Summary: As technology evolves, it plays an increasingly important role in the business world. More than ever, the modern CIO must stay ahead of the ever-changing technology curve, and understand how new technologies might affect their business. What technologies could have the biggest impact on the business world in the coming year? In this article, we explore a few more technologies that the modern CIO cannot afford to ignore.
We’re living in a time of rapid technological change. Those who succeed aren’t necessarily the largest companies. It’s those who adapt. It’s those who understand what’s coming and are willing to change.
CIOs and IT leaders should view this evolution as an amazing opportunity. Think about this for a second: Technology has never played a larger role in the business than it does today. Standing at the front lines of technology, CIOs and IT leaders have the opportunity to deliver more business value than ever before. Successful CIOs are those that recognize and adapt to these changing trends.
The big question: What tech trends should you be watching? Which technologies are poised to play the biggest role in the business world in the coming year? While the list could be longer, let’s explore 7 such technologies that CIOs and IT leaders can’t ignore in 2020.
1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
By now, you’re familiar with Business Process Automation (BPA). In short, BPA is the use of technology to transform and streamline manual processes. It’s used to automate mundane, repetitive tasks and reduce errors.
A growing trend, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) takes BPA up a notch. No, we’re not talking about physical robots. It’s a form of process automation that lets anyone define a set of instructions for a software bot to perform. Rather than create a set of rules (like with BPA), RPA software records human tasks and then performs those same tasks without human intervention. That’s just a short explanation, but here’s an article that goes into more detail.
Is RPA a perfect solution for every business? Of course not. But, it’s a technology that holds a lot of potential, and one that CIOs and IT leaders must monitor in the coming years.
“A major innovation in the workflow space is Robotic Process Automation (RPA),” says Dip Dhingani, co-founder and CEO of Creole Studios. “These are software bots that can log into applications, enter data and calculate it. They can even log out of the system after task completion. RPA bots can perform almost any task with accuracy and minimal chance of errors when compared to human performance.”
2. Artificial Intelligence
I hesitate to add AI to this list, as I believe it is currently overhyped. As explained in this article, it’s surrounded by hype, but most companies don’t have the resources to truly adopt AI.
That being said, AI cannot be ignored due to its amazing potential. It has the power to transform entire industries, and change the way we work. From marketing to IT to HR and everything in between, AI has the potential to impact all aspects of your organization.
What’s holding it back? For the last few years, AI has been hampered by a lack of skills/resources and general confusion. However, as AI skills become more prevalent and new AI-driven solutions are released, we’ll see it become accessible for even the smaller businesses.
“The value AI provides in our lives will grow,” says Joe Petro, the Executive Vice President and CTO at Nuance Communications, Inc. “It will make our difficult day-to-day engagements more and more intelligent, satisfying and natural. The Conversational AI technology that makes it possible for humans to have a natural dialog with computers will begin to understand how humans feel during an interaction and know when it is time to handoff to another human to take over. Computers will understand what you want or need, talk back to you to ask for relevant details and then take action on your intent. These developments will make interactions between humans and machines more effective and convenient and, as a result, we’ll see adoption continue to grow and more and more organizations gravitate toward AI-driven technology.”
3. Low-code/no-code development platforms
Citizen development. Low-code development. Self-service development. While this trend goes by many names, there’s no denying its growth. A recent Forrester survey found that 37% of developers are using or planning to use low-code products. They predict this number will climb over 50% by the middle of next year.
What is low-code? Low-code/no-code tools are development platforms that help developers create applications quickly, and let business users create their own solutions. In short, they let IT departments create solutions quickly while giving end-users the tools they need to build their own applications.
What’s driving the push towards low-code/no-code? What makes it a “can’t-ignore” technology in 2020? It’s driven by a couple of trends:
First, we’re living in the age of digitalization. Almost everything we do–on a personal and business level–is now digital. This digitalization trend will only increase in the coming years.
From a business standpoint, the demand for digital solutions is growing. The problem is, IT departments are struggling to keep up. They can’t keep pace with the increasing demand with their current resources.
Second, we’re living in an “instant” world. Users expect solutions right away. They’re not going to wait around weeks or months for solutions as they did in the past. Again, IT departments are struggling to meet these speed demands with their current resources. The demand for web and mobile apps has grown faster than IT’s ability to deliver.
Together, these trends are driving the push towards self-service development platforms. We can expect this trend to grow in the coming year.
4. UWB Technology
Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology gained overnight fame when Apple revealed that it’s included in their new iPhone 11.
