Just last week, Gartner hosted a webinar on its Hype Cycle 2010, revealing the emerging technologies that are the likeliest to transform business. While there are dozens of technologies reviewed, and even more listed, a few rose to the top. Most interesting is that these emerging technologies all have to do with how companies collect, analyze, use, disperse, and leverage data for a competitive advantage. Even more, enterprises will most likely be leveraging these technologies in the cloud for application delivery, and data storage and organization.
Here are two transformational technologies worth examining today as IT organizations continue their strategic planning for 2011 and beyond:
Augmented Reality for smart internal decision making and external corporate marketing
This emerging technology overlays digital information onto a physical world. For businesses, augmented reality (AR) is a new way to deliver information that enables work and decision making. A mobile device interacts with a physical space or object (by a picture, GPS technology, etc.) and then overlays relevant digital data. Consumers are the biggest users of AR today. When looking through a mobile device at a neighborhood, an AR application can for example, pull up all the Starbucks locations in a geographic area. Or, when taking a picture of a painting, Google Goggles can search the Internet and identify the name of the painting and the artist, and perhaps which museum houses the original. For businesses that market to consumers, one can only imagine the marketing opportunities. In fact, says Gartner, AR will be one of the top 10 disruptive technologies through 2012.
Business Applications of AR
Augmented Reality technology is extremely promising with what seems like unlimited possibilities. Yet the reason Gartner places Augmented Reality in the early stages of the Hype Cycle is that most applications are in development and not yet being delivered for businesses. InformationAge agrees and says “the technology is still developing, and there are some potential applications that it cannot yet support. An important example for businesses is locating objects within a store or warehouse. This is because today’s augmented reality systems use global positioning system coordinates to pinpoint locations. They can therefore be used to locate buildings or cars with GPS systems, but not small objects and not to an accuracy of less than a meter. In time this will change. Indoor positioning is one of the holy grails for augmented reality, and lots of people are working on it.” Soon for example, businesses will be able to point a device in a warehouse or at a truck, for example, to view an x-ray like image that shows what inventory is on-hand and available.
Activity Streams as a new corporate data and revenue source
As businesses and consumers leverage the Internet more and more, the data available is growing exponentially. How can businesses leverage this data deluge? First, identify the data that can be useful. For example, the London Bridge tweets every time the bridge opens and closes. By capturing this data, a transportation company can better schedule and reroute city deliveries.
Second, as data is captured within an organization and externally mined, enterprises should consider if and how a new source of revenue may be generated. In one of my earlier blogs I address how businesses can assess new revenue-generating opportunities by asking these questions:
• “Who might find this information valuable?” Can the company sell information related to consumer behavior or preferences?
• “What would happen if we provided our product or service free of charge?” If a company increased its onlinecustomers’ activity or membership significantly, a new revenue stream may come from advertisers or other companies who want access to this community of customers.
The availability and use of data for predictive analysis, as well as data mining, is not new. What’s new is the type of data available. With the explosion of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.) companies have a brand new source of data to leverage for their competitive advantage. Companies can identify their brand/product influencers (which Tweeter had the most followers, who tweets most frequently, etc.). Even more important, companies can perform “sentiment analysis” by mining and analyzing the online content focused on a particular company, person, product, etc.
Augmented Reality and Activity Streams scratch the surface for what will be possible for enterprises. These two emerging technologies are worth considering and integrating as IT and business groups strategically plan for 2011 and beyond.