syndicates develop quantum and supercomputers. These computers can crack just about any encryption out there. Therefore, in order to prevent this, the quantum encryption market will see marked growth.
8. Mobile workforce security
Jobs are becoming increasingly remote. Employees are working from home, a plane, and on short-term assignments halfway around the globe. In 2018, companies are going to begin opting for mobile technology that is not only convenient, but that is also secure. This technology will provide more user access control, such as multi-factor authentication, smart card access, and near field communication. It will also offer smart USB protection, which keeps the functionality of input devices while blocking the data transfer capability, and camera shutters, which prevents camera hacking.
The technological advancements that we’re embracing in 2018 are disruptive, but bold businesses can capitalise on them to provide a better working environment and a more customer-friendly approach.