We’ve all heard about cloud, mobility and big data. These digital trends have been hugely disruptive — any business that hasn’t embraced them is already a dinosaur.
But there are other digital disruptors that you perhaps didn’t think applied to the corporate world. These trends have the potential to profoundly impact the way we do business in the coming years. Here are four technologies that should be on the radar of every CIO and middle manager.
1. Internet of Things
The IoT extends far beyond the ability of your smart watch to track sleep patterns or your car to ‘talk’ to an empty parking spot (although those apps are pretty cool). More than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the IoT by 2020.
This involves adding sensors to ‘things’ and connecting those things to other things, whether devices, systems or people. But, according to Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2016, the IoT is moving from ‘sensing’ to ‘doing.’
The value of IoT lies in the information it creates: “Strategically deployed, analytics can help organizations translate IoT’s digital data into meaningful insights that can be used to develop new products, offerings and business models,” says the Deloitte report. “IoT can provide a line of sight into the world outside company walls, and help strategists and decision makers understand their customers, products and markets more clearly.”
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2. Augmented and Virtual Reality
No longer the domain of gamers, augmented and virtual reality are finding their way into the workplace — in a big way. (To clarify, virtual reality immerses you in a digital world, while augmented reality layers digital information onto the physical world — say, via apps and on mobile devices.)
Goldman Sachs expects AR/VR to be a US$80 billion market by 2025 — that’s the size of the desktop PC market today — in sectors such as real estate, retail, healthcare and education. And developing apps for AR/VR is becoming even easier with so many players in the game: Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, to name a few.
VR could make a big impact on training and collaboration in the workplace, and AR (say, via smart glasses) could provide access to hands-free data for field workers and service providers. The potential is limitless: Lowes, for example, is testing out ‘holorooms’ in some of its stores where customers can envision their home renovation plans.
Bitcoin tends to be associated with the purchase of illicit goods in online marketplaces. But blockchain — the underlying framework that powers bitcoin — has been creating a lot of positive buzz. And not just for digital currencies — in fact, it’s being hailed as the second generation of the Internet, and industry pundits such as Don Tapscott believe it has the potential to revolutionize the world economy.
Essentially, it’s a tamperproof record of peer-to-peer transactions, which are anonymous, transparent and secure all at the same time. And it doesn’t require intermediaries (say, credit card companies) to authenticate or settle those transactions.
Some of the biggest names in banking and tech are working with The Linux Foundation to develop an open-sourced ledger. Banks and financial institutions are, not surprisingly, exploring the potential of blockchain, but it could be used in any number of industries — from healthcare to insurance — where there’s a need to share digital data.
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Sure, there are a number of issues that still need to get sorted — from privacy concerns to potential run-ins with aircraft — but there are literally hundreds of applications for drones beyond delivering pizza. They’re even being used to catch rhino poachers in Africa.
Some applications are obvious, such as those for military and police. But other early adopters will likely include oil and gas companies (for inspections), mining companies (for surveying and mapping), insurance companies (for documenting claims) and farmers (for data-driven agriculture). In fact, Juniper Research estimates the agricultural sector will account for 48 per cent of all commercial drone sales this year. Drones could also revolutionize search-and-rescue operations and disaster recovery.
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It doesn’t matter if you work for a small business or a multinational organization. Technology is evolving, and the emergence of new digital disruptors (and even a new Internet) could dramatically change your industry — and your job.
Now get three sure-fire ways to ignite your digital strategy using disruptive digital trends and technology.
About the Author
Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as CBCNews.ca, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.Follow on Twitter More Content by Vawn Himmelsbach