Artificial intelligence, wearables and disruptive technologies will dominate in 2014, Deloitte predicts

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

February 27, 2014 | 6 min read

Disruptive technologies will be the trends to watch of 2014 according to Deloitte’s Annual Tech Trends Report, with opportunities across the board to change how industries, business models and organisations operate.

Jodi Birkett, TMT partner at Deloitte in the north-west, said: “Disruptive technologies – from wearable devices to cognitive analytics to crowdsourcing – present unprecedented opportunities to reimagine how work gets done, how businesses grow, and how markets and industries evolve.

“But they also represent threats – and real challenges on how to balance experimentation for tomorrow with the realities of today. Our report examines how these trends are changing business as usual and opening the door for chief information officer's (CIO) to truly transform their business operations.

“One of the most interesting – and perhaps most talked about – trends this year is the CIO developing a venture capitalist mindset in relation to IT portfolio management. An effective portfolio view enables the CIO to continually evaluate and manage the strategic performance of each asset, project and vendor and communicate the value contribution in terms that business leaders understand.”

We take a look at the 10 key points from Deloitte in the report.

1.) CIO as venture capitalist

CIOs who want to help drive business growth and innovation will likely need to develop a new mindset and new capabilities. Like venture capitalists, CIOs should actively manage their IT portfolio in a way that drives enterprise value and evaluate portfolio performance in terms that business leaders understand - value, risk, and time horizon to reward. CIOs who can combine this with agility and align the desired talent can reshape how they run the business of IT.

2.) Cognitive analytics

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing have moved from experimental concepts to potential business disruptors - harnessing internet speed, cloud scale, and adaptive mastery of business processes to drive insights that aid real-time decision making.For organisations that want to improve their ability to sense and respond, cognitive analytics can be a powerful way to bridge the gap between the intent of big data and the reality of practical decision making.

3.) Industrialised crowdsourcing

Enterprise adoption of the power of the crowd allows specialised skills to be dynamically sourced from anyone, anywhere, and only as needed. Companies can use the collective knowledge of the masses to help with tasks from data entry and coding to advanced analytics and product development. The potential for disruptive impact on cost alone likely makes early experimentation worthwhile, but there are also broader implications for innovation in the enterprise.

4.) Digital engagement

Content and assets are increasingly digital - with audio, video, and interactive elements - and consumed across multiple channels, including not only mobile, social, and the web, but also in store, on location, or in the field. Whether for customers, employees, or business partners, digital engagement is about creating a consistent, compelling, and contextual way of personalising, delivering, and sometimes even monetising the user’s overall experience - especially as core products become augmented or replaced with digital intellectual property.

5.) Wearables

Wearable computing has many forms, such as glasses, watches, smart badges, and bracelets. The potential is tremendous: hands-free, heads-up technology to reshape how work gets done, how decisions are made, and how you engage with employees, customers, and partners.Wearables introduce technology to previously prohibitive scenarios where safety, logistics, or even etiquette constrained the usage of laptops and smartphones. While consumer wearables are in the spotlight today, we expect business to drive acceptance and transformative use cases.

6.) Technical debt reversal

Technical debt is a way to understand the cost of code quality and the impacts of architectural issues. For IT to help drive business innovation, managing technical debt is a necessity. Legacy systems can constrain growth because they may not scale; because they may not be extensible into new scenarios like mobile or analytics; or because underlying performance and reliability issues may put the business at risk.But it’s not just legacy systems: New systems can incur technical debt even before they launch. Organisations should purposely reverse their debt to better support innovation and growth—and revamp their IT delivery models to minimise new debt creation.

7.) Social activation

Over the years, the focus of social business has shifted from measuring volume to monitoring sentiment and, now, toward changing perceptions. In today's recommendation economy, companies should focus on measuring the perception of their brand and then on changing how people feel, share, and evangelise. Companies can activate their audiences to drive their message outward – handing them an idea and getting them to advocate it in their own words to their own network.

8.) Cloud orchestration

Cloud adoption across the enterprise is a growing reality, but much of the usage is in addition to on-premises systems – not in replacement. As cloud services continue to expand, companies are increasingly connecting cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-core systems – in strings, clusters, storms, and more – cobbling together discrete services for an end-to-end business process. Tactical adoption of cloud is giving way to the need for a coordinated, orchestrated strategy – and for a new class of cloud offerings built around business outcomes.

9.) In-memory revolution

As in-memory technologies move from analytical to transactional systems, the potential to fundamentally reshape business processes grows. Technical upgrades of analytics and ERP engines may offer total cost of ownership improvements, but potential also lies in using in-memory technologies to solve tough business problems. CIOs can help the business identify new opportunities and provide the platform for the resulting process transformation.

10.) Real-time DevOps

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IT organisations need to better respond to business needs with speed and agility. IT can likely improve the quality of its products and services by standardising and automating environment, build, release, and configuration management - using tools like deployment managers, virtualisation, continuous integration servers, and automated build verification testing. Popular in the agile world, DevOps capabilities are growing in many IT organisations with either waterfall or agile methodologies.


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