From artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR), technology trends are expected to change the way companies do business in the coming years.
Frank Rizzo from KPMG says technology giants are shifting into different tech spaces to take advantage of emerging technologies. Rizzo says that three to four years ago the big things were cloud computing and mobile. Those trends in one way or another have been realised. If you own a smartphone, you are on the cloud.
The big things to watch out for in 2017 and in the next couple years, says Rizzo, are the internet of things, AI, virtual reality (VR) and AR, crypto currencies and robotics.
Internet of things
The internet of things refers to devices that connect to the web, such as Fitbit devices and Apple watches. Currently, there 4.9-billion connected devices worldwide. By 2020 the number is excepted to have jumped to 20-billion. For businesses these devices will create a huge amount of data that could be used. They could provide real-time data with sensors that can feed information on anything that affects a business’s operations.
Providing cognitive solutions that do the “thinking for you” could revolutionise the way companies do business. Rizzo says AI could allow businesses to make better decisions and AI would augment “what we do” rather than change it.
Marius van de Westhuizen from BusinessOptics says the internet of things and AI are ways to gather information from the past and in real time and apply it. This is where the business of tomorrow is heading.
Van de Westhuizen says that BusinessOptics has applied AI to a range of problems in an attempt to maximise the company’s operations. For example, it has used AI to assess the company’s exposure to currency risk. AI was able to monitor the relationship between all currencies the company was exposed to in real time. AI could then take all the currency data and the oil price, for example, and produce a likely outcome of how fluctuation in either would affect the company’s bottom line or financial results.
“There is a vast range of different outcomes but the [AI] is able to tell us that, allowing you to manage the risk or maximise the opportunity.”
AI could also be used to analyse a company’s data to see which of its customers are likely to renew a contract or switch to a competitor. Van de Westhuizen said that by looking at all the data a company has available — from complaint records, social media interactions or even payment data — it can create a model and predict a likely outcome of whether a customer will stay with a company or not.
AI could even advise a business on the which day to set its debit orders so that the majority of customers would be able to pay or have funds available. “There is a lot of insufficiency in the business of today and if we can use the current technologies available we can extract that extra percent, ” Van de Westhuizen says.
He says that if business is looking for a specific return on investment, the use of AI will help in that regard. But he says it needs to be combination of technology and normal business practice.
The blockchain could be the most disruptive development in finance in the coming years. The technology behind crypto currencies allows for an open distributed ledger. Rizzo says blockchain technology can be applied to the way auditing or accounting is done within a company.
This does not apply only to manufacturing but also to the financial sector. With robo-advice, customers can get financial advice from a robot rather than a person. Rizzo says robotic processes could replace manual processes like imputing data and getting rid of errors, resulting in standardisation.
VR and AR
The VR and AR markets are forecast to be worth $120bn by 2020, according to KPMG’s outlook. Rizzo says AR could change the way a chief financial officer functions or an engineer works because the technology can be applied to range of scenarios depicting models of problems in real time. An issue with oil flow in a pipeline, for example, could be depicted on an engineer’s desk. But he says AR is the least tangible of the five tehnologies.