Over the last few years, the ascendancy of technology to the forefront of business operations has been momentous From AI to virtual reality, technological developments are offering possibilities businesses could once only have dreamed of and transforming the daily experiences of modern professionals.

With driverless cars poised for a road revolution and chatbots becoming virtually indistinguishable from human communication, the dominance of business technology is only going to augment.

Artificial Intelligence

In September 2017, venture capital investment in AI reached a staggering $7.6 billon and some of the world’s leading experts have already forecasted when machines (through AI) will have the capability to replace human labour. From predictive analysis and real-time insights, AI is now able to adapt to new needs via feedback loops in a similar way to how continued education enables employees to develop new skills. Larger organisations are already utilising this technology to gear up operations, ramp up profits and increase efficiency.

On a reduced scale, small businesses are also able to benefit from AI through systems that automate or enhance business operations. From online bookings, automated emails and financial reporting, AI can have a significant impact on bottom line profits.

Responsible and accurate data

The acquisition of insights from data has never been stronger, particularly for online businesses who are now more informed than ever on consumer demands and needs. Companies are able to conduct real-time analysis of enormous volumes of information and use this to develop new or improved products better tailored to market conditions.

The growth of data access has however resulted in security risks. Tesco and Three, for instance, have recently suffered from data leaks and with the NHS hit by the WannaCry ransomware attack, consumers are increasingly concerned by how brands use their personal information. It is therefore important that businesses tackle cybersecurity challenges head on, something that has been further prompted by the introduction of GDPR in May.

Unified digital communications

The popularity of managing multiple activities in one platform – such as smart phones, computers and booking platforms – has grown exponentially. By collaborating business communication into central platforms, employees are able to engage with and respond to consumers and colleagues more effectively. This unified correspondence has also assisted in the development of flexible working for businesses, something that is predicted to be used by 70 per cent of workers by 2020.

Chatbots

In the past ten years, the average time a consumer spends on online customer service has leapt from 10 days to an impressive 10 minutes, largely due to automated response systems that cut online queues.

Using artificial intelligence to replicate human conversations, chat bots can understand how to sort through data and learn to make better decisions by interpreting a certain task and responding to them.

These bots are now becoming increasingly accessible and affordable for SMEs. By freeing time away from mundane tasks, chat bots give employees the chance to learn new skills and advance their business value, as well as offering closer connections with consumers. The technology therefore really does have the ability to reshape how companies do business and can give them an edge in a competitive landscape.

Extension of reality

Virtual and augmented reality are enabling immersive experiences that are pushing companies to think differently and create solutions that bypass the challenges of distance. The technology is removing the space between information and people, allowing businesses to tap into experiences from anywhere in the world.

Rather than seeing new realities, AR can extend or transform our realities and offer new emotive and educational experiences. This offers endless applications for marketing, something that brands are already putting to work. BMW, for instance, is offering an AI-driven experience that gives consumers the chance to get “inside” one of their cars and experience what it feels like to “drive” a BMW.

As most of us are visual learners, AR also possesses a unique capacity to train new generations of experts in industries as diverse as merchandising, manufacturing, piloting and even healthcare surgery. Could we even say surgery?

The article was written by Ingvar Gudmundsson, founder of Simplybook.me and voice recognition software IBOB.

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