With every day bringing a new array of digital developments, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the trends and identify those that are here to stay. While it’s true that much of what we see and hear regarding new tech rarely amounts to much more than hype, we’ve compiled four developments that are well worth a double take.
#1 - 5G
5G technology is expected to have an enormous impact on the world in the coming years. Compared to 4G, it’s up to 100 times faster and latency has decreased from 200 to a single millisecond (this is the time it takes to transmit data to a device like a smartphone). As more companies and infrastructures adapt to this new technology, users will experience faster and more immersive connections with their phones and cars. According to Qualcomm, 5G has the potential to create $13.1 trillion in goods and services by 2035.
While much of the focus is on consumer innovation, there could be even more opportunities available for business applications. The high speed and low latency make the development of so-called smart factories possible, connecting industrial equipment and allowing for advanced agricultural systems.
Forward-thinking companies like Deere are already acquiring communication frequencies to build their own private 5G networks (these are the wave lengths that carry data wirelessly). This will allow for the design of more flexible and automated facilities that are expected to lower costs, improve production quality, and give access to real-time analytics.
#2 - Edge Computing
The past decade has seen the megatrend of cloud computing, driven by aggressive investments from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba. Yet this is likely to pale in comparison to the emergence of edge computing, which involves the processing of huge amounts of data across billions of devices and sensors around the globe. Note that Gartner forecasts that 50% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of their data center by 2022.
Edge computing will usher in a myriad of use cases:
- Bots on the factory floor will efficiently manufacture complex products at scale.
- Retailers will offer highly personalized experiences, such as smart mirrors and shelves as well as zero-friction checkouts.
- Hospitals will use edge computing for remote surgery and patient monitoring.
For edge computing to fully come to fruition, a change of mindset will be necessary. Systems will have to be developed that are less resource intensive, such as with the use of computer power, and more operational in difficult environments (this could for oil rigs or dangerous mines). It will certainly take a great deal of effort to see through, but it will be well worth the wait.
#3 – RPA (Robotic Process Automation)
As platforms and point-solutions become increasingly popular, many companies have had challenges keeping up with the times. It’s common for employees to spend much time on repetitive, tedious processes like inputting data in a CRM or ERP system.
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) was created to help with some of these growing pains. This technology allows you to create software bots to automate processes. To do so, it leverages computer vision, integrations, and Artificial Intelligence.
The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred the adoption of RPA. Companies have had little choice but to automate systems to accommodate remote working, and solutions like RPA have made the adjustment all the easier. With a quick ROI (Return on Investment), it’s one of the fastest growing technologies with a huge market opportunity. IDC estimated its value at $17 billion in 2020 and expects it to rise to $30 billion within the next four years.
#4 – AI (Artificial Intelligence)
AI has been around since the 1950s. Throughout the past decade, however, the category has seen major breakthroughs. This is primarily due to the ubiquity of data and advances in new theories like deep learning and the development of sophisticated hardware systems like GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). This is a chip technology that allows for handling large amounts of data.
Without a doubt, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of AI. Yet it’s not just for tech giants. With the emergence of no-code and low-code systems, the fact is that AI is getting more accessible. There are even affordable off-the-shelf software tools created to help with many parts of an organization.
AI is set to be a game-changer as technology continues to allow for much better personalization, predictions, and automation.
Digital developments - Conclusion
The 4 digital developments discussed above are still very much in their early phases. That said, managers shouldn’t wait to start evaluating them. It’s critical to get experience with these technologies, which will be essential in thriving in the intensely competitive world of today and tomorrow.