With everyone now back in the office, renewed, reinvigorated and ready for the business challenges that 2018 is set to bring, it’s timely to make a few cautious but confident predictions about what the ‘next big things’ in business tech will be over the coming year, like RPA.

2017 was a tumultuous period in both politics and society, with Brexit changing the economic scene across Europe. With Hollywood being held firmly under the spotlight as Harvey Weinstein faced harassment allegations.

However, aside from scandal and suspect, last year was also a transformative time for technology. Virtual reality became the latest must-have for both organisations and consumers. The Internet of Things (IoT) continued to grow at scale. The rapid innovations and developments in connected, autonomous vehicles surged.

On the other hand, there has also been much hype and hyperbole reported on the impact of VR, AI and other technologies. Including machine learning.

 

Diluting the AI hype

There’s no arguing that AI technologies are rapidly growing. Both in sophistication, and regarding the practical applications that they can offer. SMEs and enterprises alike could benefit.

We can reasonably predict, with certainty, that 2018 is NOT going to be ‘the year’ of AIClick To Tweet

That being said, we can reasonably predict that 2018 is NOT going to be ‘the year’ of AI. This is despite the tremendous amount of excitement and buzz around the business potential of the technology. Not to mention the tabloid scaremongering around the potential for a mass robot takeover.

Looking at both large and small businesses, there is still no concrete use-cases of intelligent learning technology. This includes the advantages that this technology can bring to the way organisations operate.

CIOs and IT managers alike should focus on the here and now. They shouldn’t focus on what AI may or may not offer them in 2022, 2030 or further into the future. This also means that businesses need to think more about their organisation in its current state – by clearing up and improving efficiencies.

This year is a year to reflect on how many employees you have doing what and whether or not it is the most valuable means of doing things, regarding both time and resource. Don’t cling to AI, machine learning or other buzzwords in the hope that these technologies will magically solve your basic business challenges over the coming year.

 

Turn down the buzz terms

Indeed, this brings us on to our next prediction for business technology over the coming year. Buzzwords should be banned!

Admittedly, this is something that is more of a fervent hope and prayer than a straightforward prediction. The fact remains, the hype around specific technical terms throughout 2017 has led to unnecessary levels of confusion. It has also lead to misinformation across B2B technology media.

IoT, digital transformation, AI and other much-overused acronyms and buzzwords risk losing any meaning whatsoever. They need to be used with material examples of the technology in practice. They can then exemplify and clarify how they can be of benefit in specific cases.

Again, business leaders and CIOs need to focus on the present, not be tempted to future-gaze too much. Deliver a plan that focuses on the year ahead and how to make the best use of your current technologies to drive value.

 

The relationship between shareholders and CIOs

So don’t future gaze. Instead, focus your time and energy on delivering shareholder value in 2018, instead of believing too much of the hype and bluster around IoT, AI, virtual reality, blockchain or the other popular tech jargon of the year just gone.

In 2018, the CIO’s that do well will be those that get to grips with software robotics and figure out the ways of delivering shareholder value from using this much-vaunted technology.

Don’t forget that CIO’s don’t get to stick around for a long time, so you are unlikely to be able to keep the shareholders happy over the coming year from the mid to long-term returns promised by those technologies mentioned above.

 

RPA will be the only acronym that matters

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the back office is the essential technology acronym to remember in 2018. Business leaders will need to look at how to transform the back room through RPA.

Using RPA is going to deliver a truly competitive edge to enterprises in the coming year, as it can free up people to work on the more creative aspects of keeping a company competitive.

In the year ahead, prioritising RPA in the back office will mean companies won’t just be treading water but instead genuinely preparing for the business wins on offer from genuinely scalable robotics in the near future.