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5 emerging technologies IT students need to know

At a glance

  • Emerging Internet of things (IoT) technologies have the potential to optimize the way we live and work. 
  • One of the most hotly debated examples of new technology is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • Other emerging IoT developments that should be on technology students’ radar are blockchain, quantum computing, cybersecurity and automation. 
  • Interested in career-relevant skills for a technical career? Explore University of Phoenix’s online IT certificate and technology degree programs

Defining emerging technologies

Emerging IoT technologies help move our society forward (or at least enhance the convenience factor of our daily lives). The term refers to innovations, developments and advancements that cross fields like engineering, science and information technology. 

In practical terms, innovation can look like automobiles (if you were living in the early 20th century), the internet (if you were living in the late 20th century) or mobile payments (which you probably remember).

Career-focused tech degrees aligned to the skills employers want. 

How tech advancements impact society

This may seem obvious, but there’s more to emerging technologies than a new device. New technologies are relatively fast and groundbreaking, and they bring significant change.

Innovations can:

  • Offer efficiency
  • Enhance your quality of life
  • Solve complex problems
  • Automate repetitive tasks

For instance, digital advancements help us communicate efficiently, access information quicker and shop faster. 

Businesses pay close attention to new trends, because trends can affect both strategy and success. Getting a jump on new technologies helps organizations innovate their products and services. It can also impact how they market and sell to customers.

All of this means individuals — especially technology students — need to care about emerging technologies the way businesses do. Here’s the latest on some of the technologies to pay attention to. 

5 emerging technologies to watch

So, what’s hot in the world of technology? The most common trends are blockchain; artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; quantum computing; cybersecurity; and automation.

1. Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology refers to a shared digital ledger composed of transactions. As transactions occur, a time-stamped and numbered data block is created, resulting in a chain of information. The blocks are irreversibly connected so that nothing can be altered.

A blockchain allows digital transactions to be securely recorded and tracked. This database technology powers most cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin), banking transactions, digital contracts and digital assets, like non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

What’s special about blockchain technology is that it can improve the security, accuracy and efficiency of digital transactions. It’s also decentralized, meaning that copies of the database are distributed across several computers instead of being housed in one location. This mitigates the potential for cyber threats. 

While blockchain is more of a niche emerging technology, it has the potential to expand to other areas, including healthcare and supply chain management.

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2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI has actually been around since the 1950s. It’s also known as computer-generated human intelligence. Essentially, a computer or computer-controlled robot is trained to simulate the responses of a human.

A subset of AI is machine learning, when a computer can become more intelligent over time by using techniques that gather data and build pathways to analyze the data. Machine learning can be used to solve business problems and tasks, and machine learning algorithms can build logical models, develop predictions and make decisions.

Today, AI is everywhere. There are pre-trained language models that allow us to quickly write content, create animations and generally improve productivity. AI can also draft human voices into audio files

An April 2023 report cited on states that AI is projected to experience 37.3% annual growth from 2023 to 2030, per Grand View Research. The market size for AI could reach $407 billion by 2027.

As far as prospective technology students are concerned, AI isn’t going anywhere. The sooner they learn how AI tools work and, more importantly, can evolve, the better those students will be able to remain competitive in the tech field.

3. Quantum computing

In computer science, quantum computing is tasked with solving complex problems that classical computers cannot. Additionally, quantum computers can leverage quantum algorithms and manage more complexity and ambiguity than classical computers. This speedy form of computing processes information as “qubits” (quantum bits), while classical computers use regular bits. 

It is estimated that quantum computers can process data 158 million times faster than standard computers. As an emerging technology, quantum computing can have a role in fraud detection, logistics, facial recognition and pharmaceutical research.

Although quantum computing is in its infancy, it will help organizations and business leaders with optimization and to improve the transmission of secure data. Examples include optimizing business strategies, supply chains and resource allocation, and improving efficiency while reducing costs.  

4. Cybersecurity

If you’re a current or prospective technology student, cybersecurity is an in-demand field. Whether it’s phishing schemes or malware, cyberattacks are rampant, and businesses need experts who can protect networks and present innovative solutions.

Cybersecurity statistics from Norton reveal that 82% of people surveyed in 10 countries, including India, Australia, the U.K., Japan and the U.S., have taken some measure to protect their online data. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said they want to do more to shield their privacy but don’t know how. With recent cyberattacks on hospitals, pipelines, computer networks and water supply centers, this technical field is moving quickly. 

Cybersecurity is a pressing and growing concern for individuals and organizations globally. Increasing your cybersecurity acumen and skills can help defend against cyber threats and safeguard digital assets from cybercriminals. One way to stay up to date and vigilant when it comes to online security is to enroll in a cybersecurity degree program and explore industry certification courses, where you can run phishing simulations, conduct vulnerability assessment scenarios and practice ethical hacking techniques.

UOPX offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in cybersecurity, along with three cybersecurity certificate programs. These programs emphasize building career-relevant skills so that you can develop solutions to emerging tech problems.

5. Automation

Automation is all about efficiency. People can increasingly hand off tasks to automation, from payroll processing to emails to driving a car. The number of driverless cars, for example, is forecast to increase by 10% by 2030.

In terms of emerging technology, automation won’t completely replace human behavior, but it will reduce the need for us to complete some of life’s more mundane tasks. Companies are increasingly incorporating it into their customer service responses, email marketing campaigns and sales programs.

Robotic process automation (RPA), which is also referred to as software robotics, is often used in organizations to automate repetitive, rule-based tasks. RPA can automate human actions to save time and money, reduce errors and free up humans to focus on more complex tasks.

Intelligence automation (IA) is another emerging process and is considered by some to be the future of RPA. While RPA is process driven, IA is data driven and can use AI algorithms, natural language processing (NLP), RPA and machine learning to process tasks and make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency beyond RPA bots. 

Tech programs at University of Phoenix

Technology is changing as we speak, but you can stay on track by continuing or advancing your education. University of Phoenix’s online certificate and degree programs include the following: 

  • Discover nine information technology certificate programs that include undergraduate and post-master’s levels. You can choose from topics such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, health informatics, software development and business analytics.
  • Explore technology degree programs at the associatebachelor’s and master’s levels, with specialization options ranging from data science to cybersecurity.
Kellye Fox headshot


Kellye is a versatile writer with more than 10 years of print and digital experience. She’s passionate about explaining complex topics, educating readers and sharing useful tips. When Kellye’s not attached to her computer, she enjoys cooking, gardening, reading and watching movies with her husband and two children.


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