The Top IT Trends Shaping Today’s Business
Modern businesses can reach consumers in a more direct and personal way than ever before, thanks to game-changing innovations in technology. The field of information technology, also known as IT, has transformed today’s business world. As a result, the way people find, buy, engage with, and consume products and services has also changed.
Technology allows companies to weave themselves into the fabric of people’s everyday lives, changing how they work and live. According to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2018 report, 84 percent of executives agree that our lives are more closely connected to technology than ever. This integration of technology and business allows companies to more effectively build trust with consumers, which in turn empowers business growth. Recent trends indicate that the demand from consumers for transparency, trust, and superb customer service is growing rapidly as well.
TOP IT TRENDS IN MODERN BUSINESS
Because businesses at all levels and across many industries increasingly rely on technology, IT professionals play a tremendous role in shaping business today. They will continue to play a critical role as they implement new technologies available through growing IT trends, such as augmented analytics, artificial intelligence, applied algorithms (which, simply put, are automated instructions), virtual reality, and more.
Experts predict these trends will become prevalent across numerous industries, including banking, finance, health care, and retail. IT professionals will need to leverage their skills and education to efficiently and effectively implement the following trends in modern business.
Augmented analytics is an emergent IT trend that is making a real impact on business. Although data analytics — the collection and analysis of digital information — is commonplace in modern business, generating insights from data is still a challenge. To understand how data can improve business operations, companies need analysis to gain context and more meaningful insight. As IT professionals monitor data captured from multiple sources, such as social media and the web, they discover crucial information with important implications, such as who is interacting with content and for how long. This helps businesses identify their customers and their overlapping interests. In the past, this has been a time-consuming and costly endeavor.
Augmented analytics automates and visualizes insights into consumer behavior and values through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, as explained in a Medium article. Augmented analytics makes the data that can be gleaned from clicks, likes, search queries, and more accessible, which is particularly useful to small businesses and businesses that may not be able to support a data analyst or scientist on staff. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, augmented analytics, with its largely automated methods, will be the dominant driver of new business and analytics purchases, including data science and machine learning platforms, as well as embedded analytics.
Through automation, augmented analytics provides businesses with a tool to clean and analyze analytics and convert data into actionable insights for organization leaders. Despite the ease and accessibility of automation, IT professionals still play a role in applying critical thinking and engineering ways to use the information to make necessary changes.
Virtual Reality in Training
Physical distance no longer presents a barrier to connection, innovation, and collaboration, thanks to virtual and augmented reality (AR). Virtual reality technology already allows consumers to experience some products up close and personal through wearable headsets that offer a fully immersive experience, even on their mobile devices. Meanwhile, augmented reality adds digital elements to live images, for instance in games such as Pokemon Go. Today some businesses like BMW provide customers an AR experience of its cars, allowing people to experience what it feels like to be inside one. This AR app allows consumers to see a BMW in front of them through their smartphone camera. They can walk around it and even look inside. The company hopes that through such an experience, potential buyers will become familiar with the vehicle and get excited about the customizable features it offers.
Virtual reality is also revolutionizing employee training across several industries, and it can provide a safe alternative to real-world training. VR training may be especially useful for those in high-risk roles, such as first responders and soldiers. In Chicago, virtual reality is being used in police officer training to help prepare officers for situations involving crisis intervention with the mentally ill. The Chicago Police Department already uses VR technology for other types of training, including viewing computer-generated scenarios through special headgear.
IT professionals will play a pivotal role in helping government and businesses to implement VR technology for employee training. They also will assist employees directly in learning the software and ensuring the technology and equipment is properly installed and managed.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an industry buzzword and a broad trend in the IT world. Given the versatility of AI, its application in modern business is far from overhyped. This machine-guided intelligence allows computer programs to carry out tasks that were once thought to require human intelligence to execute. Industries such as health care, manufacturing, and finance use AI technology to solve business problems and inform strategic decisions. But AI’s application reaches beyond data analytics.
AI is being implemented across several departments in corporations, such as in human resources to help with recruitment, head hunting, and employee retention. Marketing teams also use AI to improve personalization of their advertising by leveraging customer data and intelligent algorithms to reach consumers with relevant, personalized messaging. For example, in 2018, car company Lexus created an ad designed by IBM’s AI technology Watson. Watson analyzed 15 years worth of data from luxury car commercials and parsed out which elements elicited an emotional reaction from viewers. It then generated an ad that it expected to resonate with consumers based on that data.
