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January 30, 2024
4 Min Read
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Technology today is accelerating -- closing the gap between what’s “now” and what’s “next” at an ever-increasing rate.
Moore’s Law declared that computing speed would double every 24 months, an unquestioned reality that held for decades. AI has reduced that timespan to less than four months, and over the next 10 years generative AI could grow by more than 100,000,000x faster than Moore’s Law.
That’s not all: the number of patents filed for quantum computing has grown from less than 300 to more than 6,000 in less than 10 years. Virtual reality is becoming more seamless and lifelike. And all this innovation is happening faster and with greater urgency than we saw with mobile devices, social media, or even the Internet itself.
In PwC’s newly released research, we’ve identified the essential eight technologies that are transforming business and culture. Understanding what these and other emerging technologies can do -- and when to integrate them into your business -- will likely be fundamental for both everyday operations and long-term strategy.
Every industry and company, from small to large, should consider implementation of at least some of these technologies if they hope to compete and grow. To help businesses assess where to direct strategic investments, we’ve organized the essential eight technologies into three categories: essential to expand, essential to evaluate, and essential to experiment.
Essential to Expand
These technologies are operating at scale today, and many companies are ready to expand their use even further.
Generative AI grabs the headlines for good reason -- it’s so powerful and easy to use. In fact, 58% of businesses are planning to prioritize investment in AI, more than any technology, emphasizing its shift from being gatekept tools for tech executives to now in the hands of the masses.
Conventional AI is advancing, too. Machine learning and other types of AI are used responsibly across organizations to deliver greater productivity and enhance decision-making. AI’s potential to deliver value and solve challenges keeps growing, both as a stand-alone technology and as an enabler of other essential technologies on our list.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT remains an integral reality of our everyday lives, with applications ranging from individual wearables to enterprise-level functions like predictive maintenance and asset management. Adoption will increase as companies recognize how IoT enables data-driven insights.
Essential to Evaluate
These technologies are growing in applicable use cases but are not a priority at most companies -- yet. It’s time for businesses to reevaluate their strategies given ongoing advancements.
Blockchain can provide transparent, cost-effective, and secure ways to store, monitor and transfer information and assets -- enabling new digital business models. Growing adoption, interoperability advancements, and regulatory clarity are positioning blockchain to become a critical enabler of enterprise innovation and trust.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR is a powerful tool for upskilling and workforce collaboration, transforming employee and customer experiences as well as companies’ daily operations. The integration of AI and of eye and facial tracking is poised to further blur the line between digital and physical worlds.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Unlike VR, which creates immersive virtual worlds, AR builds upon and creates new ways to interact with the real world. AR often helps solve problems and enhance processes in maintenance, design visualization and customer engagement.
Advanced robotics integrates artificial intelligence into robots so they can interact and respond to real-world situations. These robots can increase productivity and workforce safety, adapt to dynamic environments, and make real-time decisions.
Essential to Experiment
These technologies are highly promising and rapidly advancing. It is important to consider how your business or industry could be impacted.
This technology could soon enable computers and computer-based applications (such as AI) to perform far more complex operations, solving previously “unsolvable” problems faster than classical computing solutions. Quantum computing’s processing capability has the potential to revolutionize supply chain operations, financial portfolio management, and cybersecurity.
Neuromorphic computing uses electronic circuits to emulate the human brain, creating efficiencies in both data processing and power consumption for better sustainability and greater cost savings. The related field of neural interfaces takes human-machine interaction to a new level, bridging the gap between our minds and machines to improve people’s lives (such as with prosthetics or robotic limbs.)
What Companies Should Do Next
These eight technologies are not only essential on their own, but they are also converging.
IoT can blend with AI and blockchain for more resilient supply chain operations; AI and quantum computing can help improve routes for business travelers; and neuromorphic computing and advanced robotics can automate complex industrial processes. By converging these solutions, companies can modernize and set a powerful precedent for their future development.
As we look ahead at these emerging technologies’ impact, the responsible deployment of technology will be crucial in building trust with stakeholders. Companies should put the right governance, standards, and accountability in place to safeguard their businesses and customers. Leaders should begin upskilling workforces to use emerging technologies.
Whether your business is ready to expand its adoption of emerging technologies, is preparing to evaluate, or just looking to experiment, ignoring this uniquely disruptive and transformative era of innovation is not an option. Embracing a human-led and tech-powered future -- learning about it, planning for it, and acting on it -- will be essential for all.
About the Author(s)
Global AI and US Innovation Technology Leader, PwC
Scott Likens is the Global AI and Innovation Technology lead and oversees the Innovation Hub in the United States. With more than 30 years of emerging technology experience, he has helped clients transform their customer experience and enhance their digital operations across all aspects of their business.
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