As technology becomes increasingly smarter, its potential to drastically change the way we live and conduct business grows. While there are too many exciting developments happening in the digital world to name in one blog, these five key trends promise to bring enormous benefits and opportunities over the next few years.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
One of the major digital trends that is transforming the way we do things both at home and at work is the growing ability of machines to learn and act intelligently. The future of artificial intelligence (AI) shows “limitless potential”, with new applications for personal, professional and business purposes being developed every day.
Machine learning - when computers are programmed to learn by discovering patterns and insights from data - is being increasingly deployed in a range of industries, with the global market expected to grow to US$8.81 billion by 2022. Along with applications for data analytics, data mining and pattern recognition, machine learning can power web search results, real-time ads and network intrusion detection.
With the advances in machine learning and natural language recognition, conversational AI is becoming a legitimate interface. Platforms will soon be available that can hear correctly, follow complex conversations and understand the nuances of emotion, all while improving over time. In the future, more and more businesses will interact with their customers via voice interfaces and chatbots, with their efficiency and 24/7 capability being key advantages.
- Robotic process automation
Most industries are embracing automation in some capacity, and as part of this broad shift, robotic process automation (RPA) is gaining traction. RPA technology is used to automate structured and repetitive business processes - such as interpreting applications, processing transactions, dealing with data, and replying to emails - freeing up human workers to concentrate on more complex, value-adding work. The technology essentially emulates the actions of a human, utilising the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just as a person would.
RPA allows organisations to automate at a fraction of the cost and time of more traditional IT solutions. It delivers profitability by enhancing productivity, streamlining workflow, improving accuracy across the business, and offering 24/7 availability. By eliminating mundane and repetitive tasks and allowing employees to focus on more meaningful, strategic work, RPA also enhances employee engagement and satisfaction.
A step above automation, hyper-automation refers to the application of advanced technologies to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. It brings together several components of process automation, building on RPA and integrating other tools and technologies - such as AI, machine learning, natural language processing, process mining and analytics - that amplify the ability to automate work. Hyper-automation is the next phase of digital transformation that businesses will need to undertake to remain competitive.
We are already seeing RPA moving beyond the automation of tasks and supporting more complex processes and long running workflows. Software robots now have the ability to interact with business users across core business processes, resulting in enhanced customer experience and satisfaction. Hyper-automation will leverage new technologies to accelerate the automation of the next generation of business processes, ensuring a future in which everything that can be automated most likely will be.
Research firm Gartner - which names hyper-automation as the top strategic technology trend for 2020 - forecasts that by 2024, organisations will be able to lower operational costs by 30% by combining hyper-automation technologies with redesigned operational processes.
- 5G network and faster WiFi
Going far beyond the benefits to mobile phone users, 5G will transform just about every industry on the planet. As well as delivering faster broadband speeds and more reliable mobile networks, the proliferation of 5G will drive advancements in smart city, smart vehicle, smart manufacturing and many other technologies.
Alongside 5G, the rise of WiFi 6 is enabling ultra-fast connectivity in the office or at home - allowing greater flexibility to workers. With the ability to extend faster data speeds to more devices than ever before, WiFi 6 will help accommodate growth in the number of connected devices on the average WiFi network - projected to increase from around 10 now to 50 over the next few years. It’s also enabling the increase in quality and volume of data consumed, ensuring a smoother experience for users.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) simply refers to the growing number of “smart” devices that are connected to the internet, and to each other. The number of IoT devices around the world is forecast to grow from 26 billion in 2019 to over 75 billion by 2025. Popular applications consumers are already using include connected lights in the home, smart fridges and wearable activity trackers, but IoT has much greater potential - enabling increased efficiency, improved customer service and better decision making for businesses as data is collected and analysed.
Digital trends and outsourcing
Offshore outsourcing is one industry that is already embracing these advances in technology, particularly the use of AI, machine learning and automation. With the customer of today demanding the availability of immediate, 24/7 online support, the use of applications such as natural language recognition and chatbots in contact centres is becoming a must for businesses to remain competitive. The rapid growth in internet speeds and availability, and the growing interconnectedness of devices, are also fuelling the offshoring industry, enabling virtually any task to be outsourced to almost anywhere in the world.
If you’d like to find out more about how your business can take advantage of the latest technology to improve customer service, increase efficiency and save costs, click here.