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Every year, technology advancements continue to change business as we know it. The rate at which new devices, software and digital business methods are introduced continues to speed up into new frontiers. In addition, societal changes due to health, politics, geography and more have contributed to rethinking how business leadership has to perform today as opposed to just ten years ago. You don’t have to be an IT expert to realize the organizational possibilities of these opportunities, either.
I’ve been in the technology space for over 10 years. I have a passion for technology, having worked with big tech companies on a consulting basis, as well as with many smaller companies and in my own personal entrepreneurship journey.
Robots, IoT & Controlled Devices
Going forward from 2020, business leaders should be paying attention to a number of trends that will continue to develop and become a bigger and bigger part of business over the next few years. I believe the following trends are the future of work. I’ve seen that they are becoming increasingly incorporated into business as a means of standing apart from the competition and will likely become standard in the future with increased adoption.
Robots and controlled devices with the reach and ability to perform work that would require dozens of people are rapidly becoming available at lower costs. I believe drones are the most prolific example in 2020, especially when it comes to mapping, construction, transportation planning, surveying and monitoring.
Controlled devices can be programmed to do various tasks and produce a tremendous amount of data quickly. Ford Motor Company, for example, is planning to use Spot dog robots to map its physical facilities in up to 50% less time. This demonstrates that businesses that regularly need to cover distance and space for their offerings should consider looking into controlled devices.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
IoT devices control various functions that previously required a hands-on approach. Common applications include facilities system management (i.e., climate, security, automated functions) and delivery networks (for example, warehouse retrieval). A 2019 forecast from the International Data Corporation estimates the number of working IoT devices worldwide will be over 41.6 million by 2025.
Along similar lines, AI tools are rapidly replacing mundane, repetitive tasks. I believe the most visible of AI applications today is in help desk response, information reference and scripted response. AI bots are becoming commonplace to answer basic questions and provide information support for both employees and customers. This frees up personnel for more complex functions, utilizing labor resources more efficiently versus burning time on the same basic questions again and again.
Digital Platforms, Mobility & Enhanced Remote Communication
AI has also become functional in customer retention and follow-up marketing, particularly for situations in which the customer has already demonstrated a buying pattern to work with. Amazon, for example, is well-known for its use of AI to provide upselling and additional purchase suggestions. The AI industry is growing as companies catch on to its practical applications.
While not a new trend per se, the dynamics of today’s workplace, exacerbated by the current health crisis, require business leaders to rethink how they operate. The in-person business environment was once taken for granted, and it has been upended dramatically today. Business leaders are increasingly leveraging digital platforms to stay connected and maintain team productivity.
With the proliferation of smartphone mobile devices, easy-to-use online meeting tools, digital workspaces and cloud platforms, leaders and teams can work just about anywhere in 2020. This year pushed businesses large and small out of the traditional office, forcing people to explore remote work and the tools that make it possible.
From Microsoft Teams to Google Meet to Zoom, videoconferencing services saw their numbers increase to anywhere from 100 million to 300 million daily meeting participants by April 2020. Now that leaders’ eyes have been opened to the ease and convenience of remote work, I believe it’s unlikely business will just go back to the way things were. Teleconference tools, webinar resources and video streaming are all being flexed to their full potential, and it’s no surprise that tool providers are rapidly increasing the quality of their services to keep up with demand.
So, what better time than now to rethink product and service delivery on a digital platform as well? Even better, a robust number of tools are available that didn’t exist just five years ago to make the creation of a digital business platform easier and more intuitive without all the technical coding work previously required.
Cloud environments such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure make networks and computing power scalable, customizable and easy to create. From additional server capability to full-stack website support to additional computing power, cloud computing moves Fortune 500 network capability into the hands of startups and small businesses that could never have afforded the same capabilities via traditional hardware, software and personnel.
Dashboards & Data Visualization
All three of the major cloud providers I mentioned are seeing between 29–47% market growth as businesses take full advantage of low-cost scalability and tech resources online.
Data was once thought of as the domain of number-crunchers and analysts buried deep in spreadsheets; today, however, scheduled and automated dashboards are taking over. Many tools are available to crunch large amounts of data, visualize it in maps, graphs, or trend charts, and update it frequently for real-time analysis. I’ve seen that decision-makers are demanding more every day. Market experts estimate that data visualization market growth will be 9% from 2020 through 2025. Leaders who invest in data visualization won’t need to wait long to see the dividends pay off.
My current company leverages mobility, enhanced remote communication and cloud computing, and in our next iteration, we are incorporating our patented artificial intelligence features. So, while those are the trends most relevant to my work today, I’ll be paying attention to all of these tech trends and continuing to adapt in our rapidly changing business world.
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Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.