Jag Randhawa, Technology Executive & Author, CAMICO
For decades, I was told by industry pundits: “if you want a seat at the table, stop talking geek and learn to speak business.” This was the advice imparted to technology leaders and it made sense. Now that I devoted more than a decade learning the business, I recently heard the same pundits advising business leaders: “if you want to stay in business, learn to speak geek.”
Indeed, technology has dramatically changed the way we live and do business. If the stock performance of the last decade is any proof, technology is no longer just part of the business strategy, but rather the driving force of successful businesses. Future belongs to those who figure out how to leverage technology to outperform the competition. If you don’t, the “geek next door” may put you out of business. Here are five technology megatrends to watch for:
Scientist and Science fiction writers have fantasized Artificial Intelligence (AI) long before computers could show a picture of cat, let alone recognize one. But recent advances in technology, combined with ample compute power, cheap storage, digitization of information and abundance of sensor data has turned that fantasy into reality. From Google search, which can parse through thousands of text documents in seconds, to Siri, who can understand your voice and reply with answers, to Watson that can detect cancer cells on your body, AI has very quickly grown to be an unstoppable force that is poised to change the world. Machines now have ears, eyes, sensors, and above all, a brain that can thank and self-learn. AI can find answers faster than a human can dial the number to call an expert. Just as you use computer to add millions of accounts receivable records today, in future, you will be using AI to make complex business decisions.
Internet of Things
Even the non-living things now have a brain. They can hear, see, touch, sense, and dare I say “understand” us. Sensors are becoming smaller and more accurate, computer chips are shrinking in size and becoming more powerful, batteries are becoming smaller and lasting longer, wireless communication is becoming pervasive and interconnected.
Future belongs to those who figure out how to leverage technology to outperform the competition
All of this means that you can obtain any kind of data at any time of the day. Nothing is out of reach anymore. Welcome to the new age of Internet of Things (IoT), where living and non-living things talk to each other. This has huge implications for businesses that use data for decision making. From detecting early signs of heart attack to self-driving cars, Internet of Things will transform the world as we know of today. Future belongs to those who figure out how to deploy and use these technologies to make real time decisions.
Blockchain is the newest and fastest growing disruptor on the block. Blockchain is challenging authorities that provide assurance, value and authenticity of anything of substance. Blockchain is a concept that uses distributed ledger framework to ensure integrity and authenticity of a record. The technology is so robust that it makes everything immutable and un-hackable. Bitcoin is the most noticeable application of this technology, but Blockchain can be used to store and validate almost anything in digital format – contracts, identity, assets, records and underlying infrastructure of information exchange. As more and more of things become digitized, more services will require digital authentication and digital exchange of value. Current forms of authentication, for example Notary, and value, for example US Dollar, are too slow and expensive for the emerging digital speed of digital life. Blockchain will bring as big of a change to the digital economy as internet brought to today’s economy – if not bigger.
Digital Business Models
It is often not the technology but rather the application of technology that changes and challenges the way we do business. Technology has changed the way we buy, serve and communicate. It has given rise to many new business models – Sharing Economy, Crowdsourcing, Everything-as- a-Service, Tech-Health, Services-on-the-Go, Virtual Reality, Digital Warehouse, Freemium, Micro Services, Data Aggregation and Digital Market Maker to name a few. Some of these business models have already eradicated many old business models, while others are chipping away at the market share of incumbents. As new generations of digital natives come to age, we will see a plethora of new business models emerge to life. As a business leader, you must be digital savvy and keep a constant pulse on how your future customers want to buy and be served.
Race to digitize everything has created new challenges around securing this new wealth of information. Digitizing information is easier than ever, but unfortunately, stealing that information is also easier than ever. Cybercrime is expected to rise to $6 trillion by 2021. Technology has not just enabled businesses to do more with less, but equally empowered hackers to steal information with ease. Even hacking is automated – hackers unleash a virus into the ether to scan for a known vulnerability and see who falls in the trap. Digital security will be a nightmare for everyone – every business, big or small, will be impacted by it. Digital security will make or break your business, so don’t take it lightly. In the digital world, security cannot be an afterthought but rather an integral component of every component, business process, and decision.
Technology is moving very fast and it constantly changing the world around us. As a savvy business leader, you must be very vigilant how technology will change the behavior and expectation of your current customer as well as your future digital-native customers. Don’t ignore these megatrends, your future depends on it.