IT professionals will help implement and manage AI technology across the enterprise. Skills such as leadership and critical thinking will be just as valuable as technical know-how to IT pros in today’s modern business environment.
Similar to AI, machine learning uses algorithms that allow computer programs to learn massive sets of data automatically, without being programmed. Businesses use machine learning to increase operational efficiency, cut costs, and improve customer experience. Several industries, including the insurance industry, are finding ways to apply machine learning to customer information in real-time to offer more relevant products. Using machine learning, many insurance companies also create predictive analytics in order to anticipate market changes, losses on their policies, and future costs.
But as data volumes continue to grow, organizations must keep pace. For example, companies can embed machine learning technology into the core of their business processes in order to analyze video, audio, image, and other customer data across the entire customer life cycle and improve their decision-making process as it relates to how to reach those customers with targeted advertising and relevant products.
For IT professionals, machine learning, similar to AI, will require an understanding of not only the technology but also how it relates to business practices such as marketing and design. In order to gain insights from data, IT experts must understand the needs and goals of the business so that they can apply strategic thinking to deliver information such as quantifiable leads and where processes can be executed more effectively. Collaboration is key as well, since IT pros will be working with all departments to implement and manage machine learning technology.
Increased Sophistication of Cyber Attacks
Cybersecurity involves much more than passwords, antivirus software, and encrypted networks. IT threats can completely compromise a business’s integrity and reputation, and a breach of private customer data can have devastating effects on a corporation’s bottom line. Recent cybersecurity breaches at businesses such as Equifax not only leaked sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses, but they seriously impacted consumer trust as well as the companies’ revenue and potential for growth. Hackers have become increasingly advanced, creating the need for an entire industry built around cybersecurity.
According to a recent study from Juniper Research, cyber criminals will steal an estimated 33 billion records in 2023 alone. The need for cybersecurity professionals is paramount. IT professionals must know how to tackle real-world cybersecurity challenges with IT solutions that are effective and meet the business’s unique security and privacy needs.
With the power of technology also comes the responsibility of wielding it in an ethical manner. Digital ethics encompasses the how of employing technology. Digital ethics also looks at what implementation means for businesses, customers, government, and society as a whole.
Gartner identified digital ethics as one of their top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019, further stressing the need for ethical monitoring of the application of digital technology. Digital ethics involves everything from digital monopolies, to the application of voice technology in marketing, to the collection and use of private and sensitive customer data.
IT professionals must remain on the forefront of the fight against unethical practices in technology, which might mean gaining consumer consent before collecting data over the web, examining the ways in which digital corporations influence politics, or considering the possibility of breaking up monopolies. Not only do IT pros implement enterprise technology that serves the needs of an organization, they also have an impact on the policies for the use and application of that technology. It is vital that IT pros are attuned to developments in both legislation and in digital culture, so they can meaningful incorporate ethical changes to the application of technology.
IT PROFESSIONALS SHAPE THE FUTURE OF IT TRENDS
The emergence of the above trends and the ever-changing technologies that drive them has transformed industries and changed the way consumers interact with brands. Behind all this technology, however, are the IT professionals whose expertise and industry experience are helping to shape modern business.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF IT IN BUSINESS
Interested in shaping the future of modern business through technology? A bachelor’s in Information Technology from the School of Professional Advancement at Tulane University can provide the skills, training, and industry expertise you need. Faculty with real-world, practical industry knowledge in information technology can prepare you for a career in a variety of IT fields, such as cybersecurity, data and systems analysis, and web and application development.
Accenture, Changing the Car Buying Game Accenture, Technology Vision 2018 Chicago Tribune, “Chicago Police Turn to Virtual Reality Technology to Train Officers in How to Deal with the Mentally Ill” Forbes, “The State of Machine Learning in Business Today” Gartner, Gartner Identifies Top 10 Data and Analytics Technology Trends for 2019 Juniper Research, Cybersecurity Breaches to Result in Over 146 Billion Records Being Stolen By 2023 Marketing AI Institute, “AI in Advertising” Medium, “Augmented Analytics Demystified” ReadWrite, “11 Artificial Intelligence Trends Every Business Must Know in 2019” TechRepublic, “The Largest Cybersecurity Breaches of the Past Three Years, and Their Effects on Companies” Tulane University, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology