Slow Evolution, with Occasional Moments of Disruption
The advances that organizations see in their technology tools may not always be revolutionary, but even small improvements add up over time to represent a major leap forward. Andy Eccles, CDW’s senior vice president of integrated technology solutions, noted that one of the most popular new products at a recent consumer electronics event was a keyboard that offered a “clickier” feel than other keyboards. It was a minor improvement, but one that users appreciated.
“You can assume again that technology will just continually evolve,” Eccles said. “It’s going to get 1 percent better all the time, and we will still value the constant marginal gains and progressive improvements that technology makes.”
On the other hand, technology sometimes makes much faster advances. Steven Darrah, director of national solution providers for Intel, recounted an interaction he had with a major retailer who couldn’t gain clear visibility into whether products were placed appropriately across a store’s shelves. Darrah asked if robots could be used to take pictures of shelves at night and give the retailer’s employees a comprehensive look at where all the products were in the store — an unheard-of notion at the time.
“Six months later, we were strapping cameras to robots,” Darrah said. “They were running up and down the aisles of the store.”
Only a few years after that, technology vendors were showing off new inventory-monitoring robots at retail conferences. The story, Darrah noted, demonstrates how quickly innovations can go from idea to execution. And the pace of innovation will only keep accelerating, he says: “The least amount of transformation we will ever see is today.”
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The Future Is Arriving for AI
Numerous speakers at the event highlighted the emergence of artificial intelligence as a game-changing technology.
“Everything we do is intended to increase your revenue or reduce your costs. AI is one of those things that does both,” said John Fanelli, vice president of enterprise software at NVIDIA. “There is a use case for AI in every industry.”
The potential of AI is nearly limitless. Technologies based on AI and machine learning are already disrupting a number of industries, such as retail, transportation and fast food.
“When Burger King adopts AI, it’s time for the rest of us to do that,” Darrah said.
Dex Hunter-Torricke, vice president of global communications and public engagement for the Meta Oversight Board, explained how AI is poised to take on workloads in even industries that require significant expertise, such as healthcare and law.
As organizations explore the opportunities presented by AI and other new technologies, they must prepare for the future. “The world is drastically unprepared for the next wave of disruption,” said Hunter-Torricke.