This year sees us on the brink of many exciting technological developments, so we’d thought we would take a look at some of the new technologies that could transform the way we live and do business in the coming months and years.
AI & machine learning
When we hear the term ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI), most of us will think of sci fi films and robots. But AI and machine learning are not just for the big screen anymore; they’re here for real, powered by advances in computing and the huge amount of data that’s now available. From devices like Alexa that listen and obey, to software that analyses the emotional tone of social media posts, the possible applications for both businesses and consumers are unlimited.
Businesses are using machine learning to gain a competitive advantage more and more nowadays. An example of how they get this advantage is analysing user behaviour to automatically learn about personal preferences and achieve greater personalisation. In the future, augmented reality could even allow consumers to try products before buying them, reducing the likelihood of returns, complaints and poor reviews.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to ‘smart’ products that connect to the internet, ranging from smart phones to fitness bands, cars to fridges. IHS has predicted that by 2020, there’ll be an astounding 75 billion connected devices.
As more and more products connect to the internet, there will be many implications for businesses. For example, IoT facilitates automation, which helps streamline business operations by reducing human workloads and creating more efficient workflows. An example from IHS is a fleet management system that automatically logs driving hours, saving the drivers from having to do it themselves manually.
Other business systems can also be integrated with smart devices, such as customer service management software, to offer a better user experience and customer service. The amount of data available is rapidly growing, thanks to devices that are gathering and sharing usage data without the user even realising. This means more insights into consumer behaviour will become available allowing improvements to be made to everything from product design and user experience to marketing campaigns.
5G is coming soon, and it will be a big leap forward in mobile network technology, being faster than 4G and carrying more benefits. 5G looks set to offer download speeds of over 1Gb/s and maybe even as much as 10Gb/s, compared to 4G which can currently deliver speed of 300Mbit/s. Faster speeds will enable even more advances in the Internet of Things as well as offer a better user experience.
We’ve been reading and hearing about driverless cars for a while, but we’re getting closer to this advanced technology being a reality. At the end of 2017, it was announced that self-parking cars will be legalised in the UK. And Teslas are already equipped with the technology needed to drive themselves, with the company boasting that their cars “have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver”.
You may have already heard that Google is also testing autonomous vehicles under the banner of Waymo, while lots more car manufacturers also have plans in the pipeline. Waymo’s vision really sums up the potential of this technology: “Imagine if everyone could get around easily and safely, without tired, drunk or distracted driving. Time spent commuting could be time spent doing what you want, as the car handles all of the driving.” Just think about the things you could be doing on the way to the office, answering emails or reading a novel perhaps.
Cyber security is set to be a hot topic again in 2018, following a year that saw lots of high-profile cyber attacks. Businesses of all sizes holding customer data need to be thinking about cyber security, it’s not just big companies at risk of attacks. Also, with the Internet of Things meaning that more and more devices are connecting to the internet, opportunities for cyber attacks are more widespread now than before. Machine learning is set to become increasingly important when it comes to detecting suspicious behaviour, in terms of automatically identifying and correcting weaknesses, although experts warn that this technology could be used by criminals to help their attacks.