The pace of technology innovation today is quickly closing the gap between the possible and impossible. Just think of what we’ve seen in the proverbial blink of an eye – groundbreaking achievements in artificial intelligence, vaccine technology, autonomous vehicles, robotics, renewable energy and more.
At PwC, we set out to better understand what technologies are reshaping industries and driving innovation to help guide not only our own, but our client’s tech strategies for years to come. We analyzed more than 250 technologies in our labs and uncovered the key essential eight technologies that we believe are poised to drive the most impact for organizations.
But identifying these technologies is only part of the challenge. Having a clear understanding of what these emerging technologies can offer, knowing the right timing to integrate them into your business, and successfully assessing where to direct investments will be crucial for both day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning. To make this easier for businesses, we put the essential eight into three categories: essential to expand, essential to evaluate and essential to experiment.
Essential to expand
These technologies are operating at scale today, and many companies are ready to expand their use even further.
The hype around generative AI is well-deserved – it’s powerful and easy to use, and it’s completely changing the way businesses operate. AI is no longer just for data scientists and software engineers. AI is readily available to anyone to create novel content by using simple text-based prompts.
Conventional AI is also making significant progress. Organizations are using machine learning and other AI technologies to boost productivity, personalize customer interactions and improve decision-making. AI’s potential to deliver value and solve problems keeps growing, both as a standalone technology and as an enabler of other essential technologies on our list.
Internet of things
IoT remains an essential part of our daily lives, with applications spanning from wearables and home appliances to enterprise-level functions, such as predictive maintenance and asset management. As companies realize the potential of IoT in providing data-driven insights and supporting various functions, we can anticipate a further increase in its adoption.
Essential to evaluate
These technologies are growing in applicable use cases but may not be a priority at most companies – yet. Given the recent and evolving advancements, it may be time for businesses to reevaluate their strategies.
Blockchain can offer transparent, cost-effective and secure solutions for storing, monitoring and transferring information and assets. With increasing adoption, advancements in interoperability, and regulatory clarity, blockchain is emerging as a key enabler of enterprise innovation and trust.
VR is already revolutionizing upskilling and workforce collaboration, leading to transforming experiences for employees, customers and companies’ daily operations. The integration of both AI and eye and facial tracking is poised to push the boundaries between digital and physical worlds even further.
Unlike VR, which creates immersive virtual worlds, AR expands upon and introduces novel ways to engage with the real world. AR often helps solve problems and enhance processes in areas such as maintenance, design visualization and customer engagement.
Advanced robotics integrates artificial intelligence into robots, enabling them to interact and respond to real-world situations. This allows the robots to collaborate seamlessly with humans, leading to increased productivity, improved workforce safety, quicker adaption to dynamic environments, and enhanced real-time decisions.
Essential to experiment
These technologies are highly promising and rapidly advancing. Although they’re not yet mainstream, it should be important to consider how your business or industry could be impacted.
This technology may soon enable computers and computer-based applications, such as AI, to perform far more complex operations. A “quantum internet” could offer more secure communications, while quantum computing’s processing capability has the potential to reimagine supply chain operations, financial portfolio management and cybersecurity.
Neuromorphic computing uses electronic circuits to mimic the functioning of the human brain, resulting in improved sustainability and cost savings through enhanced data processing and reduced power consumption. The related field of neural interfaces advances human-machine interaction by establishing a connection between our minds and machines, leading to advancements in areas like prosthetics and robotic limbs, helping to enhance people’s quality of life.
How companies can get started
The future holds so much promise for business leaders looking to harness the power of emerging technologies. And there are a few things each organization can do to prepare their workforce for the adoption of the essential eight technologies:
- Offer your employees upskilling opportunities: It’s important that leaders provide their people with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to succeed in the future of work. Carve out time and provide the necessary resources for employees to focus on training. To keep it fun, gamify where possible and offer rewards to keep employees engaged.
- Prioritize trusted and responsible use: Emerging technologies can bring positive impact to an organization, but only when deployed in a responsible way. This can be achieved by putting the right governance, standards and accountability in place, and in return, serving as a critical step in building trust with stakeholders.
- Understand the powerful convergence of these technologies: Convergence among these essential eight technologies is real — and accelerating. By blending these technologies, companies can establish a strong foundation for their future success, while also building a company culture that values continuous learning and innovation.
Above all, organizations should remember to keep the human element front and center. The future will be tech-powered but human-led – whether your organization is in a position to expand, evaluate or just experiment with the essential eight, it’s people who will drive technology forward.
This is a pivotal moment not just for business but for the world. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Scott Likens is Global AI and US Innovation Technology Leader at PwC. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE.
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