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4 emerging technologies that will drive digital businesses

Clint Boulton | March 16, 2016
Deloitte Consulting says augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things, advanced analytics and blockchain software offer the most promise in 2016.

Tasked by their CEOs to use technology to better align the business with shifting customer preferences, CIOs across every industry are leveraging the now-standard social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies to modernize, stabilize and accelerate digital transformations. But those tools will get some company from augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, blockchain software and advanced analytics over the next 18 to 24 months.

These emerging technologies are fueling new products and services, changing the way businesses operate and interact with customers, Bill Briggs, CTO of Deloitte Consulting, told "Every company is a technology company at its core," says Briggs, who wrote the report, whose theme is “Innovating in a Digital Era.” "Technology is the most strategic asset. “

Internet of Things: Proceed with caution

Briggs says the real value of IoT, in which sensors attached to everyday machines send data to other machines, is that it enables companies to reimagine business processes by automating previously manual.

The IBM-owned Weather Company is incorporating weather data and algorithms into commercial applications. IBM is also building an analytics system to help Whirlpool predict when its machines are likely to fail. Other companies are reaching for low-hanging fruit. Intel, for example, has synched sensors with conference rooms, enabling employees to check their computers or smartphones to see when meeting spaces are free. To avoid being overwhelmed by the digital data from connected devices, Deloitte says that companies should think big, start small and then scale fast.

Just don't ask how to secure IoT, because its distributed nature markedly increases the threat surface for any organization that implements it. Sanjay Sarma, dean of digital learning at MIT, who has created a course to help professionals become familiar with IoT, says that enterprise implementations he has studied are shockingly bad. He says IoT requires a precise security architecture.

Augmented and virtual reality go to work

We've reached a tipping point, where "every high tech player is entering the market," says Briggs. Consumerization of technologies such as Facebook's Oculus Rift and Microsoft's HoloLens will push AR and VR into the enterprise, Briggs says. Field technicians for construction concern Black & Veatch wear geotagged helmets equipped with AR technology to pull a data overlay into his field of vision containing the technical and design data they need to perform a thorough equipment review on towers and other edifices.

Connecting field workers to data in this way is one of many potential uses global Black & Veatch envisions for AR technologies in the near future, says Dan Kieny, the company's CIO. "We are looking at AR applications that provide individual operators with data they need to perform specific construction and maintenance tasks remotely.”


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