Each year, Gartner publishes an article on upcoming strategic technology trends. Although these trends will not be applicable to each and every business, paying careful attention to the overall direction of enterprise technology enables the savvy owner to remain ahead of the curve.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been seen as the “holy grail” of computer technology for some time. This particular field of research has advanced at a tremendous pace in recent years, and is set to become one of the most important area for technological development in the coming years and decades. Although we’re still far from HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, AI is becoming a larger and larger piece of enterprise software. You may remember IBM’s Watson’s time on Jeopardy, this real-world test of an AI’s application may have seemed to be fun-and-games, but has some very consequential applications. Recently, Watson has been adapted to perform intelligent cancer screening. An AI has the capability of analyzing millions of pieces of information in spans of time a human being would be incapable of matching. AI is also used by the new wave of personal assistant devices—Google Home, Amazon Echo, Google Now, and Siri all use AI to interpret your input to them, and deliver relevant results. For enterprise customers, AI is something to look for in a software solution’s 5-10 year business plan. For the enterprise, AI’s real-world application comes from analytics.
Artificial Intelligence will likely be incorporated into almost every app, application, and service at some level in the coming years.
The true power of AI is its ability to act as an intermediary layer between a human and a software interface. This can be seen with the ease to which your phone allows to you set reminders, make appointments, or dinner reservations, all by speaking to it. By placing an AI as the intermediary between the human operator and the software backend, enterprise applications will leverage its ability to understand human input to translate commands into software the computer understands. This, in turn, will bring greater efficiency to software applications by eliminating the need for clunky hard-to-understand interfaces. Imagine how much time and energy could be saved by eliminating the need to train staff on that overly complicated ERP application you’ve been running every aspect of your business from.
In a similar vein to AI, augmented and virtual reality platforms (AR / VR) may be on the cusp of revolutionizing some segments of the SMB software space. Although both technologies are primarily being leveraged for entertainment now, as they advance they will undoubtedly find greater utility in the enterprise space. AR and VR could be used by real-estate agents to virtually walk prospective buyers through a home for sale, or as a presentation tool by an architect or contractor to show investors and clients a fully-realized virtual version of a building that only exists inside a computer.
Additionally, AR and VR technologies will bring greater utility and efficiency to the operating systems we interact with each and every day. Although an interface in the style of Minority Report would certainly bring about some tired arms, AR and VR technologies are already being experimented with by Microsoft and other software companies as a new and more intuitive means of interacting with your computer, tablet, or phone.
The final trend that I would like to highlight is one that we have written about at length before—the internet of things.
As wireless technology has advanced, it has become much simpler to connect previously “dumb” devices to the internet, opening a world of interaction and management where none previously existed. Manufacturing floors can be intelligently alerts that a piece of equipment on the line has failed or is in need of maintenance. Printers could make the same notification, or order additional paper or consumables. The most cutting edge advancements in this field are coming from the military and defense contractors—they’re leveraging swarm technology to allow many rudimentary devices to work in concert to produce more intelligent outcomes—similar to a swarm of bees or an ant colony.
In summation—business owners would do well to put the time in to investigate the direction that technology is heading in the coming months, years, and decades. Although some of the technology I have outlined in this article have only a few real world applications at present, the pace of technological innovation means that that could change literally overnight. Keeping up with the pace of innovation will mean the difference between growth and stagnation as intelligent machines become more and more interwoven into our lives, and business.
Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm that provides Managed Services including hosted cloud solutions. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com or call (951) 813-2672.