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What Does the Future of Information and IT Look Like in 2019?

Since the late 90s, when internet adoption became mainstream, there have been extensive predictions for the future of information and IT. While many seemed fantastical, space-aged imaginings of a technological culture gone too far, countless of these insights have indeed materialized, providing for a complex, yet connected world most could never have imagined. So, what does the future of information look like in 2019? Early Assumptions In a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, author Nicholas G. Carr asserted that IT had become ubiquitous and commoditized.1 In his view, IT was merely a standard cost of doing business that offered no competitive advantage. In the years to follow, cloud computing deconstructed the traditional IT organization and businesses have flocked to inexpensive or free applications as the cornerstone of their operations. With competitors mainly utilizing the same tools, the competitive advantage has shifted to other technologies. Microsoft’s Vision from 2009 Known for setting industry trends, Microsoft is often looked to when it comes to the future outlook of information and IT. In 2009, a short video called, “Microsoft Office Labs Vision 2019” was released to the public.2 The video displays a futuristic world of technology that, at the time, may have seemed improbable. Featuring innovations like touchscreen windows and a digital interactive newspaper, the video piqued the imagination and instilled within us a future of possibilities yet to come. While it’s true that a few of these technological predictions haven’t made it to the consumer level yet, today, many seem less far-fetched than they did when Microsoft recorded the video a decade ago. Accenture’s Vision from 2011 In 2011, Accenture distributed its vision of future tech, predicting technology to become fully incorporated with business trends and societal movements.3 Accenture maintained that the path of IT carries as much importance for businesses and governments as it does for technology sector. They also took note of strides in data analytics for business integration, cloud computing, a shift to service-centric architecture, social networks driving business intelligence, and a transformation in data privacy risk interpretation.  Accenture also noted that IT was no longer a supporting function, but rather a leading player in the lives of individuals.  While the report is a more matter-of-fact approach to the future of information and IT than Microsoft’s video, their intent to prophesize the direction of technology is similar. Much like Microsoft’s predictions, some of Accenture’s views have come to fruition or are still an anticipated possibility, while others have fallen short of the actual trajectory technological innovation has taken. Today’s Prediction for the Future of IT The vast array of emerging technologies today offers an even broader spectrum of possible expectations for the direction of information and IT. From automation and artificial intelligence to the internet of things4, modern technology solutions have the potential to impact every aspect of our lives and forever shape the path of society and technology. They represent significant gains in efficiency and productivity by empowering machines, and even networks of machines, to interact intelligently, learn, and improve on their own. Further, various new currencies are gaining a foothold in the economic world (i.e., cryptocurrency and blockchain technology), and their growing popularity could have a lasting impact on financial systems globally. Blockchain technology integrated into cryptocurrency promises to deliver added benefits in numerous industries as well. Regardless of what the future of information and IT holds, Omnivex is committed to staying current with both existing and emerging technologies, creating cutting-edge software to deliver complete digital communication network management solutions. Simply put, Omnivex enables organizations to improve the collection, distribution, and presentation of critical business information, ensuring our customers success.   1https://hbr.org/2003/05/it-doesnt-matter 2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwj2s_5e12U 3https://insuranceblog.accenture.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Accenture_Technology_Vision_2011.pdf 4https://www.business2community.com/tech-gadgets/5-future-technologies-will-mainstream-2020-02006302  

