Tech Trends Live!
Deloitte CTO Bill Briggs presented his list of technology trends that are disrupting business today in a virtual discussion sponsored by Johnson's Career Management Center.
Bill Briggs, chief technology officer at Deloitte Consulting, presented seven major technology trends disrupting business today when he spoke to Johnson students in a virtual discussion event hosted by Johnson's Career Management Center at Sage Hall, April 14, 2014. Throughout the "Tech Trends Live!" session, audience members were encouraged to post a question and vote on others' questions via Pigeonhole, a cross-platform app and website.
1. The CIO as a venture capitalist. The role of the CIO is shifting from a focus on "How do we get things to be more efficient?" to "How do we use technology to drive innovation, to shape and supercharge a strategy?" Briggs explained. In addition to assessing risk, CIOs can help businesses become more agile. "Agility," he said, is embodied in Netflix CEO Reed Hastings's philosophy of "think big, start small, fail fast, and scale soon." CIOs who define how their companies can use technology to improve the workplace and differentiate their business in the long term become strategists and catalysts for innovative change.
2. Cognitive Analytics. Briggs defined cognitive analytics as the process of applying technology to enhance human decisions as well as to answer questions differently and solve different kinds of questions. Examples include natural language processing and artificial intelligence, including machine learning — a branch of artificial intelligence concerned with the construction and study of systems that can learn from data.
Briggs cautioned that machine learning must be further developed to become more useful in processing big data. "We're at a point where the human element is still important," he said. However, machine learning technology is already being used in the health-care industry to manage data and speed up insurance preauthorization, contributing to more efficient patient management and a more efficient application of nurses' skills.
3. Industrialized Crowdsourcing. "How do we take advantage of the fact that there are more smart people that don't work for you than do?" Briggs discussed how to source specialized skills from virtually anyone, anywhere, and as needed, for tasks ranging from data entry to coding and product development. He specifically spoke of setting up contests as a non-monetary incentive mechanism for crowdsourcing en masse; while not all participants get paid, all do gain relevant experience.
4. Digital engagement. "There are no more excuses for not being able to interact with the customer through whatever channel of communication they want — apps, website, in-store," Briggs said. Customers expect seamless engagement, he added, and if they don't get it from you, they'll look elsewhere.
5. Wearables. Products that offer hands-free technology — including smart glasses, smart watches, smart bracelets, and smart body sensors — are growing quickly on the consumer side but will have to evolve along with consumer fashions. On the enterprise side, Briggs explained, companies can employ wearables with little care for fashion, but they must be able to justify the investment. Smart glasses can help warehouse workers with logistics, for instance, while diagnostic technology can provide service technicians with immediate feedback on different technical conditions and guide them through hands-free repairs.
6. Social Activation: As a form of marketing, this means not just passive monitoring, but active influencing, driving messaging, and advertising in customers' own words. Briggs explained that encouraging social marketing strategies requires "moving out from empty analysis of the number of followers to actually understanding and interacting with the people following corporate channels, making people matter and feel like ambassadors," which will "promote an aspect of value."
7. Cloud orchestration. With the anxiety of the first five years of cloud technology out of the way, companies are now using the cloud for HR processes and infrastructure platforms. These are useful solutions that help to manage and orchestrate complexity.
After running through these points, Briggs began responding to more than 60 questions submitted by participants from campuses across the country, answering them according to the number of votes each had garnered. The first question focused on going mobile, which Briggs said adds a tremendous capability to shape users' experience. "To do it right, you need to have agile delivery methodology," he explained.
He then went on to say that companies should mix being on the constant lookout for new potential and rising technologies while simultaneously adapting and mastering current ones.
"Pick up new things over the weekend, at night ... to keep yourself relevant," he advised.
Big demand areas for Deloitte, he pointed out, include predictive analytic techniques through statistical modeling and machine learning and focusing these into supply chain analytics, for instance. These technologies will have profound effects on how businesses are run in the next five years, Briggs said, and it will be important for business leaders to be well rounded.
Patrick Braga '16, an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson, did the reporting for this story.