With Theresa May expressing her love for wheat fields and Uber losing its London licence, 2017 saw a number of surprises across the board. The technology industry in particular underwent significant growth, with the widespread adoption of IoT devices, including the likes of Alexa, and virtual reality carving out more of a name for itself.
Now, with a new year in sight, it gives us a chance to consider what the most talked about trends of 2018 will be in the world of business.
It’s not the year for AI
Machine learning is a phrase we became all too familiar with last year. Despite previously being just characters from films, robotics are very much becoming a reality. And industry experts continue to champion this technology, with its potential for transforming the way businesses operate.
However, within the next ten years it has been predicted that four million jobs in the UK’s private sector will be carried out by robots. Enter the growing fear of artificial intelligence signalling the end for the human workforce as we know it.
Despite this hype, 2018 will not be the year artificial intelligence takes over. Organisations of all sizes are still waiting for the much anticipated benefits that this technology can bring, highlighted by the lack of AI use-cases in business environments.
Examples of AI that do exist are in the development and testing phases of research, as the technology is far from making a significant impact to the enterprise.
As a business leader is it easy to view AI as the answer to any problem that arises. But good things also come to those who don’t wait. 2018 should be the year in which CIOs take the lead and assess what can be done now to improve the efficiency of their organisation.
Whether this is investing in the public cloud or putting into place enterprise resource planning (ERP), business leaders can focus on improving their enterprise as it is.
Don’t forget about the back office
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will be the key trend to watch out for in the coming year as the C-Suite looks at how both the back and front office can be made more efficient.
By automating the repetitive, mundane tasks of the back office, the human workforce will be freed up to focus on the activities that bring real value to the business. As RPA technology continues to develop throughout 2018, businesses that deploy software automation to carry out the back office processes will gain a significant edge over their competitors.
In the year ahead, RPA will be the difference between those companies sauntering along and those companies really looking to scale up. Investing in robotics can help organisations meet their business goals.
By implementing automated systems that embody standardisation and control, businesses can bring flexibility and efficiency to the processes which can be carried out – giving organisations the power to grow.
In 2018 the market will demand for much faster wins and scalable robotics. Businesses need technology that is both agile and that meets corporate governance standards.
Enough of the buzzwords
Digital transformation, the internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) have been the phrases which have defined the tech industry in the past year. The continual use of these buzzwords have kept businesses under the pretence that this technology will provide the solution to any problem that their organisation may have.
Businesses processes can often seem overly complex. For example back office processes are made up of defined rules, steps and activities which often make them difficult for business leaders to understand what they consist of, and how best to manage them.
The hype around AI and IoT leads the C-suite to believe that this is the miracle that they have been waiting for, to gain a clear insight into these processes.
The phrase don’t run before you can walk applies all too well to the role of the CIO. But by implementing the available technology now, they will be in the perfect position to start using developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, only when they are fit for business purposes.
For organisations to be truly successful in the coming year they need to set realistic ambitions. Instead of focusing on the buzzwords, business leaders should put in place a one year plan designed to drive real value and create sustainability.
The successful CIO in 2018 will deliver shareholder value
What will the successful CIO of 2018 look like? Will it be the CIO that can successfully implement machine learning? Or will it be the CIO that is able to harness blockchain technology? In fact the successful CIO in 2018 will be the one who is able to get to grips with enterprise software robotics and deliver measurable shareholder value.
And by robotics, we aren’t talking about terminator inspired bots. Many CIOs think that to reduce the manual activity carried out by the human workforce, artificial intelligence is needed.
However, if we look at an example of software robotics in action, there is no intellect involved. A robot carrying out a financial process could simply be copying and pasting data into a spreadsheet, over and over again to maintain consistency.
Artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain will all have their time. But 2018 will not be the year that CIOs will be keeping the shareholders happy with the use of this technology.