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Business Technology Strategy: Understanding Key Emerging Technologies ‘Revolutionizing Business’

For several decades, technology has served as a core component of any business strategy. Incredible as it might seem, the stakes today are higher than ever.

IBM previously listed its “top data security challenges.” They remain relevant for business leaders:

  • Explosive data growth: Data is growing at an exponential rate. Keeping up with new data sources across multiple environments creates new complexity at an unprecedented scale.
  • New privacy regulations: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) and more.
  • Operational complexity: Movement to cloud, big data technologies and disparate tools from multiple vendors intensifies complexity.
  • Cybersecurity skills shortage: Organizations are already dealing with a lack of skilled security professionals, and this gap is only expected to widen over the next several years.

Incredibly for businesses, today technology stakes are higher than ever

What can businesses do?

PWC has issued an important report titled “The Essential Eight.” It states: “Technology is evolving at breakneck speed and is already defining what’s next — for your company, competitors, and industry. Business leaders understand this: 76% of CEOs in our annual survey are worried about the speed of tech change. And 64% acknowledge that changes in the technology used to run their businesses will be disruptive over the next five years. Emerging technology should be a key part of every company’s corporate strategy. So why are so many hesitant to take action?”

The report outlines the eight “emerging technologies revolutionizing business.”

PWC writes: “These are the core technologies that matter most for business, across every industry, over the next three to five years. The Essential Eight are the technology building blocks that we believe every organization must consider. While each company’s strategy for how to best exploit — and combine — them will vary, these technologies will have a profound global impact on business, employees, and customers.”

“The Essential Eight” Business Technologies

  1. Artificial intelligence: “Software algorithms are automating complex decision-making tasks to mimic human thought processes and senses. Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a monolithic technology. A subset of AI, machine learning, focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to learn, understand, reason, plan, and act when blasted with data. Machine learning carries enormous potential for the creation of meaningful products and services”
  2. Augmented reality: “Augmented reality (AR) is a visual or audio “overlay” on the physical world that uses contextualized digital information to augment the user’s real-world view. AR-enabled smart glasses help warehouse workers fulfill orders with precision, airline manufacturers assemble planes, and electrical workers make repairs. We’re currently seeing mainstream gaming examples of AR that span age demographics.”
  3. Blockchain: “A blockchain is a distributed digital database or, more broadly, a digital ledger that uses software algorithms to record and confirm transactions with reliability and anonymity. The record of events is shared between many parties and information once entered cannot be altered. Blockchain has the potential to usher in an era of autonomous digital commerce.”
  4. Drones: “Depending on their design, drones vary greatly in their capacity. Some drones need wide spaces to take off, while quadcopters can squeeze into a column of space. Some drones are water based; others can operate and navigate autonomously (via remote control) or fully autonomously (via onboard computers). Companies are using drones for wide-ranging reasons, including surveillance, survey, sport, cinematography, and delivery.”
  5. Internet of Things: “The Internet of things (IoT) is a network of physical objects — devices, vehicles, appliances — embedded with sensors, software, network connectivity, and computing capability enabling them to collect, exchange, and act on data, usually without human intervention. The industrial IoT (IIoT) refers to its use in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, aka Industry 4.0. IIoT augments people, places, processes, and products with sensors to capture and analyze information across a value chain, advancing the goals of the organization.”
  6. Robotics: “Robots are machines with enhanced sensing, control, and intelligence used to automate, augment, or assist human activities. The robot market, which has grown for industrial applications, is poised for growth in a broad range of services applications. These applications are transforming manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations with new capabilities that address the challenges of working in changing, uncertain, and uncontrolled environments, such as alongside humans without being a danger to them.”
  7. Virtual Reality: “Virtual reality (VR) abolishes logistical limitations and makes anything possible. In a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment, viewers can use special equipment to interact with the simulation in realistic ways… VR has the potential to transform many other industries as well, especially in the realm of experiential training where workers can be put into hazardous, difficult, or cost-prohibitive situations without the intense risks associated with these activities in the real world.”
  8. 3-D Printing: “3-D printing creates three-dimensional objects based on digital models by layering or “printing” successive layers of materials. 3-D printing relies on innovative “inks,” including plastic, metal, and, more recently, glass and wood. 3-D printing has the potential to turn every large enterprise, small business and living room into a factory.”

“Traditional business models are in a state of flux”

IBM notes that “Traditional business models are in a state of flux. In the most recent IBM Institute for Business Value CEO study, 60 percent of CEOs surveyed said that more competition is coming from outside their industry, a 50 percent increase since 2013. As a result, many business leaders today find themselves on what feels like the horns of a dilemma. Do they digitally reinvent their businesses, or try to hang on as discrete parts of their organizations are ravaged by more nimble, technologically superior upstarts from outside their core industry?”

The tech and business leader outlines a strategy called “component business management,” stating that “Ultimately, employing CBM is not an end; it isa means to an end. It provides you and other business leaders with a significantly clearer view of critical Digital Reinvention opportunities.” These opportunities include:

  • “Strategy – helping to align business capabilities and investments to the overall strategy”
  • “Sourcing and partnering – identifying non-differentiated parts of the business that may be better served by a partner”
  • “Digital and technology – applying existing investments to support increased flexibility and responsiveness”
  • “Mergers and acquisitions – enabling a comprehensive, non-siloed view of organizational capabilities”
  • “Transformation initiatives – integrating business and technology transformation roadmaps with the overall strategy”