Ten Tech Trends to Enhance Business and Innovation
Deloitte's fifth annual "Tech Trends 2014: Inspiring Disruption" report lists 10 emerging technologies for CIOs and other IT executives to consider in order to improve their B2B and B2C engagements, transform their business, and help their markets and industries evolve.
The report identifies key trends pinpointed by industry leaders and client executives, as well as research from partners and industry analysts. These trends provide ideas for executives to "provoke" and "harness" new technologies and to send their business toward new and inspired directions, says Bill Briggs, CTO and director of Deloitte Consulting LLP.
"The CIO is in a unique position because [he or she] can truly help understand potential and create a vision," he says. "It's not enough to create potential for tomorrow; you have to get there from the realities of today."
The report includes five disruptive technology trends—which offer businesses the opportunity to expand their IT capabilities, operations and business models—as well as five enabling technologies that are worth re-examining to identify methods of better use, development or delivery.
Cognitive analytics is on the disruptor list and looks at how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural-language processing (NLP) have an impact on facets ranging from the front end to the back end of the business. This disruptor is also relevant in real-time decision making, which can play out in determining the order in which calls are handled in a service field or how pre-authorizations and claims are managed in the health insurance industry.
Advanced analytics used in combination with AI and NLP can also help "solve some kinds of [business] questions" faster, according to Briggs, but they still require the human touch. For example, even though AI may be integrated into various business functions, it requires human direction and training to achieve success.
Building confidence and accuracy over time by using cognitive analytics and umbrella technologies increases the resources that are available for value-added and value-oriented efforts. Briggs says that more sectors are beginning to experiment with cognitive and real-time analytics and AI.
"There are things that you still need to do to get your house in order, but this is a compelling new development," he says.
Industrialized crowdsourcing is another trend on the disruptor list. Businesses can view this as an opportunity to access both generalized and specialized skill sets from groups within specific locations or without any geographic limitations. A company may choose to crowd source ideas and workflows for mobile applications, research and development, and product development, and find cost savings inherent in the process.
Crowdsourcing also introduces a new dynamic into marketing by allowing consumers to become involved in and direct the outcomes of marketing programs, as companies such as PepsiCo have discovered. And organizations like X-Prize are introducing competitions to drive innovation in artificial intelligence, digital health care and wearable health-monitoring devices by using crowdsourcing to solicit new ideas via incentivized—and substantial—cash prizes.
Other trends include the CIO as venture capitalist, digital engagement and wearable technology, which includes bracelets, glasses and smart badges. Examples of wearable technology include FitBit and Google Glass.
Another trend on the enabler side of the list is known as technical debt reversal. It proposes the idea that companies may be limiting themselves by maintaining legacy infrastructure at the cost of innovation, advancement and money. CIOs are encouraged to look at the concessions and constraints they have encountered in past projects and to consider more scalable solutions focused on innovation and growth for the future.
Other enablers include social activation, cloud orchestration, in-memory revolution and real-time dev-ops.
"All the trends are important," Briggs says, "so you have to pay attention to both disruptors and enablers. After all, what might be a disruptor for you could be an enabler for someone else."