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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Forbes.com 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.
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.
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.