Today, it seems as though technology is advancing at an accelerated — and often somewhat alarming — rate. From the imminent emergence of driverless cars to the almost ubiquitous prevalence of smart assistants, tech is seeping into our lives in a way we can barely avoid or escape.
In the business world, too, technology is having more and more influence than ever over operations, from the way we communicate to the tools that can help us rattle through our to-do lists. Of these technological innovations, however, which will have the biggest impact in the coming years? Which tech-based trends should every business owner be aware of right now?
In this post, we’ll explore 5 important technology trends that no business owner should overlook. Let’s get to it.
Large Language Models
By now, you’ve likely heard the fuss surrounding ChatGPT — the advanced language model introduced by the organisation OpenAI — with many business owners split between excitement at the tool’s impressive capabilities and fear at how quickly it might threaten to replace human jobs. Will ChatGPT (and many copycat tools such as the hastily-released Google Bard) render content writers redundant, for example, or remove the need for computer programmers?
Employing a deep learning technique called “transformer architecture” which allows them to parse massive amounts of data to provide answers to prompts or questions, language models like ChatGPT might threaten some jobs eventually, but for now their limitations must be understood: their responses are not always 100% accurate, they can lean on bias, and they’re as yet incapable of genuine creativity.
That said, there are use cases for large language models in business, as long as you’re not relying on them exclusively. For example, they can aid research, help with content creation, speed up idea generation, and write and debug computer code.
While there’s really no such thing as a completely serverless computing model (at least not yet), cloud computing enables businesses to build and run applications, storage systems, and databases without having to maintain the underlying infrastructure. As of 2022, 94% of businesses used cloud-based services in some shape or form, with at least half the world’s data expected to be stored in the cloud by 2025 (that’s 100 zettabytes, equivalent to 100 billion terabytes).
Through a network of interconnected virtual servers, ‘serverless’ computing can now be used for everything from hosting websites and applications — SaaS-based apps can be hosted on the cloud using Cloudways SaaS hosting solutions, for example — to file storage, data backup, software development, disaster recovery, and even social networking — Meta, for instance (the company formerly known as Facebook), combines its existing on-premises infrastructure with cloud services from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s foremost cloud provider.
For many businesses, a continuing challenge is streamlining processes in order to maximise efficiency, reduce costs, and eliminate the time spent on time-consuming and resource-intensive tasks. Of course, automation has been addressing these concerns for some time now — streamlining operations management, HR processes, customer services, inventory planning, analytics, and more besides — but the next level of automation (known as ‘hyperautomation’) will enhance these capabilities further.
Hyperautomation combines a number of AI-based functions to enable companies to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. These functions include robotic process automation (RPA) (allowing bots to take on complex yet repetitive tasks), machine learning (which allows a computer program to recognise patterns in data and make accurate predictions), and optical character recognition (OCR), which enables a machine to translate an image into text.
Research shows that the majority of humans are visual learners, meaning we find it easier to absorb and process information that’s presented to us using images rather than words or numbers. This highlights the growing importance of data visualisation: essentially, the process of presenting a set (or multiple sets) of data in a visual format. Whether it’s conveying financial information to company employees or communicating the results of a study to the general public, data visualisation can help boost engagement and buy-in from stakeholders.
A good example of data visualisation in action in our everyday lives is Wrapped, a popular feature of the music streaming giant Spotify. The platform analyses a year’s worth of data about your music listening habits — from your favourite genres to your most ‘active’ hours of the day — and presents it to you, the user, in a personalised and highly engaging visual format. It may seem a superficial use of the technology, but there are few better examples of just how effective data visualisation can be.
In an age where data security is an ongoing (and ever-increasing) concern — particularly when you consider how many devices, programs, and networks we’re accessing every day, in business and in our personal lives — there’s an increasing need for ensuring safe and secure access. And while techniques such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) — available through an access management solution such as OneLogin — can help to prevent unauthorised access, biometrics takes this a step further.
In essence, biometrics uses unique biological markers to identify and authenticate an individual attempting to access a device or a program. Machines can be taught to recognise facial features, fingerprints, and even voices, all of which are unique to the individual and impossible for a malicious ‘actor’ to replicate. For example, the NatWest mobile banking app employs facial recognition to ensure that only the account holder can access their account information and manage their finances using the app.
If you’re a business owner that strives to stay abreast of emerging technologies and developments in the business world, you should at least have a fairly solid understanding of these five tech-based trends, which will continue to have a significant influence on day-to-day business operations. From advanced chatbots to passwordless access management, these technologies will be increasingly key to business growth in the coming years.