AI: The Future of Digital Communications

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is enabling organizations to create a more personalized digital communications experience. So it is no surprise that the AI market is predicted to rise to nearly $60 billion by 2025. AI Will Provide Tremendous Growth Opportunities AI permits machines to learn from data in much the same way as the brain does and then use that knowledge to perform human-like tasks. Artificial intelligence is being used in some very exciting applications, including speech recognition, natural language processing, complex problem solving, self-driving cars, and voice-enabled digital assistants. Communications and media companies have embraced AI. Accenture Strategy research found that 63 percent of telecommunications executives believe AI deployment will drive additional revenue and growth opportunities by accelerating the introduction of new products and services. That’s why 72 percent of these same executives identify AI as a Top Three business priority currently or within one year. It’s clear that AI is the future of digital communications. AI Allows Personalization and Segmentation on a Level Never Seen Before Customers expect a personalized experience with information that is relevant to them. AI helps deliver that experience by enabling organizations to draw on the vast amount of historical data they have about their customers and their behaviors, and then leverage that information to deliver the targeted content. For example, digital signage can detect that a shopper entering a store is a female with curly hair, then use AI to immediately show her store items that customers like her have purchased. Artificial Intelligence can also be used to predict other offer aspects, like the quoted price necessary to make a conversion or which clients are more prone to making more than one purchase. Machines have the power to process huge amounts of data, quickly decide which data is most relevant, and then segment appropriately. AI Will Transform Digital Communications AI solutions for digital communications are becoming even more customizable, allowing the optimization of digital advertising and algorithm-generated content. AI-based digital signage networks, for example, are able to determine which ad to display to a customer by interpreting audience engagement levels and then comparing it to historical customer behavior patterns and data. In fact, digital signage networks that use AI are proven to increase content relevancy by up to 50 percent. These intelligent tools keep evolving and are now reaching a point in which they are able to surpass human ability in certain respects. In fact, Gartner predicts that 85% of customer interactions will be managed by artificial intelligence by 2020. Artificial Intelligence can help improve the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of your digital communications, and the time to act is now.

How Digital Communications Can Transform HR

  Recent advancements in digital communications are disrupting a wide variety of industries, including varied sectors such as transportation, insurance, and hotels. It’s also disrupting departments such as human resources. Once viewed as a support function that delivered employee services, HR is now poised to take a leadership position in the digital transformation sweeping organizations worldwide by exploring new applications, platforms, and ways of working. HR Leaders are Driving Organizations to Embrace Digital Tools According to Deloitte, 56 percent of companies are redesigning their HR programs to leverage digital and mobile tools, including the 41 percent that is actively building mobile apps to deliver HR services. Additionally, 33 percent of HR teams are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide HR solutions to their employees. Over the past few years, many companies have replaced their legacy talent systems with integrated HR platforms. Now that the technology is in place, HR has turned its focus to people, work, and platforms to create a set of practices Deloitte calls “digital HR.” This strategy has become essential to creating the systems and tools necessary to attract and retain young, digitally savvy workers who are comfortable doing things themselves and sharing information in a transparent way. This new generation of workers demand an integrated, digital experience at work designed around teams, productivity, and empowerment–and it is up to HR to deliver it. Advanced Technology is Changing the Way HR Works Despite being in its infancy, AI has already been put to use in a number of innovative ways in HR. Chatbot services, such as Wade and Wendy, and Mya, help companies acquire talent, convert job seekers into applicants, and deliver informed recommendations throughout the recruiting process. The technology does this by showing prospective employees job opportunities in the company, helping with their career strategies, and allowing them to better understand the organization’s culture. Artificial Intelligence is also being utilized in software that helps human resource professionals write better job descriptions using advanced algorithms that identify and reduce gender, race, or generational bias. In addition, crowdsourcing is being used by Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth and LinkedIn Salary to collect anonymous data on millions of salaries to allow professionals to compare their compensation package against those offered in similar jobs by city, tenure, industry, and even company. Embracing Digital Communications Can Make Organizations More Efficient Leveraging digital tools empowers HR professionals to help employees do their jobs better. Digital signage can be used to enhance employee experience by providing real-time information about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), highlighting vision and organizational goals, and sharing relevant news, weather and safety information. Mobile apps enable organizations to stay connected with employees out in the field, providing them with relevant company information and access to necessary tools. Integrating digital signage and mobile apps also provides a new way to tackle onboarding, training and coaching across a dispersed workforce. The workplace of the future is digital – HR teams that embrace digital communications will transform their organization, enhancing employee experience and creating competitive advantage.

