Ripple effect: The new technologies disrupting the business world

If it’s a ‘safe space’ you’re looking for, the world of business is probably best avoided. Nothing here stays tranquil for long. However quickly a business model can be established, you can be reasonably certain that something will soon come along to turn it on its head.

At no point in history has that been more true than it is today. The technological revolution is churning out innovations and solutions at a dizzying rate. For some businesses, these new technologies deal a hammer blow (think Blockbuster, HMV, Nokia). For others, if they can adapt to the potential of they offer, it can revolutionise how they operate.

In this piece, we are going to look at some of the new technologies disrupting the business landscape and how they can transform the fortunes of early adopters.

Chatbots
Chatbots didn’t get off to the best of starts, granted. A common complaint amongst customers being, “I just want to speak to a real person!” as the primitive early versions misunderstood words, struggled with regional accents, and were limited in their ability to deal with wider ranges of customer requirements. Chatbots though, are getting much cleverer.
As we near 2020, the technology that chatbots sit on will develop exponentially in sophistication. Already, high-spec versions are able to understand customer tone, have a comprehensive linguistic understanding and capability, and can even predict high-value conversational paths to meet any number of objectives. As they can be quickly programmed with the necessary company information to competently resolve any customer query, the budget required to train staff is no longer needed. And, bar a nominal fee for maintenance and upgrades, chatbots work for free.
For organisations with large customer service departments, the cost-savings by implementing next-generation chatbots can be drastic.

Augmented and virtual reality
The use of augmented and virtual reality in business has been the subject of much discussion, but little in the way of action. This is a trend that looks set to change imminently. The companies that develop both technologies are currently locked in a frantic battle to be the first to provide businesses with tools that are user-friendly, functional, and affordable.
Application of augmented and virtual reality are wide-ranging. In the retail sector plans are in advanced stages for the introduction of augmented store shelves and products, allowing customers such experiences as seeing clothes modelled on a moving, virtual person. For those sectors specialising in industrial pursuits like maintenance, inspections and repairs, informational and instructional overlays can be applied to mechanical and electrical equipment so service workers can carry out key works without needing manuals or having to request second opinions. The banking sector also is moving rapidly towards using augmented reality to direct customers to key service areas and animate the names and specialty areas of branch staff.
These are just three sectors where augmented and virtual reality are on the cusp of completely transforming. As application of each becomes embedded, it will soon become clear what other industries could be revolutionised by the technology.

Drones
When drones burst onto the scene a few years ago, the rotor powered devices were seen as little more than a toy for grown-ups. Recently, their commercial potential has been eagerly exploited by a range of industries.
The construction industry, for example, is already using them to great effect for the inspection of otherwise hard to reach structures, eliminating the budget for manpower and, of course, the risk to human life. Surveillance companies are also realising their potential, deploying them to monitor areas with great flexibility and agility that would previously require security personnel, or even helicopters.
Drones are a comparatively old technology when looking at disruptive innovations, but this has largely been down to the regulations that govern their usage. As the legal system adapts to their prevalence, expect the buzz of little rotor blades to become ubiquitous. And it won’t just be your next door neighbour using them, it’ll be professionals of all persuasions.

Blockchain
This “new” technology is actually now ten years old. Blockchain was originally devised to facilitate the first and best-known of the cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin. However, in recent years, other ways the technology could be utilised have become apparent, and they are compelling to say the least.
Simply put, a block is a record of new transactions which could refer to the location of anything from cryptocurrency, to medical data, to voting records. Once a block is completed it’s added to the chain, creating a chain of blocks, which ingeniously was named a blockchain. A common metaphor to aid with the understanding of how blockchain works, is that it’s like a connected row of transparent safes. When you acquire a block, you deposit your currency and anyone can see what’s in it but you remain unidentifiable, and the only people who can credit or debit data are the ones you give a password to.
For businesses, this concept has the capacity to be transformative in a number of ways. The moving of finances is an obvious starting point. As funds can be transferred in real-time and without any requirement for an intermediary such as a bank, delays and charges are completely wiped out in an instant. The technology could also be used for interactive file-sharing. At present, if a document requires amending, it is sent to a third party who during the editing locks everyone else out, and there is an undeterminable delay while everyone else waits for them to finish. Blockchain allows an unlimited number of people to work on the same document, at the same time. How this could enhance efficiency needs little explanation.

Final thought
Assimilating business models with new technologies is a prerequisite for success in almost all cases. The issue is how much time organisations let pass before realising they need to upgrade. Often, once they’ve decided it’s time to make changes, they quickly realise their competitors have already done so, and now they must play catch-up.
The technologies we’ve explored here are by no means the only new and disruptive ones about to make a big impact, but they are some of the main ones. If you think any of these could enhance and improve the way your business operates, the time to start researching is right now.