In 2018, we saw technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) change the way we work. As an IT professional, you’ve probably spent the past year either implementing or thinking about ways to implement these technologies and reap the benefits for your business.
But 2019 will have more to offer, with existing technologies becoming more sophisticated and mainstream. Here’s some trends to watch in the coming year.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In a recent article, Gartner identified artificial intelligence as one of the top strategic technologies in 2019 that will drive disruption and new business models. It highlighted how AI continues to evolve with numerous applications in various industries - with some tech giants now employing AI robots for security.
Autonomous robots, drones, vehicles and even appliances use AI to perform tasks normally done by humans. Self-driving cars, for instance, can now drive around town, follow road rules, sense everything that’s happening around it, and learn the quickest way to a destination – all without human intervention.
Another emerging application of AI focuses on augmented analytics. It uses machine learning technology to automate how data is gathered, analysed and presented. In many situations, it can even remove the need for a professional data scientist. With augmented analytics, any company employee – from HR and finance to sales and customer service – can have quick access to data analysis and insights to make better business decisions.
This presents huge opportunities for businesses that can capitalise on this data – but it also presents big challenges in terms of how businesses collect, process and store information. As a result, enterprise content management (ECM) systems are set to become far more powerful.
In short, artificial intelligence has a huge potential to disrupt any business and industry. As an IT Manager, it is important for you to recognise and leverage the benefits of AI in improving processes and enhancing operational efficiencies.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Automation will be a key theme in 2019. And one technology trend that will become more mainstream in the coming year is robotic process automation. RPA automates business processes to free up employees from doing routine tasks, so they can focus on top priorities and higher value objectives.
With RPA tools, you can easily manage applications, gather and analyse data, communicate with other systems and trigger responses when certain conditions are met. It can be as simple as automating email responses to customer queries or troubleshooting IT issues.
Robotic process automation can also enhance your enterprise content management or document solutions. It can be trained to automate tasks like identifying and organising documents based on content, storing them in easily accessible folders, and automatically running document process workflows.
In 2018, we’ve seen advances in 3D printing as more people realise the potential benefit of this technology. In the coming year, there will be a significant increase in adoption of this technology across different industries (particularly in education) as 3D printers become more sophisticated, faster and more cost effective.
Metal 3D printing is expected to gain more popularity in 2019. With advances in software technology, a significant increase in quality and cheaper parts, businesses are starting to test out metal printing to produce more durable outputs.
Also, there will be higher demand for customisation in 3D printing. Automobile, aerospace and dental industries are already active in this space – but more companies in other sectors will begin to see the value of providing customers with customised product options and prototypes.
“Technologies such as blockchain, AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing will have a transformative impact on how work gets done” (Gartner)
In 2018, we’ve seen the rise of the ‘mobile workforce’, where employees can work anytime, anywhere and easily access important data or information in real time. This has given workers increased freedom and flexibility on how, when and where they can deliver their best work.
In 2019, we will see more companies implement digital or mobile-enabled work environments to increase employee satisfaction, improve productivity and streamline processes.
We will also see more workplaces bridge the gap between physical and digital environments with better integration, connectivity and automated ‘intelligent’ systems. People, processes and technologies will come together to create more seamless and interactive experiences for staff and customers.
As the concept of a ‘paperless office’ becomes a reality for most businesses, everything would be stored and managed in the cloud. Intelligent document management devices - equipped with advanced printing and scanning systems - will become the bridge between the physical office and the virtual world of the cloud, and be utilised by remote workers to increase efficiencies.
IT Managers therefore have the ongoing task of making sure that systems are updated, compatible, easily controlled and secured.
Smarter office machines
These digital workplaces will require smarter and more intelligent office machines. Both management and employees no longer go for simply the cheapest option – but look for machines that fit their needs and deliver the best results. People are now focused on improving quality, speed and overall outcomes for their businesses.
Printers and scanners will be upgraded to make the most of the advancements in security, symmetric recognition and voice activation systems. These technologies have already been integrated into some smart printers and multifunction devices (MFDs), but we will see more enhancements in the coming year for better integration and adoption in various workplaces.
Outsourced managed print services (MPS)
It’s all about the consolidation of suppliers in 2019. Businesses will begin to move away from having multiple suppliers for specific requirements, and build long-term relationships with key business partners that can deliver more comprehensive solutions.
For instance, managed print services (MPS) will continue to expand and evolve to deliver the best outcomes and achieve core objectives for businesses. Recent research shows that the MPS industry is expected to reach USD 49.7 billion by 2025. MPS covers the entire print and document environment – managing systems and processes, increasing productivity and mobility, and enhancing security while minimising environmental impacts.
There you have it, the key technology trends and innovations for your business in 2019. If you’d like some help upgrading your document management systems, why not book a site audit? We’ll help you discover ways to improve your processes in the coming year.