Lately the Gartner Hype Cycle is becoming more like a ‘Hype Rollercoaster’, with developing technologies getting a second, third and fourth ride as they become less conceptual and more practical. As a result, 2020 is definitely the year when we can look at three key trends and know that even the least tech-savvy among us are familiar with them. But where will they take us this year?
Well planned automation is helpful and inevitable.
Widespread automation has been a slower journey than many anticipated, but we can only presume that this is because organisations have invested not just money, but serious amounts of time in forming a considered automation strategy in order to know how to begin. And well they might because as the costs decrease, it becomes more accessible and may ultimately affect every area of a business. In the first instance, automation should be applied to relieving employees of the burden of repetitive tasks. It can sound like a cliched argument, but this kind of workflow streamlining can bring real gains in productivity and job satisfaction. It also forms the bedrock of employee buy-in, which means that attention can then be turned to more challenging business processes that represent a far greater return on investment.
But there is no high drama here. As mentioned, these technologies have already been around the block a few times and have sound business cases attached to them that, while not groundbreaking, are highly business beneficial. For example, automation will allow the marketers of tomorrow to focus on customer satisfaction and simplify results tracking. In Human Resources, it could assist with intelligent process automation (which includes Artificial Intelligence) and deliver consistent services. And in finance functions we could look to developments in robotic process automation, cognitive computing and Internet of Things (IoT) to improve security and reduce administrative error.
The honey of the Hype Cycle, Artificial Intelligence, is growing up.
The quietly powerful side of AI
As the novelty wears off, the mists clear and we can start to work towards understanding what Artificial Intelligence can truly bring to the business table. We know that AI works best as an enhancement to the work of humans, but its point of difference truly lies in speed and accuracy – providing data-driven insights in a fraction of the time, and in turn speeding up human decision-making. But, like automation, the time has come for organisations to thoroughly question the value of AI and plan how it can play a part in their future. How it can ease pain points, simplify existing processes, minimise errors and, crucially, improve security.
Imagine a large enterprise, working with thousands of documents, each with differing levels of security, handled by different parts of the business. Fielding each one and ensuring they make it safely to the right people becomes a mammoth task. If mismanaged, it also has the potential to become a huge security risk. A simple AI-based document capture solution can recognise and classify documents, then route them to the right people. It’s not the sexiest use of AI out there, but its business value is understated and formidable.
Making sense of murky data
Finally, we will attempt to get a grip on the incredible amount of data we’re creating. Machine learning can turbo-charge analytics tools and make sense of data, identify issues and even recommend courses of action. But better still, analytics will play an even bigger role in helping businesses to understand the vast levels of information they hold on their servers. Over the next year, it’s likely that content analytics will become standard practice in most organisations, giving visibility of how much content is created, the nature of it and how it’s being used. There are a lot of objectives here: from trend analysis to information lifecycle management, but the big news lies in compliance. The power to evaluate data on this scale is key to making sure that it adheres to such regulations as GDPR. In the wake of some jaw-dropping fines in 2019, this is a huge priority for businesses.
No more silver bullets
2020 is the year of less buzzwords and more action where technology is concerned, and we look forward to a year of businesses looking at practical uses and considered implementations that create genuine value, true data security and a shift towards better efficiency and more meaningful tasks for employees.