Looking ahead to 2019, the year promises to see topics like machine learning and IoT in supply chains absorb larger spotlights, based on what we saw at Orange Silicon Valley this year. In the events, reports, and conversations that emerged from our teams in 2018, these technologies and more sparked predictions and collaborations that defined our year in tech. The insights we gained came from partners, speakers at our hosted events, investors, startup founders, and our own group of analysts. These are just a few of the prominent tech trends that these thought leaders addressed.
1. Artificial intelligence use cases appear across industries and sectors
Artificial intelligence can be used across an expansive range of industries, and it is common to see solutions that pair domain expertise with AI. AI has a wide scope of use cases, which is why it is heavily promoted in different sectors, encouraging interdisciplinary research and collaborations. Some of the fields that have been most impacted by AI include e-commerce, cyber security, customer experience, marketing and sales, and supply chain. In addition to scaling intelligence, AI also aids workers in completing otherwise mundane, repetitive tasks. Sarah Luger, a natural language processing specialist at Orange Silicon Valley, spoke at length about why having a working knowledge of AI in specific industries is beneficial in the third episode of Orange Silicon Valley’s Bistrocast podcast. She also offered insights on machine data software innovation and the future of AI.
2. Using data in better, more efficient ways will set leading IoT companies apart
While it is hard to predict exactly how data will shape the future, there is a paradigm shift occurring with data use, and that change has already arrived in the tech world, lifting many previous constraints. People and machines are now generating more data than ever before, with 90% of the world’s data recorded within the last two years. The popular phrase “data is the new oil” implies data will unleash a source of power that will change the world. Mike Vladimer, the co-founder of OSV’s IoT Studio discussed big data implications in a January Medium article, as well as how data will shape the future in his appearance on the Bistrocast. In short, having ready access to large amounts of data can be impactful, and people are still trying to find the most valuable ways to put data to use.
3. HR is undergoing digital transformation with profound implications
Data analytics and people science are trending topics in HR, as data analytics can inform hiring decisions and help HR teams to assess the value of potential hires. For example, a data science team might conduct research on candidates and identity a hiring preference based on outcomes related to performance, team matches, or profit. HR teams have to prioritize data science resources when decision making is sensitive. Using data was previously more expensive, and leveraging the data to make decisions was difficult. In addition to informing hiring decisions, data analytics can also be used to surface actionable insights from current employees. Through network analysis, it is possible to figure out what people within a company are doing throughout the day, and from that, test ways to increase productivity. University of California, Berkeley professor Gregory LaBlanc who specializes in economics, data science, and finance spoke on these points at Orange Silicon Valley’s HR LearnEx event this past November. Not all of these ideas have been implemented in HR yet. However, there is already excitement about digital tracking’s potential.
4. Supply chains are actively implementing AI and IoT
As the supply chain process grows more intricate, new opportunities are opening up for technologies that improve efficiency. AI, for example, can be useful when tracking cargo ships in the middle of the ocean, and it can assist in predicting where a ship will be, given certain external data sets and taking into account the initial location, where the ship will end up at, and all the stops it makes along the way. Additionally, AI can help track and automate inventory levels. When a product is low and needs to be reordered, AI may be a dependable tool for informing this process. In an interview on the OSV blog, supply chain analyst Justin Young said “communication technology, specifically IoT, has a major role in automating visibility. We can connect all offline assets moving downstream into various management systems to better predict and make decisions empowered by real time data.”
5. Standards for utility among IoT products are getting higher
Creating an IoT device is now affordable and feasible, so there are now a lot of products. However, not all IoT products are necessarily valuable or useful to customers. Mike Vladimer addressed this situation in his interview on the Bistrocast: “I have a framework I call IoT 1.0 and IoT 2.0. With IoT 1.0, many companies took the approach ‘if we can IoTify it, let’s IoTify it.’ Although those products do create some value for some people, it’s not game changing. Instead, I’m interested in finding markets where people are in intense pain and solving their problems.” In his eyes, a useful IoT product is something that is the best at solving its particular problem, not a smart product that tries to be the best at everything.
6. High innovation and market expectations for autonomous vehicles
The autonomous vehicle industry is slower at innovation because manufacturers have to use extra precaution when making smart cars. Only a few vehicle companies are predicted to master autonomous aspects, and eventually self-driving cars. The high expectations are putting pressure on established car brands to reshape their approach to innovation. They must find new ways to differentiate themselves among new competitors from non-traditional backgrounds, as well as looking past mere vehicle performance and understanding how to innovate as service providers as well. There is a large space in the market for autonomous vehicles, and once services become more established, it will drive the economy. More information on autonomous vehicle innovation can be found in our January Medium article by former OSV connected cars analyst Jonathan Salomon.
7. Convergence lies ahead for satellites and terrestrial tech in the 5G era
New space companies are rising in popularity because of the influence they hold over satellites and connectivity. Early this year, former Orange Silicon Valley Aerospace analyst Hugo Wagner sat down for an interview on why the new space industry is suddenly so important, and implications it has for the future. “5G is still a big word, and I think the keyword here- for both the terrestrial industry and the satellite industry — is harmonization. When we talk about 5G, we need to talk about regulations and spectrum policy. We’re going to see a lot of convergence; 5G is going to bring a lot of convergence as far as the technology goes, but also as far as the regulations go,” he said in the interview.
8. GenZ thrives on digital technologies
GenZers rely heavily on screen-based technologies and social media. They get most of their information from media feeds, and use this as a way to stay connected. As they create their own business models, become social media influences, and build their own brands, they should not be overlooked. These skills translate into value for the workforce, and companies need to understand these skill sets as GenZers begin arriving to their offices in droves. More insights about GenZ and where the generation is headed is discussed in Orange Silicon Valley’s GenZ handbook.
9. Natural language processing tools are on the rise
Natural language processing is a subdomain of AI that focuses on machine learning and text translation. Voice assistants are conversational engines that emit voice made through ML and NLP techniques. For example, one of Google Assistant’s most publicized features in 2018 has been Google Duplex, an AI-based system for coordinating real-world tasks over the phone. Sarah Luger discussed these topics and more about her work with NLP in the third episode of the Bistrocast.
10. Smart city innovations are now necessary
Growing urban populations are putting more pressure on cities to implement smart cities technologies. Each city has its own unique needs, but they are learning from one another, and big cities like San Francisco and New York are already taking steps to become “smarter.” This is easier to do in larger cities, because they have business models that can support them as they build out future infrastructure. Will Barkis talked about these projects and the future of smart cities in the second episode of Orange Silicon Valley’s Bistrocast.