No matter what size your business is, you’ll benefit from keeping up with changing technologies in your market. Read on to learn more about the top five tech trends that business experts expect to shape manufacturing, productivity and computation in the year ahead.
Artificial Intelligence Is Getting Smarter
Businesses in every market segment are captivated by the possibilities of AI; advances in smart computing have made it possible to free humans from repetitive tasks and reduce labor costs. For most businesses, many of the benefits are being realized through machine learning, a subtype of AI in which machines learn from data and experience as humans do.
With the ability to process immense amounts of specialized data, many helpful machine learning models have found application in diverse industries, including energy load forecasting, medical imaging, and finance. In each case, the model uses a given data grouping to develop new insights by recognizing patterns. Machine learning is already widely used in predictive market analysis, but its ability to learn from datasets that are too vast or disparate for humans to interpret has applications everywhere.
Voice Activation Is Changing Search
The adoption of voice-activated assistants from Apple, Google and Amazon has made voice search much more relevant for businesses seeking to improve or maintain their standing in search results. By the end of 2019, voice search was the second most common way for users to query a search engine. Machine learning is driving the success of voice search; improvements in a type of learning called natural language processing allow search engines to parse users’ requests more easily so they can understand the purpose of the search and return the best results.
Since most voice searches are simple but specific requests, your business’s website should optimize the availability of data like operating hours, contact information, and location so potential customers using voice search tools can find what they need quickly. If there’s other knowledge that you know customers routinely need before they’re willing to take action, make sure to include it in your optimization efforts.
3D Printing Is Getting More Useful
Only a few years ago, 3D printing was a novelty at best, but recent advancements in both materials and processes have made it an in-demand technology for numerous manufacturing businesses, with use cases in aerospace, consumer products, and medical devices. Geometrically complex parts that required months to produce and assemble can now be manufactured in a single step with 3D-printed designs. Some intricate designs that couldn’t even be realized with traditional manufacturing processes are now within reach. If your business involves, or is adjacent to, any type of manufacturing, keep a close eye on 3D printing applications for your own projects.
Cloud Computing Is Becoming Local
For most businesses, cloud services are key to getting things done. Tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams use several centralized servers to provide services, which users access remotely from their own devices. Since most services that can take advantage of centralized processing have now done so, interest has shifted to a more localized version of the cloud: edge computing. In this paradigm, some data is processed within the device, and some is delivered to smaller, better-distributed edge data centers, which reduces latency, decreases bandwidth consumption, and improves security.
Autonomous vehicles are an excellent application of edge computing; to make timely decisions about how to handle traffic flow, self-driving vehicles will have to make computations locally so they can be done with sufficient speed, but to improve the algorithms that they use, they’ll need to report data to a centralized network for processing. When cloud and edge computing work together, it’s called fog computing, which extends the cloud physically closer to each individual device. Any business that uses distributed processes will benefit from advances in edge and fog architecture.
Remote Work Is Remaking the Office
The opportunity to improve network speeds and distributed solutions couldn’t have come at a better time, as businesses realize that remote work is here to stay. Even if you’re eager to get back to business in person, many workers find that remote work has made them happier and more productive; combined with the savings to companies who are no longer leasing office space, it’s likely that remote work will continue to some extent in the post-COVID world. Since name-brand companies like Google and Twitter are offering remote work for their employees through 2021, making telework effective at your company will become a key recruitment tool for top performers who want a more flexible schedule. Make sure that your company is ready to offer an excellent remote experience with these tips.
Whether you can apply intriguing new technology now or later, it’s important to stay in the loop so you’ll be ready to take advantage of those prospects when it’s right for your business.