Today, technology is embedded in everything we do, changing the ways we live and work. I could not help but laugh the other day, as my son struggled with his Grade 2 Math homework and the logical solution was to “Ask Alexa, she always has the answer.” The desire to extend this same experience into the business context therefore comes as no surprise.
While digital-era technology began as a differentiating advantage, we are now entering an era where technology is built into every single interaction, forcing companies to look for the next competitive edge to meet rising expectations.
Having said that, here are five important technology trends that will help business steer through this next phase of innovation.
Vuyiswa M’Cwabeni has over 15 years of documented success in corporate and product strategy, portfolio management and pricing, content creation, product marketing, and planning. Most recently, she led SAP’s product and innovation strategy.
In addition to her SAP commitments, Vuyiswa is a member of the Supervisory Board of Wirecard AG. A German unicorn with an ever-expanding footprint in the payment space. She is also an Advisor of the Afro-Deutsches Akademiker Netzwerk (ADAN). ADAN was founded by to positively change existing perception of Afro-Germans, Africans and Africa with a focus on entrepreneurship.
And lastly, she is active Angel Investor in the European market. Vuyiswa obtained her MBA with a specialization in Finance and Innovation Management at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany on top of her Bachelor in Business Administration from The Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada.
AI is the broader term for applications that involves machines performing human-like tasks. This includes machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning and has the potential to create trillions of dollars of value across the economy—if business leaders work to understand what AI can and cannot do.
The number-one thing that we know is the widespread potential applicability. Automotive, financial services, utilities, sales and marketing — in these and many other industries, businesses are already applying artificial intelligence to core business processes and to innovating products. However, we’re quite early in terms of adoption, so there’s a lot of runway to go.
One of the things facilitated by developments in AI is “autonomous things”. By using AI, these “things” – which can be anything from cars to vacuum cleaners – can fulfill certain tasks completely without human intervention.
As autonomous things become more common, we expect them to start working together, either independently of people or with human input. For example, if a drone examined a large field and found that it was ready for harvesting, it could dispatch an “autonomous harvester”.
These vehicles rely on vast amounts of software and data to train algorithms to ensure safety without humans having to intervene. Therefore, their future relies heavily on the continued research and development behind big data, AI and cloud technologies.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger that promises to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency and reducing friction across business ecosystems, potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times and improving cash flow.
Today, trust is placed in banks, clearinghouses, governments and many other institutions as central authorities, with the “single version of the truth” maintained securely in their databases.
This centralized trust model adds delays and friction costs (commissions, fees and the time value of money) to transactions. Blockchain provides an alternative trust mode and removes the need for central authorities in arbitrating transactions.
While pure blockchain models are still immature and can be difficult to scale, businesses should begin evaluating the technology, as blockchain will create $3.1T in business value by 2030 according to Gartner.
Few trends in IT have had a greater impact than the rise of cloud computing, radically reshaping how software is written, updated, and deployed. However, there is no single cloud solution that works for everybody. Public, private, and hybrid combinations all have their place, and within each of those groups, we see different platform options.
Amazon currently leads overall cloud computing but depending on the type of workload or other requirements, Microsoft’s Azure, Google’s GCP, IBM, Oracle, or SAP cloud offerings might all make sense. The days of companies buying into one system/cloud are gone. Different cloud offerings need to be able to work together. Luckily for customers, most of them already do.
In a world where new technologies pop up all the time, only the companies that put consumer needs first will win. When you think about ways companies try to understand their customers and/or employees, most tools show broad feedback but lack precision and speed. By the time decisions are made and products fixed, the world has moved on. A quintessential case of “too little, too late.”
Think about the last time you flew. The feedback airlines most frequently ask about: The condition of the plane, the boarding process, ticket purchase, seat location, timeliness of arrivals.
How do those insights connect to paint a broader picture? Can they analyze the data for commonalities of the most amazing passenger experiences down to a single flight attendant, gate agent, or process? In today’s world and thanks to the advent of new technologies, it’s possible.
Tech Trends that will surprise
Douglas Adams once said:
Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.
While all these technologies have become market-ready and first applications are in use, we have only just begun to discover their tremendous potential. And it’s likely we will get a few surprises with new paths opening up as we explore the potential. It’s the surprises that I look forward too … who doesn’t like a good surprise?
SAP is the world’s largest business software company. We serve some of the most amazing customers – and we always have exciting projects on the go. Our mission is to Run Simple, and we’re big on using our technological and business know-how to make the world a better place. Our people are innovators, leaders, and all around great human beings. They come from many different countries, speak many different languages – and bring their own unique experiences to the table. At SAP, you’ll flourish in an environment that encourages free expression, collaboration, individuality, and diversity. Gender equality is an important part of our mission – and we’re committed to having at least 28% women in leadership by 2020 and 30 percent in 2022.