What is UWB? I won’t get into everything in this article, but here’s an article that describes it in more detail. In short, it’s used for positioning and data transfers. It can transfer large amounts of data within a short-range, and provide precise location tracking and positioning. Some are calling it “bluetooth on steroids.”
Does this mean that it will transform business in the next year? Not at all. But, it holds too much potential to ignore. In 2020, make sure you keep a close eye on UWB technology and potential use cases for your business.
“It’ll be hard for businesses to ignore ultra-wideband (UWB) technologies in 2020–especially after Apple’s announcement of its new U1 UWB chip in the iPhone 11,” says Stephen Taylor, Director of Communications at WISER Systems, Inc. “UWB is a short-range radio technology with several particular advantages for positioning and location technologies. Because location-based tech is useful in so many ways–including safety, security, inventory, and asset tracking–we can expect to see quite a few new applications beyond consumer use with smartphones. Virtually every business in the world loses time and money because of misplaced assets, damaged materials, or issues with data security. These are the very kinds of problems UWB helps address. As with 5G, we’ll probably hear plenty of UWB buzz that misses the mark, but because UWB has been around for quite a while already, it has much more of a foundation to work from than most new wireless tech.”
5.5G (and its impact on your business)
By now, you’re probably familiar with the concept of 5G. It’s the fifth generation of cellular networking, slowly replacing 4G networks. Scheduled to ramp up deployment in 2020, 5G brings download speeds that are 20x faster than 4G networks.
But, 5G is just the tip of the iceberg. There is far more to it than faster internet. Once 5G is deployed, it will trigger a series of trends. For instance, we’ll see an uptick in:
IoT: Faster download speeds will drive an uptick in connected devices. If your business hasn’t started exploring the potential of IoT, now is the time. IoT is about to explode.
AR/VR: Augmented and Virtual reality has been around for a while now, but hasn’t really exploded yet. One reason for that: AR needs a lot of processing power, and current bandwidth restrictions limit the amount of cloud processing power that’s available. The emergence of 5G will remove this restriction.
Self-driving cars: 5G allows instant communication between autonomous vehicles, propelling the self-driving car revolution.
Remote work: With fast internet access from anywhere, remote work will continue to grow. Remote teams can communicate seamlessly via video chat from anywhere.
Even more video: If you thought video was overused now…just wait. 5G will eliminate bandwidth concerns from mobile video, driving its capabilities even more.
I could go on, as 5G will impact many different areas. The important takeaway: Don’t look at 5G as just faster mobile internet. Look at the far-reaching impact it will have on your business, and how you can take advantage of this technology.
6. Edge Computing
Edge computing has been an “emerging technology” for the last couple of years or so. What is it? In short, edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to the devices where it’s needed, rather than rely on cloud servers that can be hundreds or thousands of miles away. The big benefit: Speed. Edge computing dramatically reduces data latency issues, which is especially important for real-time applications. That’s just a short overview, but here’s a great article that describes it in more detail if you’d like to learn more.
The question is: Will it catch on? Why should you care about it in 2020?
Here are two big reasons: 5G and IoT. The growth of these two technologies will push Edge Computing into the mainstream in the very near future.
Why? As touched on above, 5G will drive the growth of connected devices. This influx of data will drive the need for edge computing. This article in NetworkWorld sums it up perfectly: “The influx of additional data – which will need to be processed in real-time – will drive the need for edge computing. Recognized by many as the next significant enterprise tech trend after cloud computing, edge computing refers to infrastructure that enables data processing as close to the source as possible. It allows for faster processing of data, reducing latency and improving customer experiences.”
7. Technologies that change the digital user experience
The digital user experience has gone through a transformation over the last decade. We’ve moved from mouse-based interfaces on a computer to touch-based interfaces on hand-held devices.
Now, we’re seeing another shift away from the two-dimensional screen to interfaces with more immersive experiences.
For instance, we’re in the early stages of the voice revolution. Voice interfaces are the next big thing, and it’s no secret. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are investing heavily in voice technology.
Additionally, technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been slowly gaining steam for the past few years. As device costs decrease and more enterprise-focused solutions emerge, I believe we’ll see more AR/VR in the business world over the next decade.
The challenge facing modern CIOs and IT leaders: What are you doing to prepare for these changing interfaces? I’m not saying that you should go out and create voice-based interfaces, or adopt AR/VR solutions. Their use-cases vary by company. However, these are technologies that are on the horizon, and cannot be ignored in the coming years.
These are just a few technologies that CIOs can’t ignore in the coming year, but the list could be much longer. Would you add anything to this list? Feel free to comment below!