Implementing technological advances in business – Millennials vs Technology Leaders

Posted on: June 10th, 2019

Emma Stevens and Samantha Kerins discuss differing opinions around some of the key technology trends of 2019.

As we all know, the technology sector is advancing at an accelerated rate and, as an industry, it is continuously evolving.

Businesses know they need to stay on top of developments, not only to attract employees and potential customers by showcasing themselves as “modern and forward thinking”, but to help advance their own products and services to increase profitability and, internally, to improve business efficiencies.

KPMG report findings

A recent KPMG report, The Top 10 Technologies for Business Transformation, looked at the contrasting views of millennials vs technology leaders in terms of what technology each group thought would have the biggest impact.

The findings are certainly interesting. There are clear similarities between both groups, with the millennial view being that the biggest impact will come from artificial intelligence, the internet of things and 5G. Technology leaders ranked the internet of things higher, in first position, with robotic process automation and artificial intelligence following closely behind.

In the millennials’ results there were clear indications of the ongoing social media and digital age, with social networking, digital payment platforms and mega platforms (such as Amazon and Facebook) also featured. In the business leaders’ results, digital payment platforms and mega platforms did not feature; both groups placed a similar emphasis on social networking technology.

In contrast to their predecessors, millennials have been integrating technology into their lives from a relatively young age. It is likely that the effects of this, in changing how technology is used on a day-to-day basis will become more prevalent as millennials advance in their careers – the report states that 13 per cent of millennials are already making B2B decisions.

Assuming the report findings are correct, what are the potential benefits and challenges? Regardless of which group is correct in their predictions, the use of any of the technologies considered for business transformation will come with challenges, risks and benefits; we have considered some of these further below.

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT ranked extremely highly with both groups – this is unsurprising given the increasing prevalence of such technologies over the last few years. IoT systems are popular in many homes now as, generally, they improve convenience and they are being adopted in businesses for the same reason.

As well as offering people the convenience and remote control at home, IoT technologies in business are also applied to assist with maximising safety in the work place and to improve efficiency, in particular, due to the effect of well-connected IoT devices improving response times and the time taken to complete certain tasks.

Although the scope for benefit from IoT technology in business seems clear, it does have its challenges for businesses to overcome, including compatibility and data integration. The key challenge relates to privacy and security concerns, particularly following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 and the higher obligations which this imposes on data controllers and processors.

In relation to IoT devices, the security of interconnected devices and unsecured networks is a particular challenge and one which businesses will have to be mindful of. It is important that adequate data encryption is in place along with other data and network security measures in order to limit the risk of hacking and/or data security issues.

2. Robotic process automation (RPA)

RPA, the introduction of software bots or artificial intelligence workers, is growing in popularity. It is a tool to help businesses with repetitive, routine work between systems which would previously need to have been completed by a data handler.

Once the initial set up has been achieved, which is often straightforward, the technology can operate on a repetitive and continuous cycle; there is no need for processing to stop for breaks, as manual employees would, allowing for higher levels of productivity. RPA can be programmed to follow specific rules, a particular benefit in the field of compliance.

The challenges and impacts associated with RPA are mainly around initial set-up costs and, for employees, RPA represents a risk of job reductions as some roles become automated. Initial costs are likely to be more problematic for smaller businesses; however, as technology continues to improve it seems likely that these costs will reduce for some forms of RPA. With any new process, the effects of installation are unlikely to be immediate as staff would need to be trained in how to implement and oversee systems.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI has dropped in the estimations of business leaders since last year, but remains top of the millennials’ list. The benefits of AI, where implemented properly, are similar to those of RPA set out above; however, AI remains a contentious area and there is still a lack of firm regulation about its development and implementation in some areas, which may account for its slight drop in popularity with tech leaders since last year.

4. Social networking and augmented reality (AR) marketing

Social networking remained in the middle of both lists, whilst AR was ranked only by millennials. These two forms of technology are increasingly used by businesses for marketing and, in the current world of near-permanent connectivity, they seem very likely to continue to grow in popularity as an effective means of reaching a vast audience quickly.

Marketing is a creative tool and one that does not shy away from stepping out of a comfort zone to promote a positive outcome. Augmented reality is a relatively new way of working in marketing but with big brands such a Burger King, Louis Vuitton, 19 Crimes wine, Starbucks, Lynx, Pepsi and John Lewis, amongst others, using these techniques to bring their brands to life.

Augmented reality is seen as a quirky, fun way to get people together with their smartphones and connecting with business.

Clearly this will not replace the need for one to one interaction from employees, and requires clever marketing expertise, but does allow businesses’ potential customers to experience products and services without having to come into a store – creating an experience before even walking through the door. AR is a great benefit to the marketing industry and used in conjunction with what are now more traditional social networking technologies, this seems likely to continue to increase.

Our conclusions

Technology is rapidly advancing and it can be difficult to determine those inventions that are going to simply be a “fad” from those that can actually make a difference when integrated into business and day to day life – they of course may not work in every environment.

The technologies considered in the report all have the potential to help improve business efficiencies, to increase profitability and reduce costs in the long terms in some areas.

Key challenges include the fact that the impact of many developing technologies in business is unproven, as they are still in the early stages of development; many have been show to work on a smaller scale but whether they will develop to become more cost effective and accessible for businesses of all sizes, remains to been seen.

As well as the costs involved, security is also a key concern. Data protection and privacy rules are increasingly onerous on businesses and they will be reluctant to introduce technologies which could risk costly data breaches. The lack of industry regulation at present is also something which businesses will need to be alive to as, for now, this could impact on the quality of products in the market place.

The KPMG report covers some exciting potential development for businesses; it will be interesting to see whether the predictions are correct and how technologies change with the rapid, continuing pace of development.

Emma Stevens is an Associate Solicitor and Samantha Kerins is a Trainee Solicitor, both working in the Technology Sector. For more information, please contact a member of the Technology sector team.

This article first appeared on Computing and you can view the original post here.