| by Tim Purcell
13th March 2020 | 7 min read
The top 5 trends set to impact the future of business and technology
The last decade has brought incredible advancements in the world of technology. From developments in Artificial Intelligence to the indispensability of smartphones, technology trends have played a significant role in the way that businesses operate.
Not only does the start of a new decade offer time to reflect, but it sparks food for thought surrounding what’s in store. Here are the 5 trends that I think will play the biggest impact in the future of technology and business.
With some infrastructure already in place, 5G is being rolled out across major UK cities. And whilst there is a focus around how consumers are going to be able to benefit from this development, for example with improvements in the speed at which people can stream videos, what’s lacking at the minute is a focus on how businesses will be able to benefit too.
In fact, 5G is set to bring to the business world a host of capabilities, first of all surrounding the connectivity amongst employees. Colleague-to-colleague video communications, employees having access to company data off-site, and businesses being able to ensure that everyone is always connected are set to pave the way for an increase in companies rolling out remote working opportunities. Particularly with the current climate and the rapid spread of COVID-19, there is an increasing need for businesses to continue to function in the event of employee self-isolation.
Not only this, but manufacturing businesses will likely encounter the greatest industry-specific benefits of 5G. With machinery being connected to the internet, reaction-times to machinery problems ought to be faster than ever. At present, there is typically a delay in the period in which manufacturers wait for information detailing problems with machine components to come through, which causes them to react to the problem after the event. Moving forward, they’ll be able to be a lot more proactive in terms of managing situations as issues will be instantaneously broadcasted.
Though 5G will be hugely beneficial, it’s important that it is rolled out across all locations, including rural and farming facilities, so that businesses everywhere can benefit. It’s also important not to ignore the potential disadvantage of such a huge network, as managing a vast volume of data could be difficult for businesses that do not have the data analysts in place to interpret such data. There will be an increasing need for data specialists throughout the UK, so that businesses are able to understand data and use it to drive decision making.
The notion of Agile Working is a concept that originated from the Agile Manifesto in software development. The Agile Manifesto has come about over probably the last 10-15 years and is set to continue to change the way in which businesses work throughout the coming decade.
The Agile Manifesto focuses on the fast response to change, collaboration, delivery of tangible solutions, and places individuals and teams ahead of processes and tooling. There's a definitive attempt at continuous improvement, which involves a constant reviewing of processes, interaction, and how software is built. The benefit of this format of working is that it allows teams to continue building on what they've previously built upon, and so is geared towards what an organisation is attempting to build rather than just focussing on the process itself. This is something we have consciously adopted at Datel, particularly within my R&D team. What we’ve found is that by allowing the team to be a little more autonomous in terms of what they're building and how that process works for them, the process of how software is built is a lot more scalable. Previously, it was quite difficult to scale a very rigid process, whereas the agile teams are now able to scale those more effectively and more quickly, reacting to changing circumstances and requirements as they happen.
I think the continuous improvement piece is a clear piece that businesses can adopt across other areas, not just in their software development department. Continuous improvement is very much focused on what teams and individuals have done previously, looking at what went well and what didn’t go so well, and thinking about how they can improve on it. So it’s absolutely something that can be introduced across different teams and across an entire business.
In today’s evolving business world, it’s difficult if not impossible to survive without investing in digital products. The reliance on ERP solutions that help to streamline business processes, increase efficiency, and improve employee productivity has significantly increased over the past couple of decades.
This significant increase in companies relying on digitalisation to optimise success is only going to continue to grow, with 48% of small to medium-sized businesses planning for digital transformation*. The rise in businesses adopting technological advancements is set to further catapult business ambitions, benefiting both businesses and their clients.
If you haven’t yet set out on your digital transformation journey, you can check out the products and services that Datel offers here.
Evolution of Digital AI Services
As with Digital Transformation, artificial intelligence is already playing a key role in helping businesses achieve their ambitions. In fact, 51% of small to medium-sized businesses say that AI already drives decisions*, and here at Datel, we're seeing a number of our customers taking the initiative to implement varying degrees of AI. Businesses are trying to solve challenges and problems and increase productivity and efficiency, and they're finding solutions to these problems by looking at the technologies that are available. Customers are using artificial intelligence to pull the analytics that can be used to spot the patterns and spot anomalies within the data, which is ultimately allowing them to make informed decisions to drive the business forward.
My prediction is that significantly more businesses are going to be relying on AI by 2030, however getting to the point in which businesses can effectively use it isn’t so straightforward. For businesses looking to get on board with the AI trend, they’re first going to need data. And the data can be generated in the form of sensors in equipment or intelligent devices, for example, but having that data and being able to interpret that data is going to be key. From there, it will be down to business leaders to ask the question of, what is it that they actually want to improve? Do they want to improve relationships with customers and suppliers? Do they want to improve their services? Only once they have identified that can they begin their journey into seeing how AI can actually improve their business.
Of course, when looking at what is set to affect business operations in the coming years, we can’t ignore Brexit. Businesses have had to make a number of considerations already following from Britain leaving the European Union, and plenty of businesses were actually quite forward-thinking prior to leaving. Businesses were building networks and building distribution centres to ensure that they were still in a position to be able to trade and to be able to ship their products across Europe, regardless of the outcome.
Nobody knows realistically how Brexit is going to affect anybody, and there's been limited guidance. Businesses are unsure as to how it's going to affect their individual systems, and so they're having to build a certain degree of flexibility around that. For example, trading rules change the application of duty and tax changes, and at Datel we've had to build that flexibility into our Fusion Carrier Connect software. Other businesses are having to consider how Brexit affects their own data transfer and their own business systems.
My Top Tip
With the trends surrounding technology and businesses set to continue changing the way in which we operate, my top tip would be to embrace it. There’s so much to look forward to and so many opportunities for businesses to excel – but only those who actively set out to embrace what’s available will benefit. If you don’t want to be left behind, consider investing in data specialists, adopting agile working, and beginning your digital transformation journey.
*Statistics announced at Sage Summit 2020
Business Futures episode 4
Datel's R&D Director, Tim Purcell, explores three of the trends set to shape technology and business in 2020.
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