How Digital Maturity Is Affecting Core Operations and Value

Regardless of your organization’s industry, the digital space that you work in can be overwhelming. New digital trends, such as big data, AI, mobilty are having a huge impact on both organizations and individuals. To survive, organizations must employ digital communication strategies to meet the growing demands of the business to remain digitally mature. In other words, they must be able to adapt and compete in a constantly changing digital market. Every company can take steps to become more digitally mature. Doing so can create competitive advantages and increase market share. Adept Companies Adapt There are several key factors that help identify digital maturity. One aspect is the ability to adapt to increasingly digital environments. Another is implementing digital technologies to improve operations. According to a 2017 digital business global executive study and research project from Deloitte Insights, more than 70% of respondents from digitally maturing companies say their organizations are increasingly organized around cross-functional teams versus only 28% of companies in the early stages of digital development. Clearly, there is a fundamental shift occurring in the way work is getting done, a paradigm change that will significantly impact organizational behavior, corporate culture, talent recruitment, and leadership tactics. Working on Your Core Having too many competing priorities is often the biggest barrier to realizing digital maturity. However, to achieve it, companies must fully commit to making digital communications a core part of their organization and business strategy. Leaders must not only emphasize that digital maturity is of paramount importance, but use that focus to transform the business, customer experience, and the bottom line. To truly drive digital success, this level of commitment may require major changes within an organization, including reconfiguring of the leadership team, organizational structure, workforce, and culture. Monumental changes such as these are no longer optional, but essential to survive. The Long View Digitally mature companies take the long view. These companies utilize longer strategic planning horizons than those employed by less digitally mature organizations. In fact, almost 30% of these organizations plan five or more years in advance compared to only 13% of the least digitally mature organizations. In addition to the long view, their digital strategies focus on both technology and core business capabilities. They are also open to organizational change and flexibility, providing them the ability to adjust more fluidly in rapidly changing digital environments. It’s Time to Assess Your Digital Maturity The good news is, every company can take steps to become more digitally mature. Omnivex has created a digital maturity assessment tool to help organizations see where they stand, compare themselves to industry peers, and evaluate how they can improve. Curious about your own organization's level of digital maturity? Use the digital assessment tool to learn more.

Standalone Digital Communications Displays Are Dead

Networked Digital Communications Are the New Standard In the early days of digital signage, screens were often standalone displays that didn’t communicate with others. The technology had not matured enough to create a fully integrated system. This, coupled with high costs, kept digital displays standalone. However, much has changed since then. With the barriers of complex connections and high costs gone, digital communications can now leverage data to create relevant and personalized experiences. The standard is for all displays and content to live on one network. The days of the standalone displays are officially dead. In its place is the ability for any space to be connected digitally — from campuses to offices to hospitals to just about anywhere! Connected Networks Streamline Content Creation Before the connected era, standalone displays required every screen “owner” to create their own content. This was inefficient, time-consuming,  and the content often was inconsistent. It created communications silos, where each installation had no ability to talk to another or share content. A connected system changes all of that. With a network, you have the ability to create content on a standardized template and share it across all of your screens. For example, hospitals, which are often massive in size and have multiple buildings, can connect every display on one network. Each department or group at the facility may be responsible for their content, but the content is now cohesive and usable on any screen. Welcome screens may add some content from the food service screens announcing lunch specials. Or, the digital screens in the cafeteria, may run, with their menus, a reminder to complete a satisfaction survey or get a flu shot. Networking your digital signage improves branding, allows for messaging to be unified and creates opportunities for cross-promotion. It’s also a significant time saver, streamlining the process can equate to significant time and cost savings. IoT Devices’ Data Collection Influences Digital Communications A major part of any connected space today is IoT (Internet of Things) devices. These devices are capable of making things easier for those in the spaces. They can track and store data as well as communicate with digital displays. Consider a busy parking lot and real-time parking availability. Beacons fire off data identifying where parking is available and where it’s occupied. That data is then publishable via digital communications on screens at the entrance, through mobile apps or through colored lights over the spaces. From college campuses to airports to shopping centers, parking is frustrating and can take considerable time. With this data, drivers know more quickly where they kind find a parking spot. In terms of security and safety, sensor data could prompt real-time communications on every screen. Whether it is a fire alarm or other safety alarms triggered by disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes, a digital network can enable a quick systemwide message. If you’re struggling with a disconnected digital system, it’s time to move to the new standard. With Omnivex, our platform enables you to connect, distribute, present and automate messaging to any screen.    

