Edited By: Doug Burson, Sphere Marketer & Analytics
Some of the tech advancements small business leaders should be prepared for and implementing in 2018 and over the next three years:
- Augmented reality (AR) is a direct or indirect live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, ideally across multiple sensory modalities.
- Everything from AR to machine learning and even adblocking will impinge on growth strategies
Deloitte’s recently released Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions, provide insights into key technology trends on the consumer and business front.
Inflight connectivity is taking off. In 2018, there will be less chance of losing connectivity with the travelling executive. One quarter of all passengers will be on planes fitted with in-flight connectivity (IFC), according to Deloitte. That represents an increase from 20 per cent in 2017. “In time it will be on virtually any plane.”
While some may come as no surprise, these developments could have a significant impact on enterprise strategies. Following are some trends of note:
- Machine learning will intensify for businesses across the board. Medium and large-sized enterprises surveyed say they will double the number of implementations and pilot projects using machine learning technology in 2018 – and then double it again by 2010. According to Duncan Stewart, director of TMT Research for Deloitte Canada, “Everybody will be doing machine learning in two years, so if you’re not doing it yet, you better start planning now. Those that won’t will have a new name: bankrupt.”
- Beyond investing in data scientists, organizations will also need to adapt to accommodate a machine learning reality, he adds. “Businesses should be looking at cleaning up their data. Improper data feeds won’t get you the results you want from machine learning.”
- Business processes also have to be aligned with the pace of machine learning. “Machine learning works faster at detecting patterns than traditional processes. You can’t be meeting every six weeks to review something that does calculations in six minutes. You need to harmonize things.”
Augmented reality will become more than a novelty. Deloitte estimates that more than a billion smartphone users will create AR content at least once in 2018, with at least 300 million doing so monthly…and tens of millions weekly.
This translates to about 15 million Canadians using AR. “The basis of the prediction is that half the people are those taking selfies and adding rabbit ears,” Stewart says. “But as things happening at the hardware and software levels improve, there will be interesting applications for businesses. Augmented reality in mobile phones is now so precise, it can allow architectural firms to size rooms accurately or a factory to instantly measure to see if a replacement part will fit. AR headsets will become important tools for field personnel doing assemblies.”
Mobile-only could be slowing down the remote worker. The study found that 23 per cent of all Canadians with internet access do not have cable, telco or fibre services in their homes. That means one in four people will get all their home data access from cellular mobile networks in 2018.
Why should this matter an executive? “The assumption is always that a CEO or employee has a big fat data pipe at home,” Stewart says. “But for those mobile-only users, they won’t have the same high speed access they have at work. Also, downloading big files will use up most of their data plans. This could apply to customers and suppliers as well.” He adds that up-and-coming developments in 5G could help to address that challenge.
Adblocking will shift marketing strategies. Deloitte predicts that six per cent of Canadians will be “adlergic,” blocking more than four or more traditional and digital channels. The number increases to 12 per cent for 18- to 34-year-olds. “From an executive perspective, that younger generation figure is interesting. If you’re an organization like ours with ads out there to attract new hires, they are less effective if they are being blocked.”
As audiences get more adept at blocking, enterprises must review their marketing and advertising strategies based on their target audiences. “Depending on who you want to reach, it might require a shift to forms of advertising that aren’t easily blocked or can’t be, such as social media apps, billboards or sponsorships.”
Inflight connectivity will take off. In 2018, there will be less chance of losing connectivity with the travelling executive. One quarter of all passengers will be on planes fitted with in-flight connectivity (IFC), according to Deloitte. That represents an increase from 20 per cent in 2017. “In time it will be on virtually any plane.”
As an executive himself, Stewart says wi-fi capabilities are often a deciding factor when booking a flight. “A wi-fi plan was definitely an incentive for me to fly on one carrier’s plane.”