It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost to a new year (again!). We’re all starting to look toward what next year has in store— whether in personal development (the dreaded new year’s resolutions) or in our businesses.
As we push onward into the new year, the pace of business technology innovations isn’t slowing down. If anything, it’s moving faster than ever.
Here are a few of the biggest business tech developments and trends that will shape the next year — or even the next decade — of how business gets done.
Process Automation Grows in Importance and Capability
First, expect process automation to take off, even more than it already has.
Business process automation isn’t new; it’s been happening in physical manufacturing for decades, and the software variety is already happening in mid- to large-sized companies.
In fact, process automation is probably already a part of your routine in small, less noticeable ways. For example, when someone submits their email address on your website, you don’t have an army of writers manually composing and sending emails. You set up the emails and the structure, and your CRM or some other system works automatically.
Basic software automations aren’t complicated to set up, but they may not be that intelligent, either. Robotic process automation (RPA) uses scripts and bots to interact with systems and data in the same way that humans do: reading information in one place and “typing” it into a new field, for example. They work well in extremely predictable situations where there is no nuance or qualitative decision-making.
In the next five to 10 years, we expect this kind of human-like automation to grow exponentially in terms of capability, accuracy, and ease of implementation. I
Bottom line: if you’re not looking into how to automate business processes using new software and tech, now’s the time to start. (And we can help.)
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also already exist. We benefit from these technologies in the software products we use, but often only indirectly (such as the natural language processing that allows our virtual assistants to parse what we’re saying or typing or to transcribe our spoken word into written text).
But to be honest, much of the buzz around AI and ML today is simply that: marketing buzz.
Customized uses, where businesses use AI and machine learning technologies directly, are today limited to the largest tech-focused enterprises (with the deepest pockets). If you’re too small to hire several highly trained (and highly paid) data scientists, there just isn’t much you’re going to do on your own with these technologies today.
We expect that to change in the coming decade.
As the systems get smarter and the technology matures, a new generation of software tools will come into existence that “democratize” AI and ML, giving smaller and smaller businesses access to direct use of the tech.
It’s too early to tell what exactly that means for your business, but it’s a near certainty that AI will play an increasing role in your operations.
Cloud Maturity and Evolution
Every year, more and more businesses move more and more of their IT to the cloud. What once seemed out of reach for small businesses is now a part of everyday life: any tech tool you use from a web browser isn’t running on your PC; it’s running on a cloud server somewhere.
In the next five to 10 years, we’ll see continued adoption and evolution of cloud technology, leading to cloud maturity: where cloud is no longer new or trendy, but the new default or normal.
Expect businesses to continue evolving in their use of the cloud as well adopting hybrid, multi-cloud, private cloud, edge computing and more.
That’s it for this week, but there’s plenty more to cover about the future of business tech. Want even more future-focused business technology insights? Check out this month’s guide, which covers even more tech trends that will shape the next 10 years. [Download now]