Does Your Business Need the Internet of Things and Blockchain?

Experts expect global spending on information technology (IT) to reach an astounding $3.7 trillion in 2018. That’s 4.5 percent more than the spending in 2017, despite relative uncertainty in the market. Growth in several areas of IT will influence this spending, notably the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. With IT developing so quickly, it’s increasingly important that business decision makers make informed choices on how to move forward. Many businesses today are prioritizing customer satisfaction and connectivity. To move a company in this direction, executives must decide if IoT and blockchain can help their business. What is the Internet of Things? The “Internet of Things” may sound like just a trendy buzzword, but it’s a phenomenon that affects most people in the developed world in 2018. In short, the Internet of Things is the connectivity in everyday devices. Our society has created the Internet of Things by making coffee pots, refrigerators, thermostats, light bulbs, cars and many other objects into data transmitters and receivers.  Kevin Ashton is the expert credited with coining the term. He said, "If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss, and cost." What Will the Internet of Things Change? Many experts may answer this question with one word: everything. It’s true that the Internet of Things has the potential to impact most parts of daily life. However, the leading industries that this technology seeks to change right now are energy, healthcare, retail, logistics, and manufacturing. Whether it’s the step counter on your wrist or the quality-control device on your machinery, it will be nearly impossible to avoid the Internet of Things in coming years. Unlike other emerging technologies, such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things is not a disruptive innovation. Instead, it is an additive. Rather than demolishing existing businesses (like Uber did for taxis), the Internet of Things will drive savvy companies forward. How to Implement the Internet of Things The best ways to use the Internet of Things in any business will depend on the company’s needs, industry, and goals. Decision makers should consider where they can get the most value from the Internet of Things. For example, some businesses may want to use this technology to better understand its customers and their needs. Another company may understand their customers well enough but could use the Internet of Things to make daily operations more efficient. The chances are that if a business faces a fundamental problem, there is some way the Internet of Things can help.  What is Blockchain? The term “blockchain” is often used side-by-side with “bitcoin,” which means that sometimes people use these terms interchangeably. While they are interconnected, blockchain and bitcoin are separate terms. Before a professional can decide if blockchain is right for the business, it's essential to understand these two terms fully.  Bitcoin, in short, is a cyber-currency. Rather than spending a dollar or some other government-backed currency, bitcoin is entirely online. Blockchain is the type of technology that makes spending bitcoin possible. Blockchain technology creates a record that is not centralized, which is essential to bitcoin and what makes it different than sending a payment of currency over a system like PayPal. Furthermore, blockchain technology is as impossible to change as the serial number on a dollar bill. Is Blockchain Disruptive? Unlike the IoT, blockchain is an entirely disruptive innovation. In fact, turning the financial industry on its head is at the core of these technologies. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, many people went in search of an alternative to traditional banking. The answer was bitcoin. Bitcoin would need specialized technology to make it work, and blockchain was born from that need. Do All Businesses Need Blockchain? While blockchain may not become as ubiquitous as the IoT (at least, not as quickly), there are plenty of business applications for this emerging technology. Blockchain technology could help a business when it’s time for an audit. It can also help create better contracts and make supply chains more transparent. Whether your business decides to implement both of these technologies, one, or neither, it is essential for decision makers to stay on top of trends in technology. Things can change quickly in IT, and you can get left behind if you move too slowly.

Does Your Business Need Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence?

