Technology has a habit of moving at a very fast pace and I have noticed over the last year that the speed of change appears to have picked up even more pace, making it challenging to see where the next innovation is coming from and what the next trend is going to be. However, having said that, I also believe we have reached a point where those of us who are working in digital technology are shaping the future more than we were able to in the past, and we are creating technology that fits our specific needs. I’m also seeing technology used for ‘disruption’, a business and marketing trend that seems to have strong traction.
I recently read a report by Accenture on “Technology for People” and it made many excellent points that chime with my own view of what is going on in digital trends. In particular, there are five trends that will undoubtedly dominate 2017 and beyond.
- Technology becomes more human
In the earlier phases of technological innovation, it might have felt to some as if the “robots’ were taking over. Now, humans are back in control of the technology, and we are not adapting to it, we are designing technology that fits human needs. As Accenture says: “We’re putting technology to work to disrupt ourselves.” So, human empowerment is a leading trend in today’s innovations.
- Shaping the world for us
AI innovations have enabled us to do our jobs better. We also use advanced communications to collaborate with colleagues around the globe, plus the Internet of Things and big data analytics have the potential to have positive impacts on society. Robots work with marine biologists on conservation strategies for example. We’re going to working alongside AI and robots in every discipline, but we’re doing it in a way that reshapes the world and our function in it. We’re “embedding humanity into the technology itself,” as the Accenture report says.
- More intelligent technology
Technology has become increasingly interactive. Touch screens and natural language processing gives users the impression that the technology is just like us. The latest technology is capable of image recognition and “deep learning algorithms that make it seem to think more like us.” We’ll also see technology emerge that knows how to align itself with the user’s wants and needs. This will have a positive impact on businesses that thrive on receiving customer feedback and will enable them to adapt products to client tastes.
- Transformed provider – customer relationships
Partnerships are going to be a feature of the more human digital world that empowers the end user. Providers will be transformed into partners and by helping people achieve their goals, “these new partnerships will cement a place in the next evolution of society.” The provider-partners who will do best are those who “amplify people on a global and individual level.” Healthcare is one area where this new relationship will enjoy great success and we’re already seeing firms like Philips and CVS Health deliver connected and comprehensive services to people through digital technology. They are partners with the people using them.
- Putting people first
Technology in whatever form, whether it is an app or a smart gadget, will increasingly interact with people and learn from those exchanges, then it will adapt its functions for future interactions, thus making the experience of using them all the more human. Aligning with people’s goals is another trend and businesses will need to adopt people’s goals as their own. The old business model of maximising the opportunity for profit will change its shape and be replaced by one where a business helps its customer achieve their goals and that creates a more enduring customer loyalty.
As you can see, the trends for 2017 are all focused on technology being shaped by humans to correspond more closely with the human thought process and on technology adapting to us, not the other way round. This will lead to a greater trust between people and technology and in my view, this is essential for both those of us who work in the field and for a better world.
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