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Four technological trends that will transform business part 2
Fri, 03/01/2024 - 08:30

Nicolás Goldstein

Cultura del cambio en tiempos de COVID-19
Nicolás Goldstein

Presidente ejecutivo de Accenture Chile

Technology is fundamentally changing how the business world works. And there are four main trends that are marking this transformation. In a previous column (link to previous column) I referred to the first two. In this one, I will talk about the last two.

The third trend talks about spatial computing, which is about to change the course of technological innovation and the way people work and live. The different technological eras are marked and defined by the computer media we use. The computer introduced consumers to the world of information. Later, mobile phones liberated the digital world and allowed us to take computers everywhere. And throughout the explosive technological innovation of recent decades, computers and mobile phones have been the basis of everything.

Now is the time for spatial computing. The metaverse is one of its best-known applications. As we have seen, this technology allows us to increasingly unite the virtual world with the real one. And advanced technologies like generative AI continue to make it faster and cheaper to create spatial environments and experiences. The technologies, part of spatial computing, are already being tested in industrial applications. Digital twins for manufacturing; augmented and virtual reality for worker training and remote operation, among many other applications.

An emerging capability that differentiates spatial computing from its digital counterparts is the involvement of our senses. The best example of this is the use of augmented/virtual reality for training. Training is more impactful when you can live the experience instead of watching a video. The second advantage of spatial computing over other media is the ability to give users the ability to decide on their experiences within the application, through it, companies can design experiences that give users more flexibility to move and explore.

An example is Fiat Metaverse Store. In the virtual store, users can customize their vehicle model with different body types, colors, interiors and entertainment options. Users can then take a virtual drive to test drive the car and see its features up close. Throughout the experience you are accompanied by a live virtual expert who can answer any questions.

Companies worldwide are already preparing for this new revolution. According to Accenture's Technology Vision 2024 study, 92% of managers agree that their organization plans to create a competitive advantage by leveraging spatial computing.

The fourth trend concerns the interaction between humans and machines. People's lack of understanding is a factor that limits many of the technologies we use today. Innovators are trying to change this situation. Across sectors, they are creating technologies and systems capable of understanding people in new and deeper ways. They are creating a "human interface."

An example is in neurotechnology, which is beginning to connect with people's minds. Recently, two independent studies by researchers at the University of California and Stanford University have shown how the use of neural prostheses allows speech to be decoded from neural data. Another example is technologies that read body movement, such as eye and hand tracking. In 2023, Apple's Vision Pro introduced visionOS, which allows users to navigate and click with a glance and a simple gesture, without the need for a handheld controller.

Today many business challenges depend exactly on that. For starters, customer service, products, and workplace experience. In all companies we use a wide range of technologies that help us understand people and adapt to them. And we are so used to today's limitations, to these technologies never fully "understanding" us, that we may not even realize the extent to which that gap limits what we do.

With the human interface we can improve employee training, safer workplaces, with less miscommunication and fewer accidents. We could create digital products that, by better understanding and engaging people, will reach a broader customer base. Let's imagine the increase in productivity when we don't have to work around technology, but instead it works around us.

Some of the most promising use cases are in areas where people and machines operate in shared spaces. For example, companies could create safer and more productive manufacturing systems if robots could anticipate what people are going to do. Or the vehicles could monitor not only pedestrians but also drivers, helping them improve road safety, which could impact the automotive industry, supply chains and other sectors.

The “human interface” could drive the invention of new products and services. Brain sensing, for example, could help people "improve" themselves. For example, L'Oréal collaborates with EMOTIV to help people better understand their fragrance preferences. Companies use EMOTIV headphones to measure customers' neural responses to various L'Oréal fragrance families. An algorithm in the headphones interprets the data to show customers how different fragrances make them feel.

One thing is clear. This future is near. And executives know it. According to Accenture's Technology Vision 2024 study, 94% of executives worldwide agree that human interface technologies will allow us to better understand behaviors and intentions, transforming human-machine interaction.