  If it feels like you hear something new about virtual reality (VR) or artificial intelligence (AI) every day, you’re not alone. Like other communications technology, these areas have grown at astonishing rates. In fact, the virtual and augmented reality market may be worth 215 billion U.S. dollars by 2021. Likewise, there have been 14 times more startups in the AI space than in 2000. As a business professional, all these new technologies can leave your head spinning. Each one promises to revolutionize your business, making it difficult to understand the real potential of each new technological release. Don’t let the speed and intensity of these industries turn you away from great communications technologies. Instead, take a moment to explore emerging VR, AR, and AI technologies to foster informed purchasing decisions. How do I decide which technologies to integrate? Right now, organizations are facing a massive wave of disruption. The technology on top right now could be gone as quickly as it came. While this tsunami of disruption is great for innovation, it can be dizzying for businesses. The best way to decide if a new technology is worth your investment is to consider if and how your employees or customers can use it. That may seem obvious, but it's not always simple to know exactly what you will use. Consider if the innovation adds real value or if it's just a shiny new object. Is it additive or disruptive? Virtual reality versus augmented reality Virtual Reality (VR) has gotten lots of media in recent years. The equipment creates an entirely immersive experience, which for some businesses is the whole appeal. For example, gaming companies are leveraging virtual reality to create a three dimensional environment that the player can interact with during the game. The high expense of VR may ultimately deter most organizations from using it and has definitely impacted it being widely adopted. Instead, its brother technology, Augmented Reality (AR), is better poised for widespread adoption and longevity. AR adds to the existing world rather than creating an immersive world. When we look at gaming again the widespread popularity of Pokemon Go illustrates how easy to use this technology is and how widespread its adoption can be. However AR isn’t just for gamers, there a multitude of business applications from wayfinding to digital signage to advertising. Experts expect augmented reality to grow faster than its fully immersive counterpart. In fact, some predict the AR market to increase from $2.35 billion in 2015 to $117 billion in 2022. Companies like Pepsi Max have used this technology effectively in their signage, and you can expect to see more AR in advertising soon.  What About Artificial Intelligence? If your mind automatically goes to the Terminator when you think of Artificial Intelligence (AI), think again. AI has been in homes and businesses across the globe for years. Every time someone asks their Amazon Echo a question, they utilize AI. In the business setting, AI has detected credit card fraud for years. However, while AI is an established part of our society, it is far from reaching its full potential. AI will allow businesses to collect more and better data. Perhaps that is why experts expect spending on artificial intelligence in retail to grow from $2 billion in 2018 to $7.3 in 2022. AI will also allow businesses to better understand their customers and offer better services. With many organizations focused on improving employee and customer experience, AI will become a valuable tool. The Bottom Line In this time of incredible change, it is essential to keep up with emerging technology. However, it's equally important not to get swept away in the wave of disruption and think about what is important to your business and what objectives you are trying to achieve.

