Andreas Cambitsis of BSC looks at five tech trends likely to be shaping the way we live and work in the coming year.
There are 1.3 million road deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization – mostly caused by human error.1 Autonomous cars have the potential to be 10 times safer than traditional cars, which can translate into a million lives saved, every year.
Tesla have made a huge investment into the autonomous driving space, and its car users are logging millions of miles every year. Theirs is a fleet that learns, which is also helping to increase knowledge and machine learning around the technology. The convergence of technology like electric vehicles, solar power and on-demand services will mean that cars become cheap to buy, cheap to run and commoditised. As an estimate, instead of a car being on the road 5% of its life, cars will be shared by several users and be driving 90% of the time.
Reducing the number of cars on the road will have massive implication for parking lots, urban planning, and the use of domestic space. Garages will become an extra room in our houses, once cars become commoditised and owning one becomes unnecessary. Personal finance, insurance and even organ donation will be affected, since much of the demand and supply of organs currently comes from car crashes.
Voice in the enterprise
Google Home, Siri, Alexa and other virtual assistants are known in the home space, but the use of such voice technology in the workplace is set to expand exponentially. Access to information is the killer application. Voice-activated assistants within organisations will enable better, more effective collection and sharing of information. An executive on his way to work will receive a customised, spoken briefing from his digital assistant daily on what is most relevant to him.
Voice is an excellent way to consume information in the business. Amazon is already pushing it through their Echo Enterprise technology as well as other business apps.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems will also be able to be updated by voice, live. Voice will enable businesses to keep their data current, and to minimise the friction involved in updating it.
Virtual Reality (VR)
At our business, we have found VR a vastly superior technology for workplace training. One client found that in one day of VR training, they achieved more than what they previously did in 10 days of traditional training. In the USA, Wal-Mart gave the technology a massive vote of confidence with the purchase of 17 000 Oculus Go headsets for staff training.
The immersive, interactive VR experience also has application in design, as well as sales and marketing. Property development can be toured in immersive virtual reality. Likewise, new cars can be road tested in virtual reality.
Designers, architects, town planners and the like are also now able to stress test their creations in VR before they ever go into production.
Humans are visual beings – 30% of our brains are geared to visual processing. So, anything that can take advantage of that biological computational power will help to make us more productive.
Building an identical digital version of a business and its systems allows business owners to optimise their entire value chain. Amazon already uses the technology to help meet its commitment to same-day delivery to its millions of customers.
The convergence of technologies like the Internet of Things, machine learning and VR is enabling highly accurate digital twinning and giving companies a better understanding of what process adjustments would work best in their operations – a critical competitive advantage.
The cloud in South Africa
The announcement by Microsoft that it will establish data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town means South African companies’ adoption of cloud computing and storage will expand exponentially.
The perceived data-security risks will be fewer, since data storage will be local, the management will be local, and there will be significantly lower latency, which will drive massive adoption.
Legacy on-site data-storage systems are often unable to interface with new technology applications. When a business has their data on the cloud, it becomes far easier for suppliers to work with that data and to take advantage of machine learning and other current digital technology. Broader adoption of cloud technology will allow firms to make better, far more productive use of their own information.