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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.

However, AR/VR in the workplace requires some rethinking of design, as the “clicks and swipes that animate flat screen experiences are replaced by spoken words, gestures, grabbing or even a blink.” Of course, the change management associated with AR and VR can be significant, as it won't do to make employees nauseous as they attempt to navigate their way through virtual terrains and constructs.

Data is the new oil

Most businesses have yet to crack the code on harnessing their big data, which CEOs view as a potential game-changer and a foundational element for digital transformations. According to Deloitte’s 2015 CIO survey of 1,200 IT executives, analytics is both a top investment priority and the one that would deliver the greatest business impact. Starwood Hotels, for example, has created machine learning software to dynamically alter pricing based on weather, local events and several other factors. This is a big deal in an industry where vacant rooms are perishable goods.

However, few companies are currently making the investments in distributed data architecture, in-memory processing, machine learning, visualization and natural language processing required to harness data and analytics at scale. The main complaint is that while many data management teams are well along the path of employing descriptive analytics, they have not embraced predictive analytics to glean new insights.

Blockchain for all

Blockchain is the digital ledger underpinning cryptocurrency that enables digital data to be recorded and shared by communities. Banks such as BNY Mellon and the Royal Bank of Scotland are experimenting with the software for financial transactions. Briggs says blockchain will be leveraged in industries such as healthcare and insurance, perhaps serving as a secure chain of custody for electronic medical records and triggering a “new era of openness and portability.”

Blockchain may also be used to share digital media assets in media and entertainment, and to exchange business contracts. "It can reduce overhead costs when parties trade assets directly with each other, or quickly prove ownership or authorship of information,” Deloitte writes. Venture capitalists have pumped roughly $1 billion into 120 blockchain-related start-ups, $500 million of which was invested in the past calendar year alone.

Security is the tie that binds

Tying all of these emerging technologies together is cybersecurity, which must be baked in to each new technological implementation rather than bolted on after the fact. Connected devices need to be tracked, managed, and hardened to control access to underlying data and applications and to entitlement rights. ”Organizations will have to balance priorities to experiment in new areas and transform existing assets with the need to ensure solutions are secure, vigilant and resilient,” Briggs says.

 

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