At AppIt Ventures, we live on the bleeding edge of technology. Building custom software for clients around the globe and across industries, it’s not just our passion but our responsibility to stay on-trend, with an eye toward the future. As the marketplace shifts, we know that not every new technology or hot new trend will last for long, so we work with our clients to balance exciting technology with business practicality. For this year, we’ve pulled Gartner’s 2018 tech trends and sorted out the hype (for now, anyway) from the strategies worth exploring and implementing.
AI is a broad term used to describe the use of data to more efficiently achieve a goal or outcome. Its applications are boundless, and the technology is rapidly evolving. Where AI typically seeks to replace humans for certain tasks, Intelligence Augmentation, a subset of AI, looks to supplement and support humans’ efficiency by leveraging data and algorithms. Machine learning programs have been very successful so far, with businesses employing it to sift through volumes of data to find key connections and trends where humans are too overwhelmed to spot them. The benefits of AI are manifold: higher customer retention, higher productivity, increases in revenue, reduction in losses, and more. As investment funding and technology escalates, we may see costs decline as well.
AI and Internet of Things have driven the advancement of Edge Computing, requiring processing to occur on-site, inside the end-point device, processing data in real-time at the source of data collection. It is the agile counterpoint to the cloud’s raw power, and a return to distributed computing. Unlike the cloud, where lagtime in data transmission is an inevitable byproduct, edge computing allows processing to occur at the end-point, for real-time assessment and action. For businesses where security is a concern, edge computing will be a particularly attractive option for managing sensitive information in-house, instead of in the less-secure (if more flexible) cloud.
Blockchain is still an emerging technology that holds a lot of promise, but it hasn’t proven itself yet. Most people associate Blockchain with bitcoin, but the important technology is the Blockchain itself, with its potential to wipe out any number of trust-authenticating third-parties, such as banks and auditors. As such, Blockchain’s promise is intriguing, but still developing and it will have to disrupt the control of many trusted and long-standing institutions before it becomes a viable business strategy. That said, businesses whose foundation relies on transparency and trust (like some philanthropic endeavors) might find Blockchain conducive to their mission. For the rest of us, it’s hype–for now.
Customers don’t always directly tell you what they like or don’t like about your application, and reviews tend to skew toward the extremes. If you assume your customers fall on the bell curve, you’re missing feedback from some 80% of your customer base. Advanced analytics captures the path all your users take, filling in gaps in feedback and providing you with hard data to inform your business decisions. Businesses that use advanced analytics to better understand their customers will be able to design and develop enhancements to their application based on a complete picture of customer behavior, and stay relevant as user behavior changes.
Utilizing the granular data provided by advanced analytics, Event Driven programming optimizes preferred behaviors and eliminates features of the application that underperform or fail to enhance the customer experience. Event Driven strategy is mission-critical for those businesses employing customer-led design.
In its current state of development, both Augmented and Virtual Reality face significant impediments to widespread adoption. Virtual Reality, while more promising in terms of its ability to create a truly immersive experience, still struggles with bulky and obtrusive hardware. Augmented reality gives consumers and businesses more flexibility because of its independence from hardware, but it doesn’t provide the level of immersion that this trend describes, nor therefore the potential for disruption. Until both technologies can be seamlessly integrated into people’s daily routines, Immersive Experience is an impractical business strategy.
As technological developments intensify and companies race to keep up, security concerns multiply. The CARTA approach is an essential strategy for staying safe while competing. At its heart, CARTA is an advanced security strategy designed to eliminate one-time authentication of users’ access–to continuously monitor who has access to what, and under what circumstances, with security protocol constantly evolving to keep up with new loopholes and changing dynamics. With continuous reassessment, opportunities that once seemed too risky may now be viable opportunities for businesses.
As consumers habituate to devices such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, the demand for conversational platforms in business will continue to grow. Numerous opportunities exist to implement conversational platforms in customer service in particular, via chatbots and Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs). As business trends tend to follow consumer trends, thinking ahead about how to leverage this technology is important.
Driverless cars likely won’t be out until 2022 at the earliest, and while the technology is progressing, multiple roadblocks still need to be overcome, significantly affecting the viability of Intelligent Things. Security risks, legislative lags, and societal biases are all major issues that haven’t been meaningfully addressed, and can’t be addressed until we have live products in the market to test our assumptions. With high costs (due to this being an early emerging technology) and an immature marketplace, there isn’t much opportunity for strong ROI just yet.
Digital twins are essentially a digital copy of a physical asset, with inputs of real-world data from IoT sensors. For heavy industry and manufacturing, the benefits of exploring Digital Twins are potentially enormous, allowing businesses to test various hypotheses in a digitally duplicated environment–essentially risk free testing, using real-world data collected from the physical asset. Indeed, Gartner predicts nearly half of large industrial companies will be employing digital twins by 2021. With the increased availability of IoT technology, the cost to implement this strategy is falling, and the ability to make smarter, less costly decisions through testing will yield significant cost savings. Other industries will want to keep an eye on this technology, but the current level of development keeps it in the hype column for now.