The following is a guest article from Annette Jump, senior director analyst in Gartner's Technology and Service Provider (TSP) research practice.
The personal technology space is undergoing seismic change. Over the next 3-4 years, virtual assistants will dramatically change the nature of collaboration, smartphones will include AI-enabled computer vision, and immersive technologies will become core to business planning.
In fact, by 2023, digital business outcomes will drive 40% of investments in immersive technologies and enabling devices, up from less than 5% in 2018.
Unsurprisingly, these innovations present an enormous opportunity — and risk — for enterprises.
The positive impact is two-fold: Advances in personal technologies can drastically improve personal performances, while also driving highly profitable business initiatives.
To enable business transformation, technology leaders need to build outcome-oriented objectives that will show value and secure organizational buy-in, understand how solutions will be embedded into workflows, and always emphasize data security to respect regulations and foster trust.
If done correctly, these actions will help build a business that is future-proof and ready to disrupt instead of being disrupted.
Here are how the top five personal technologies will drive enterprise transformation and what businesses should plan for in their technology roadmaps.
1.Tech that can see: Computer vision
What it does: Computer vision (CV) is a process that involves capturing, processing and analyzing real-world images and video to allow machines to extract meaningful, contextual information from the physical world.
How it can support transformation: CV will create more engaging user experience on head-mounted displays or enable location-specific experiences or services in industries like retail and education.
Other uses include e-government initiatives for faster and more secure services, such as driver’s license renewals, benefits and taxes. For healthcare, CV could help those with reduced visual abilities.
Recommendation: It will be essential to remain up-to-date with the various dynamic regulations around personal data — regulatory noncompliance will be a significant risk.
Take advantage of existing CV frameworks or CV as a service APIs from leading technology providers such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Focus on specific use-cases or vertical solutions before adoption.
2. Reshape user interactions: Virtual assistant
What it does: Virtual assistants (VAs) will fundamentally reshape user interactions with devices to assist with things like providing traffic updates or sending upcoming travel alerts.
In the workplace, VAs can plan meetings from start to end, including booking the meeting room itself, organizing attendee schedules and taking meeting minutes. Additionally, they can improve user experience via voice analyst and sense a user’s emotions.
How it can support transformation: VA and virtual enterprise assistants (VEAs) will change how digital workers interact with their physical workspace and various applications, driving productivity and efficiency improvements, as well as creating more engaging user experiences and reducing friction.
Organizations are already deploying virtual employee assistants to aid in everyday IT tasks, such as password resets and other service-desk issues.
Recommendation: Leverage existing speech APIs from leading technology providers. IT leaders should think about synergies between VAs and immersive experiences that will drive integrated usage.
3. Experience a design before its prototyped: Immersive experiences
MR, meanwhile, extends both approaches to incorporate the physical world, leading to a convergence of these distinct technologies.
How it can support transformation: These technologies could aid in design and visualization for planning and designing physical properties, constructing simulations, and the visualization of buildings, cars and planes.
Additionally, it could be used in business-model reinvention — with visualization as a key part of the ideation process.
Remote field workers could perform maintenance and repair, locate specific goods, and give step-by-step visual instructions to workers in other locations. The most common improvement include analysis of big-volume data in an interactive, experiential format.
Recommendation: Be selective with immersive solution investments by starting small and working to the expectation that any ROI will take more than two years.
4. Print physical objects: 3D printing
What it does: 3D printing (3DP) is a family of additive manufacturing technologies that use a device to create physical objects from digital models. 3D-printed materials include plastics, ceramics, glass, composites, hybrids, biomaterials and metals.
Output often requires machining or other treatment to get the desired finish or precision.
How it can support transformation: 3DP is already a mainstream technology used for many purposes, including rapid manufacturing, prototyping, research and development, manufacturing of one-off or-low volume goods, and creation of architectural models.
The largest 3DP devices can "print" small buildings and low-end 3DP devices are affordable for schools and individual makers.
Recommendation: It will be critical to invest in personnel with strong 3D design skills or find partners that can offer those capabilities.
3DP enables some products to be produced locally for consumption, so consider if that will be appropriate for some production processes to better manage inventory.
5. Improve training and health monitoring: Wearables
What it does: Wearables include a variety of devices — from wristbands and smartwatches to head-mounted displays and smart clothing.
Sensors integrated into wearables can monitor biometrics like heart rate and body temperature. In some cases, they can even sense external environmental conditions such as the presence of dangerous gases.
How it can support transformation: Potential business opportunities include using wearables to train employees in order to reduce task completion times. Wearables will also allow for new ways of collaboration and customer engagement.
They have already been adopted by enterprises for a variety of different purposes, such as location tracking and multifactor authentication, as well as for simple interactions as an alternative to larger devices, like smartphones or tablets.
Recommendation: Be prepared to add support for new enterprise wearables within three to six months after their release. It will be vital to partner with existing enterprise providers to address security and privacy concerns.
As noted, maturity levels differ for each of these top five personal technologies, but their effect on digital business could be profound. Throughout the exploratory process, ensure the smart capabilities and limitations of your products or solutions are clear and transparent to all users.
Also, stay up to date with regional and country-specific privacy regulations to avoid legal ramifications.