A year is a long time in the digital world. Not only does technology continue to develop at a quicker rate than ever before, but these developments also have a significant impact on customers, changing their behaviour and expectations every day. It is therefore always important to keep one eye on the horizon for coming developments, and here is my rundown of what to expect in 2017:
For many people, the whole idea of Artificial Intelligence still feels a little bit science fiction. The world’s pioneering technology companies may be able to invest huge amounts of money into its development, but the idea that could it impact the operations of ‘ordinary’ businesses still seems far-fetched.
2017 will probably see a lot of statements from companies like IBM, Google and Facebook demonstrating the possibilities of AI and how it is evolving. Perhaps what will have the biggest impact this year, however, is not Artificial Intelligence but “Intelligence Augmented.”
Put simply, intelligence augmented is when people use automated technologies to deliver a bigger or better service. For example, we will start to see more and more customer service teams using AI to help their reps make quicker, better decisions and therefore deliver a higher level of service. Software is now available that analyses every customer interaction, question and outcome mathematically, allowing it to predict the most likely recommended action for the agent. Crucially, the end touchpoint for the customer is still a person, and they have the opportunity change that answer, but the application of AI means they are able to work quicker and smarter. This is something KLM are already using successfully.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two other areas of digital technology that are set to really take off in 2017. For many years people have seen virtual reality as a fun idea, and Facebook have recently demonstrated some really cool ideas, but generally people have struggled to find mainstream, practical applications for it.
I personally believe the impact of augmented reality will be a lot more significant than the impact of virtual reality in the near future. The explosion in popularity of Pokémon Go in 2016 was the start of something big, and it won’t be long before AR moves from something that is fun in games to be a powerful B2B and B2C tool. I recently saw a demonstration from Microsoft where a surgeon was using AR during an operation to gather more information and improve the efficiency and impact of the operation, and if medical professionals are able to do this, it is easy to imagine how other companies can adopt a similar approach for their products or services.
Blockchain technology has been one of the most significant technological developments of the last decade.