Some people make a lot of money making bets about future technology. These analysts and prognosticators gaze into their crystal balls and make educated guesses about what tomorrow will bring and where the industry is heading. It seems like an easy enough job if one is paying attention to trends. But it is not as easy as it looks.

Remember Sprint? Their bet on WiMax put them solidly in last place. They are now owned by T-Mobile. That single misreading of which way the tech winds were blowing is credited for tanking the company.

Your company might not have its own flock of technology tea leaf readers. But that is no excuse for missing the next, fast-moving trend and being left behind. If it can happen to big enterprise, it can happen to you. Microsoft missed mobile and to this day, they have no viable product in the space. Blackberry didn’t see the iPhone coming, and didn’t believe it when they saw it. RIP Blackberry. The company that makes the right bets on future tech will have a competitive advantage. Here is the tech to watch:

Human Enhancements

Humans are pretty great just the way they are. But that does not mean there is no room for enhancement in certain settings. In the near future, workers wearing powered exoskeleton suits will be able to do more with greater efficiency. Sarcos states it this way:

The Guardian XO full-body exoskeleton is the world’s first battery-powered industrial robot to combine human intelligence, instinct, and judgment with the power, endurance, and precision of machines.

Set to transform the way work gets done, the Guardian XO industrial exoskeleton augments operator strength without restricting freedom of movement to boost productivity while dramatically reducing injuries.

AR is another technology that can augment human ability. Right now, Microsoft is the industry leader in providing use cases for augmented reality in the business world. It is still early days for the HoloLens hardware. And it is important to note that the industry is still quite nascent. While these products will continue to mature, now is the time for budgetary planning.

Digital Democratization

The digital revolution is fully upon us. Businesses are coming to the realization that no digital revolution is either successful or complete until everyone can participate. Digitization has to trickle down from the enterprise, to the small business, to the person with a modern computer, to the person with only a budget smartphone.

Beyond the endpoint hardware, both companies and governments have to make a stronger commitment to infrastructure. Digitalization is not an advantage without the broadband foundation. Only when every worker has access to broadband will the digital transition be nearing its completion.

The digital chain will still have a missing link without a standardized education that includes modern technology. Digital implementation is far outpacing education. That means more people will be left behind as time goes on. Corporations will need to sponsor more computer education if they want a qualified workforce that is familiar with the tools of modern industry.

AI and Employee Advancement

AI is a reality today that will only be more so tomorrow. This is a huge opportunity for your workforce to advance and become even more valuable to the company. Many of the tasks done by humans today are not worthy of that person’s true potential. When those tasks are automated, the person will be free to move their career forward. The time is now to more aggressively cross-train employees so they are prepared to take on other roles and responsibilities.

As digital democratization becomes more prevalent, more people at the upper rung of the corporate ladder will opt to take the path of entrepreneurship. Tools will be more available and the barrier to entry will get lower by the day. Your workforce needs to be prepared to move up through the ranks. If you are not training your employees for the next level up, you will find yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Your competitors will not be making the same mistake.

Some future tech represents a tough call for CFOs and COOs. But other calls are rather easy. We are certainly heading into a future where workers will have access to enhancements via robotics and augmented reality. The digital revolution will only be complete as we near true digital democratization. And as AI becomes more capable of doing more tasks for your company, you must ensure the same is true for your workforce. The companies with the most technically capable workforce will have a strong advantage. 

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