AI is changing the face of retail

Digital signage is now a familiar site in the modern world. From displaying menus at restaurants to offering directions in a building, digital signage feeds audiences information in a dynamic way. But how much more valuable could this channel be? Can digital signage take on a role to personalize messages or respond to a situation in real-time? Yes, with help from artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. Deep learning turns data into action With deep learning, AI-driven platforms evaluate large data sets, typically in real-time, leading to specific reactions. AI engines have access to huge amounts of data. Data, of course, isn’t any good unless it’s analyzed and delivers an actionable response. AI is all about automation. It doesn’t necessarily “think” for you. What it can do is draw conclusions, find patterns, and react to situations. The platform can “learn” over time, making it an even more valuable tool. So, what does the future of digital signage look like with a boost from AI and deep learning? Personalized Experiences Every customer wants to feel important and have a personalized experience. AI and deep learning are the tools to make it happen. Soon, digital signage platforms, powered by AI and deep learning, could actually recognize customers. Just like local stores once new all their customers’ names, digital signage could act as a greeter. The digital signage could recognize the customer, say hello, and offer them useful information like what’s on sale, based on the customer’s buying history. While an amazing fete of technology, organizations should present this as a way to personalize what you see, becoming a benefit rather than a privacy concern. More Relevant Content In-store shopping continues to decline in favor of online shopping. That means retailers need to create experiences for shoppers who visit their brick-and-mortar stores. Many have already been using digital signage to promote sales or offer customers an in-depth look at products. AI can take it to the next level with personalization. A business already has historical data on its customers and their behaviors. Specific content is already created that plays at certain times or days. That’s the baseline that informs what content these consumers would most want to see. With AI and deep learning, there are two ways to improve content: either by putting the data in context or creating personalized ads. With context, the system is already starting with known behaviors like an increase in purchases of sunglasses after sunny days. But that won’t always be true. Deep learning adds context to this “rule” by capturing and integrating content that informs the situation. Maybe it’s a rainy day, which the system could detect with weather data. Or, the store knows, via sensors, that no one is shopping for sunglasses. This “learning” allows for the signage to “overrule” the sunglasses promo, switching it to items shoppers were currently looking at or umbrellas. Deep learning by an AI platform enables targeting down to the individual. If a male shopper enters a clothing store, digital signage could detect that the shopper was in his 20s wearing hiking boots. The system takes this information then reviews what items are in stock or on sale that men who purchased hiking boots also bought. What it finds could then be communicated to the shopper in almost real-time. Not only is the customer seeing personalized information it will prompt them to look at these items and make more purchases. How Will AI Evolve Your Digital Signage? The investment in digital signage and AI will continue to grow. The global digital signage market is expected to grow to $31.71 billion by 2025.[1] While the AI market is predicted to rise to nearly $60 billion by 2025.[2] These sectors are seeing phenomenal growth, which means organizations all over the world are investing in them to deliver better results. Intelligent digital communications are changing the world. Are you ready to be a part of it?   [1] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-digital-signage-market [2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/607716/worldwide-artificial-intelligence-market-revenues/  

Big data in digital communications

While data is at the heart of business and technology, many organizations are unable to leverage these silos of wealth and make them useful, due to challenges in consolidating and sharing the information. Unlocking the power of data is key to creating a competitive advantage. This infographic looks at the volume, velocity, variety, veracity, and value of the data in organizations today.

Why Unused Data is a Virtual Goldmine

Every single customer interaction, sales transaction, operations report, and similar electronic record represents a wealth of potentially valuable information that can be used to shape business strategy, enhance customer experience and improve product design. Yet, a vast portion of this data sits unused. The critical last mile between this information and its application represents a massive area of business opportunity. According to McKinsey and Company, typical business servers and enterprise data centers only deliver between five to fifteen percent of their maximum computing output on average over the course of a year.[1] Gartner also reports that nearly 97% of data sits unused in organizations. The time and effort to acquire, secure, and store this information is significant, but the underlying cost of failing to utilize this information is massive. The Uptime Institute found that nearly 30% of servers worldwide sit unused.[2] The cost of these 10 million comatose servers is somewhere in the neighborhood of nearly $30 billion dollars in idle capital. At the same time 90% of Dark Data, or unstructured data, is never analyzed. This means that valuable insights about products, internal development processes, and even website analytics that are collected during the course of normal business sit unused. The untapped value stored in customer information, log files, account information, and even legacy documents is astronomical. The chances that your organization is sitting on a pile of valuable and untapped data is extremely high. Dark data represents a chance for companies to leverage unique and important insights that can drive their business and allow them to compete with, or remain, market leaders. For example, mobile geo-location data can be used to coordinate logistics and user behavior in completely novel ways. The growth of organizations like Amazon are great case studies into just how much new data is being created in today’s technological society and businesses can leverage that data. People are leaving millions of footprints in metadata that can be mined for profitable strategies and the most successful organizations will be the ones who figure out how to do this the fastest. Omnivex allows businesses to easily collect, process, and deliver targeted real-time information across your organization on any screen – connecting people and data.             [1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2015/06/03/30-of-servers-are-sitting-comatose-according-to-research/#16090cc059c7   [2] https://uptimeinstitute.com/component/content/article/9-training-events/348-server-roundup-winners?Itemid=101  

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