Emerging advanced technological solutions today have reached such a peak in growth that they are increasingly leaving deeper imprints on both the professional and personal lives of people around the world. According to CompTIA (via TechRepublic), among the emerging solutions offering the greatest business and financial opportunities in the digital age are artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G networks.
And while these technologies could transform the business landscape and how organizations operate on a daily basis, one of the most visible effects they have had so far is how they are (or could) transform the productivity and growth speed of corporations, small or large.
One of the bigger players in the business arena today is my industry, AI. McKinsey noted that AI solutions can automate many tasks performed by humans. And even though AI has long been feared (although wrongfully, in my opinion) as the “silent job killer,” threatening to take away human occupations, it offers the possibility to automate time-consuming activities (like greeting customers or cleaning, as McKinsey highlighted) and thus could allow human employees to shift their focus to more complex issues.
According to 2015 research by McKinsey, 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform could be automated with already demonstrated technologies. What does this translate into in terms of corporate productivity? The answer is more than promising: Beyond labor cost savings, I believe introducing automation could lead to increased output, smoother workflows, higher work quality and increased reliability.
These large-scale changes in business operation imply that human jobs will be redefined to require such skills as the ability to work with complex technology, while the leaders of companies that adopt AI will need to learn to manage, plan and lead newly automated organizations and ensure there is symbiosis between human employees and robots to reach the organization’s maximum potential for productivity.
Internet Of Things
The next technology I believe has the potential to revolutionize how businesses work is the so-called internet of things (IoT).
In fact, according to Forbes and Intel’s survey of 700 executives, 60% of enterprises are “leveraging their IoT infrastructure to catalyze new business opportunities,” while 36% are looking into new directions for growth. Further, 63% have already started to implement IoT in order to deliver new or improved services directly to customers. Moreover, according to this survey, more than 7 in 10 IoT leaders believe IoT helped them increase revenue by over 15%.
“IoT” is used to describe smart devices that communicate with the local network, the internet and each other. Today, many of the smart devices we use are major points of data collection and sharing. As a result, any device that surrounds us today — and there are so many in every corner — can be transformed into an IoT device designed to improve corporate productivity through applications ranging from smart home devices to IoT tracking systems that can increase efficiency. In fact, one IDC report predicts the IoT could generate $1.2 trillion worldwide by increasing overall organizational productivity.
The benefits to IoT implementation could be numerous. For one, the connectivity and data sharing opportunities can lead to efficient collaboration between employees, remote or near. By involving their AI technology in the IoT system, organizations can further digitize their business processes, coordinate operations and schedules, and allow the devices to learn from employees’ habits to streamline tasks and even automate the least engaging ones for greater productivity.
IoT implementation could be largely enabled and fortified by the next global digital advancement, the 5G connection.
The rise of 5G connections could translate into a significant increase of speed, responsiveness and reach, which means businesses would be able to further leverage the full capabilities of emerging technologies such as AI and IoT for greater productivity. 5G could enable corporations to more efficiently manage and analyze the vast amounts of data at hand.
5G networks will be much faster than today’s mobile technology. The new connection’s speed and communications response times (known as “latency”) could lead to increased production of innovative products and services. The economic and social benefits of 5G could also be astonishing; in addition to the unbelievably fast mobile device speeds, 5G networks could become the solid basis for the development of such disruptors as IoT, autonomous vehicles, remote health care, and augmented reality.
With all these technologies on the rise and the opportunities they offer close at hand, what would be the next steps in leveraging them — especially to improve productivity?
It’s simple: There’s no need to jump headfirst into the whirlpool of new technologies. Instead, I believe it’s better to focus on what your company has now that you can begin experimenting with. An example of simple yet effective AI and IoT integrations is customer data analysis and tracking based on customer activity on company websites, which could allow you to improve your marketing strategy and sales faster through behavioral analysis.
It is also important to understand the potential roadblocks to adopting such solutions. Take the development story of 5G networks. While the technology has viral popularity, the speed of the 5G wave sweeping across the corporate world is slower than I expected. In January 2020, PwC estimates that 10% of the U.S. population will have 5G network coverage, and 2% of devices will be 5G enabled, so the productivity benefits may not be immediate.
It is important to understand that the numerous benefits these technologies can offer will show results long-term and not necessarily in the immediate future. As a business solution, the implementation of 5G networks may be a wise long-term investment; however, for companies seeking short-term and fast productivity gains, a step-by-step approach with a focus on proven technologies such as AI and IoT could be a better fit.
With revolutionary technologies conquering the corporate world and opening new doors, it is important to delve into the new possibilities gradually by objectively assessing the existing resources, level of digitization, and future goals of the business. Only after you form a clear understanding of these factors can your implementation help ensure long-term success.