Since January, we’ve all been speculating which tech trends would win our hearts over. Now that 2018 is more than halfway over, we researched the top technologies that are packing a punch within the realms of the public sector, the workplace, and even our homes this year.
What technologies are the public sector excited about? (Hint: it’s not Fortnight or Facebook)
The 2017 annual survey for Civil Servants said civil servants were the least excited for social media technology. So, if civil servants aren’t looking to scroll Instagram or hashtag on Twitter, what are they most excited about?
The 2017 survey vocalised that civil servants are most looking forward to advancements in mobile workings, data analytics, Cloud, and personalisation in 2018.
While those are some top trends amongst UK boardrooms, one tech trend has emerged within Government senior leadership roles. According to a LACE Partners research poll amongst 250 people, of whom over half were in senior leadership roles, artificial intelligence is gaining popularity within boardrooms. In fact, the survey shows that with six of the top boardroom trends being in the tech field, foremost among all of these trends was artificial intelligence (AI).
The Future is Upon Us. So...what is AI?
While a simple Google search might yield some slightly alarming pictures that plant thoughts of a post-apocalyptic, semi-robot world... artificial intelligence is actually making some real headway in helping multiple industries lighten their daily load.
Put simply, AI is the replacement of human work by systems that perform the tasks that the humans would normally do. Some of these tasks are quite simple, like counting, language translation, and visual perception. However, AI is being developed on the forefront of technology to process more difficult tasks, like decision making. And...that development has been implemented in the UK for some time now.
AI is expected to continually be developed and implemented in multiple facets in UK Government.
Does this mean these systems will replace human labourers?
The thing is, these computer systems are so advanced that they can magnify what human labourers were doing for decades in the workforce by focusing on tasks that may have been mundane or time-consuming before, and enhance its own performance by analysing previous experiences and interactions.
So sure, machines may very well soon be replacing human intellect in some areas, but that leaves room for possibilities to maximise human success.
What does this have to do with non-governmental departments?
AI is currently being implemented in several sectors, including the financial services sector and the energy and utilities sector, according to consultancy.uk.
Twenty five percent of banking leaders say they are “embracing intelligence" to help them decide where to invest, who to lend money to and which companies to fund.
Barclays Bank staff are even using AI technology similar to Siri on the iPhone improve interaction with customers and assist them with transaction information.
Implementing AI within the financial service sector not only lightens the load of certain tasks and add to the ease at which banks can interact with their customers, but it can also significantly reduce costs within the banks, including costs in infrastructure, maintenance and development costs.
Banks who implement artificial intelligence can expect potential savings between 20 and 25 percent across IT operations.
The 5-Year Plan
Soon enough, the equivalent to a company failing to board the AI bandwagon will be the equivalent someone pulling out their flip phone phone amidst a sea of iPhones and Androids.
That future lies within the mingling of AI and energy provision.
A recent study predicted that AI “can reap efficiency gains of a fifth in utilities within five years.”
Yet it seems as though it’s going to take a lot more than five years to introduce AI technologies into the whole of the energy and utilities sector, as “less than a quarter of industry respondents said their company had a plan to harness the technology,” according to consultancy.uk.
In the meantime, AI has already made and is predicted to make some major advancements within the energy and utilities sector.
Autonomous cars are perhaps the most notorious examples of energy efficiency controversy. However, AI might just be able to help end the spat.
AI algorithms used in an Amsterdam car sharing company’s project helped cut the company energy bill by calculating the most efficient time to charge their cars.
This energy saving boosted profits by seven percent, with the AI technology weighing decisive factors such as weather, periods of cheaper energy and the holidays to conserve energy.
The brainpower of AI technology is also predicted to make an appearance in the home, as wireless washing machines and home heating systems will “learn” to mold to what the homeowner wants, in turn optimising energy use and reducing waste by finishing these tasks at night.
AI is also making more regular appearances within the energy and utilities sector, at power plants in particular.
Self-regulating and repairing turbines will incorporate artificial intelligence to consciously reduce emissions, optimise usage and enhance their own performance.
AI has infiltrated the hearts and heads of the Government as well, as multi-million pound spending for the research and utilisation of AI has been decided.
According to the AI Sector Deal, the Government’s goal is to invest £20 million in the application of AI in the services sector through the Next Generation Services Industrial Strategy Challenge, working towards innovation and collaborative R&D to develop new applications of AI and introduce it into sectors like law and insurance.
With the potential to create new jobs and “transform the way we live and work,” it’s safe to say that Government interest in AI has officially been piqued.
Bots, Blockchain and Business Oh My
While AI has a lead on interest and utilisation within several sectors, there were other technologies that are emerging as top trends within the UK, particularly big trends in business.
According to a LACE Survey, aside from AI and Brexit, Bots and Blockchain were at the forefront the innovative minds in attendance at the UNLEASH event in early 2018.
Bots, or “internet bots”, is a software application that runs repetitive, automated tasks on the internet. Bots can come in different forms, some good, some bad. An example of a popular internet bot is a web crawler, which analyses and files information from web services at high speed.
Blockchain also received an honorable mention as an up and coming technology that most of the public sector seem to be excited about.
Originally devised for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, has evolved into into a technology that allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied.
This has become dynamic in the business world, because Blockchain has introduced the digital opportunities to reduce missed transactions, avoid human and machine errors, and ensure the validity of an online transaction.
So maybe visions of an impending robot world brought to you by a Google search of Artificial Intelligence is not so far off from the future.
However, instead of gloom and doom and destruction, these popular technologies have the potential to help diagnose and treat cancer, assist each sector with creating new employment, and bring together some of the most innovative minds of our time to create life-saving, time-saving and perhaps even job-saving digital solutions.