New technologies are coming to market at an unprecedented rate, and CIOs are often faced with the daunting task of determining what's relevant to the business -- and what isn't. Today, how a company utilizes cutting-edge technology -- and how quickly -- can translate into a distinct advantage over the competition.
This essential guide examines four of the most talked about emerging technologies today: blockchain, robotic process automation, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D printing. It breaks down how these technologies are making a splash, why CIOs should pay attention to them and how CIOs can introduce cutting-edge tech into their IT strategies.
The stories presented in this guide delve into the fundamentals of these emerging technologies and shine a light on the ways in which leading CIOs are using cutting-edge tech to boost business performance -- from automating routine jobs and improving customer service to supporting a major digital transformation initiative.
A blockchain tracks the transactions of digital assets. It is, in other words, a digital ledger, and it remains current when new transactions -- in the form of a new block of encrypted data -- are added to the chain of transactions that have already taken place. Its best-known use case is bitcoin, the digital currency.
Why should CIOs care? A blockchain can be used to record the transaction of any digital asset -- from music to messages -- without the need for a central authority, which means it's fast. Copies of the digital ledger are stored across a network of computers and updated simultaneously, and transactions have to be approved algorithmically by a majority of the nodes in the network before they're added to the ledger, which means it's secure.
Financial institutions are already experimenting with the cutting-edge tech, but it's also popping up in other industries like shipping.
Before placing bets on blockchain tech, CIOs need to figure out where the technology applies and, perhaps more important, where it doesn't apply. Continue Reading
A new economic system will replace cash with loyalty program points or actions that are deemed valuable, and blockchain technology will be a big enabler. Continue Reading
How many nodes is enough for consensus? Who owns blockchain data? IBM blockchain expert Arvind Krishna addresses these and other burning blockchain issues in this SearchCIO tip. Continue Reading
Companies from a variety of industries have started exploring how blockchain governance strategies can reduce costs, speed interactions and expand business capabilities. Continue Reading
2Robotic process automation-
Welcome to a future of more efficient -- and smarter? -- co-workers
Robotic process automation (RPA), sometimes referred to as software that automates other software, performs high-volume, manual, repeatable tasks by mimicking how humans interact with computers. Intelligent or cognitive computing, RPA's more advanced relative, uses machine learning and artificial intelligence and other technologies to take on human tasks that call for problem-solving skills and judgment. Together, these cutting-edge technologies will provide significant efficiencies and savings for enterprises and radically change how work gets done.
Enterprises are embracing robotic process automation to automate rules-based, repetitive tasks in a cost-efficient manner. ROI depends on having the right RPA architecture. Continue Reading
RPA tech has evolved into sophisticated frameworks that automate IT tasks and rules-based processes. Now, RPA benefits are bridging the gap between legacy apps and modern ones. Continue Reading
3Augmented and virtual reality-
Gaming tech invades the enterprise
The convergence of the digital and physical worlds has already changed how businesses interact with customers. Augmented reality (AR), which virtually layers information over the physical environment, and virtual reality (VR), which immerses a user in a virtual world, will continue to blur the line between the two.
And, if the consultants are to be believed, the introduction of these cutting-edge technologies to the enterprise will happen quickly. "Unlike some of the previous revolutions we've seen, the cost of entry into augmented reality and virtual reality is significantly low. As a result, adoption has happened much more rapidly," said Steve Soechtig, a Deloitte Digital consultant.
Regardless of how the technology is used -- as a new digital experience for customers, as a way to build virtual prototypes for engineers or as a collaboration technology that replaces video conferencing for the business -- IT will have a role to play.
In this SearchCIO video, David Neitz explains how the hologram technology is changing how the engineering and construction firm get work done. Continue Reading
Low cost of entry, new use cases for the enterprise
On the face of it, 3D printing may appear to be the most niche technology of those examined in this guide to cutting-edge tech. But CIOs who overlook 3D printing as a potential disruptor are selling the application of this emerging technology short. As IT expert Harvey Koeppel puts it, "I believe the current descriptions vastly underestimate the potential impact of 3D printing technology and its inevitable derivative technologies."
Although the technology may not be owned by IT, CIOs can play a significant role in its success. For companies where use cases are clear, IT will be responsible for network access and data security. For companies still on the fence about investing in the technology, they'll need a leader to evaluate its usefulness -- a chance for CIOs to round up use cases (or the lack thereof) and recast the IT department as an innovative partner to the business.
Another point: Cost of entry is low. CIOs can introduce 3D printing technology to the business for as little as $10,000, according to one expert.
5Emerging tech terms-
How to talk the talk
You're familiar with these terms, but your business partners might not be. Here are simple, straightforward definitions that can help you describe these complex technologies in user-friendly language.