3 Technology Innovations That Are Changing Businesses
The three Innovations that are included in this article today are necessarily different from those that might have been chosen earlier this year. What then seemed important and trending, has been comprehensively overtaken by the sea change in the business and social environments because of Covid-19.
The growing implications of remote working, online commerce and online financial management have overtaken other considerations as the drivers of business and social change. Companies and business sectors are scampering to revise their strategies, and some, unfortunately, are destined to disappear. Others will change beyond recognition.
There are, however, some general trends that will still affect business in 2020 and onwards:
Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) has made great inroads into business since the millennium:
- Linked with Big Data, AI has helped advertising and marketing identify their audience and adjust campaigns for greater effectiveness;
- AI has enabled the development of automated transport. Without AI, fly-by-wire planes and driverless cars could not operate;
- Positional technologies – Quite apart from enabling self-driving cars, GPS, LIDAR, radar and other sensory applications contribute to greater awareness of our environment. When linked to AI processing, positional technologies will enable other applications. LIDAR and ground-penetrating radar especially are starting to help archaeological research by displaying previously hidden sites of interest and AI analysis is expected to branch out into other areas of study.
- Business operational costs and employment opportunities. Transferring mundane and routine tasks to automated processes using AI reduces operational costs, often at the expense of employment. Enlightened employers see this as an opportunity to upskill workers and transfer them to tasks that can’t be carried out by machines.
This trend is not confined to manufacturing alone. VoIP and automated voice response systems, intelligent chatbots like Siri and Alexa, and Ai driven applications in business areas such as loan request processing are replacing human operatives.
AI is probably the most significant enabler of business and social change right about now. AI technology will continue to develop, even to the extent of some commentators becoming worried about an AI Armageddon where AI capabilities will become self-replicating and self-developing, exceeding human intelligence. The robots will take over, relegating humankind to slave status. It is also known as “The Singularity” and speculation puts it happening at around 2030.
A significant concern in many quarters is the increasing amount and detail of information held about individuals and organisations and the privacy implications. Many governmental and supra-governmental organisations are preparing laws and directives for how personal data is to be stored, shared and processed. The EU have been leaders in this respect, while some countries have ignored personal privacy issues and used data, overtly or covertly to pursue their objectives.
The Data Protection objective, broadly speaking, is to ensure that only the information needed to carry out a task is collected and that it is it not improperly shared or used. However, large linked databases of information already exist in the public and private sectors. Google yourself to see how much data is already available on the Internet.
Estimates are that only 10% of all recorded information is immediately available on the Internet, with the remainder held in the “Dark Internet”, of which most users are unaware.
AI and Big Data enables a highly granular analysis of individuals and organisations, predicting their intentions individually and en bloc. Currently, there is much speculation around the use of AI analysis and other automated processes to influence and manipulate the results of major events like elections. The 2016 US Presidential election, the UK 2016 EU referendum, and the UK 2019 General Election are a case in point.
A trend that will persist, and probably never entirely fade away will be the balancing act between the need for further controls on the collection, retention, dissemination, processing and destruction of digital personal data and the desire of governments and large corporate entities to use it to further their agendas.
A continual revision of business policies and procedures towards data security and protection will be ongoing.
The glue sticking these trends together is telecommunications. The lockdowns following Covid-19 have seen a significant increase in telecommunications, particularly in people working from home.
The ability of networks to link employees and employers and deliver content consistently and reliably is now of paramount importance. This is true, not only in business and commerce but in Education and the general supply of online information and services.
A developing trend is that networks use AI to become self-learning, self-healiing, self-configuring and self-managing entities at individual, campus and national levels.
The growth and development of Telecommunications networks, particularly the deployment of WiFi in public spaces, will drive many other related business and social changes. While not immediately visible and often not understood, this is perhaps the trend that will have the most effect on our lives.