It seems like every year more technologies from old sci-fi movies are coming to the real world. Self-driving cars, AI assistants, communicator watches, hoverbikes, and other contraptions actually exist today thanks to creative innovators and the ongoing digital revolution. Each year the tech trend hype kicks up a notch while everyone tries to follow along with the latest gadgets.
The outburst of technology has completely changed the global market, how companies operate, and competition within industries. It's sink or swim for business leaders—without a digital strategy in place soon, the future of many companies could soon hang in the balance. On the upside, the implementation of new technologies could score unprecedented success.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency became quite the rage in 2018, though more practical applications will be developed this year. Eliminating the need for a middle-man, such as a bank, government office, or company, speeds up business transactions by reducing red tape and saving on mediator fees. Blockchain is increasing the feasibility of direct deals by providing a ledger platform for recording transactions and product distribution, creating a traceable trail viewable to all business partners. As business partners cut out their go-between, more trust will be established, more money will be made, and productivity will accelerate.
If blockchain sounds way out of your company's league, don't dismiss it entirely. Eventually, blockchain will change the face of both national and global business transactions.
While online agents continue to reel consumers into the novelty and convenience of Internet-based apps, consumers are becoming more aware that their personal data is being exploited. Users cutting down on social media time for privacy and other personal reasons are still followed by other websites collecting their information with every click.
EU's rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation was the first big step toward digital privacy, and at least ten other countries have followed suit. The US Congress is already taking steps to legislate national privacy laws this year, but the question is, how much will it be influenced by the tech industry? Through the ITI, major tech companies have already released a framework for data policy laws to the federal government. If tech companies end up setting the privacy law’s foundation, whose interests will be favored–those of consumers or sellers?
Waiting endlessly on hold for a customer service representative while listening to “We value your call, an agent will speak with you soon” play over and over again is just maddening. It’s been 20 minutes...when is “soon” going to happen! If you valued my call someone would have answered it by now!
Chatbots to the rescue, available 24/7 to answer standard customer inquiries with just a few taps on a smartphone or laptop. A recent study revealed well-designed chatbots can accurately provide responses for more than 80 percent of customer inquiries. As chatbot development increases, so will its answering capabilities. Goodbye, annoying hold messages, hello, chatbots.
Business Process Automation
Paperwork. A dreaded monotony in the office, even when it's on a computer. Most employees would rather be using their expertise for innovation than filling out forms and sifting through emails. BPA has been around for a while, but companies thriving in automated workflows are still the minority.
This year, an increasing number of businesses will take the plunge into the wonderful world of automated processes, where time will be geared toward improving product quality and client relations instead of hunting documents, completing forms, and maintaining email. No-code automation platforms enable anyone with workflow knowledge to create an application, saving time and money on IT resources. Through Robotic Process Automation (RPA), tech-forward companies will completely hand over monotonous tasks to bots. Cheers to amplified productivity and less paperwork.
Expect to see more UFOs—unmanned flying objects—hovering about in 2019. Over 100,000 Remote Pilot Certificates have now been issued by the FAA for commercial and recreational use.
The FAA is granting more waivers to selected applicants to fly drones beyond their visual line of sight, broadening the scope of commercial drone use. For industries such as agricultural, oil, insurance, construction, mining, public safety, utilities, and survey engineering, drones will enhance digital transformation for SMBs and enterprises alike by increasing efficiency and improving internal operations. As organizations become more familiar with drones and their constructive uses, implementation will continue to spread.
Step aside, Pokemon Go and Google Glass, to make way for some useful commercial applications of augmented reality. Digital and real worlds collide in an interactive experience overlaying information about an environment onto the real world, tapping into the senses via smartphones or wearable devices. Locating items in a warehouse, automatic sign translation, and receiving instructions for hands-on labor are just a few of the expanding commercial AR uses. Interactive whiteboards are gaining popularity in the office, where developers can overlay designs on real-world objects.
This year we'll see AR begin to make its way into vehicles to notify drivers of hazardous objects, landmarks, directions, and more on dashboards or even on the windshield. AR has a nearly unlimited capacity to help us more safely and easily manipulate the space around us.
While machines aren't taking over the world anytime soon, they are becoming increasingly able to analyze data, make decisions, and program applications. Additional companies will begin to bring on AI technologies to forecast predictions and make business decisions based on machine-driven recommendations. Even businesses not yet ready to take on AI are realizing the need for data-driven company culture to improve analytics. As data science expands, so will AI innovation and implementation.
Software engineers will soon find themselves working with AI counterparts. AI-powered development systems will take no-code application platforms to a new level, enabling non-professionals to design business solutions completely. Gartner predicts by 2022, 40% of new application development will involve AI co-developers.
It's no secret that some past developments have turned out to be flops, and fine-tuning will be required for many tools to reach their full potential. Still, big leaps are expected this year, so let's follow along and see what sci-fi-come-to-life invention will make its debut.