Traditional enterprise has a well-known reputation for being behind in terms of innovation, digital infrastructure and introducing new initiatives within its walls. With the important responsibility of maintaining vast amounts of clients and customers, valuing security over risk has often been priority. Corporations with staff well in its tens of thousands typically function at a slower rate, weighed down by its myriad of international divisions and complex, often fragmented interdepartmental communications.
But times are changing. In recent years the business world has witnessed more and more enterprise introspection; corporations turning inward to contemplate the vastness of its body and function, and its interaction with the outside world. Needless to say, some important lessons are being learned, with many seeking to break down the castle walls and reconnect with the real world.
Smaller enterprises hold the advantage of being weighty enough to plough money into new projects, while nimble enough to manoeuvre. With ever more competition from emerging tech start-ups and scale-ups, not to mention the kings of platform capitalism like Google, Facebook and Amazon, the old corporates are under increasing pressure to take technological risks. Let’s look at how enterprises can make the digital leap and incorporate tech into real business models.
1. Artificial Intelligence
The imminence of AI can’t be understated, and its impact in business and work will be colossal. As AI and Machine Learning begin working together to mine the vast data of enterprise, the fruits of this digital labour will soon be apparent to the more sceptical companies. Businesses hold enormous amounts of data, but that which can only be useful when contextualised and applied correctly.
“The percolation of AI and machine learning technologies into businesses still seems to be in its early stages, ranging over awareness that they need to collect data, to awareness that they already have a lot of data but are not making productive use of it, to rudimentary analyses of these data,” said Pradeep Ravikumar, Associate Professor, Machine Learning Department, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University (Source: Tech Republic).
AI will play a central role in Marketing and Sales, Customer Service Chatbots, as well as things like Infrastructural Security against cyber-attacks. Corporate biases are likely to desist when AI acts on information free from emotional influence or pre-existing prejudices. Yes, it is set to automate lots of jobs, such as data entry or other monotonous task work, but it will also create better working conditions for employees.
2. Augmented Reality
While still in its early stages, AR is on set to fundamentally shift how businesses function. It goes without saying that there’s money to be made in AR hardware such as Microsoft’s recently announced HoloLens glasses which are available to developers to purchase now, but not just as a consumer product. AR will be used by creatives to imagine their ideas, designers and developers to test product functionality, and by services & facilities departments for things like predictive maintenance.
There is money to be saved by imagining new information and products in relation to the real world, rather than immediately developing and launching them. AR is rapidly transforming how we experience reality as we know it. And soon, we’ll all be working with it.
3. Internet of Things
Smart TV’s, games consoles and digital tablets are all examples of connected devices that have infiltrated our daily lives, gadgets that we gladly spend small fortunes on. Enterprise is not ignoring the power of IoT, with new solutions and industry specific platforms making its way into board rooms and shipping ports alike.
Data streamed from security cameras and smart meeting room sensors serves to create company efficiency and business productivity. More connectivity will also allow workers to remain agile and flexible, being productive from wherever they are in the world. Leveraging the power of the Internet of Things is a sure way of keeping your business competitive and relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape.
This doesn’t seem quite as obvious as IoT within the context of enterprise, as it is the consumer sphere that wearables dominates. As smart watches, health trackers and smart fitness clothing are being developed and sold to the consumer, an interesting opportunity for employers arises. With millennials firmly implanted in the world of work and Generation Z soon to follow suit, approaches to people operations, recruitment and staff retention need to shift with the times.
Wearables will provide a keen incentive and offer a plethora of health benefits to staff. In turn this will create a more socialised workplace with a lower rate of absence, higher levels of productivity and greater emotional investment with the company itself, leading to greater employee loyalty.
5. Digital Integration
Not just connecting devices with cloud platforms, or on-premise systems to new applications, digital integration is the beating heart that enables the seamless flow of data through the various veins and arteries embodied by enterprise.
Traditional enterprise faces big challenges when making the digital transformation. Old, inefficient, often defunct on-premise systems must smoothly integrate its data with newer, superior platforms. The role of Integration Architect will be ever more relevant in building comprehensive, scalable solutions for enterprises to capitalise on the digital economy. Integration accelerators to some of the market leading enterprise resource planning and CRM systems like Salesforce and ServiceNow will grow in demand, as multinationals begin to realise the advantages of integrated systems for streamlined data.
Should tech startups feel the heat?
As we witness new emerging technologies, with business incubators nurturing the next generation of digital innovators, we reflect on how far old business has come in recent years. The question still remains for 2018, though. Will this be the year of enterprise innovation?