AI, IoT, Blockchain: Technologies every business should focus on

By: |
December 31, 2018 4:22 AM

These new technologies should not be harnessed in isolation. Importantly, they should be aligned to both business strategy and, ideally, tied in to existing business systems.

(Illustration: Shyam Kumar Prasad)

We live in an age of disruption. Today, nearly every aspect of our professional and personal lives is coloured by unprecedented technological change to which organisations and their leaders need to respond—in fact, it will be key to their ability to successfully compete and thrive.

IT, woven into our very fabric

By using technology, companies are weaving themselves into the very fabric of how people live, according to the global Accenture Technology Vision 2018 Survey. Thanks to emerging technologies, ‘Intelligent Enterprises’ are completely changing the way they do business. Through the use of these tools, organisations are not only meeting their business goals, but also benefiting citizens, communities and society. These businesses are shaping how our societies work and communicate.

Three emerging technologies—Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain—in particular are driving this change. Together they offer vast potential to businesses to rethink the way we do business.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Forrester predicts that those businesses that use AI to uncover new business insights ‘will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less informed peers by 2020’. No wonder AI—with its ability to aid automation, speed and better decision making —is being touted as a magic bullet.

The rapid emergence of AI is being driven by three factors. Thanks to the cloud, huge amounts of computing and processing power are now available on-demand. The data deluge—where 90% of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years—has introduced the critical mass necessary to power the smart algorithms that drive these new capabilities. New AI tools that can easily be integrated into a business to serve as an engine for innovation are now enabling organisations to more easily adopt and benefit from new technologies.

Even at this early point of the adoption by business, there are some great examples of AI-centric innovation. Bajaj Electricals, India’s popular lighting, engineering, electric utility and appliance maker—is using Bajaj Paddy, an AI chatbot to transform its customer interactions.

With 20 million products in warranty, and nearly two billion in use, the company required a cost effective mechanism to help its consumers select products or with smooth installation.
What’s more, the chatbot also provides an effective method for Bajaj Electricals to strengthen relationships with its users.

Internet of Things (IoT)

There are more than 8.4 billion “Things” connected to the internet according to Gartner, up more than 30% from the previous year. The mass amount of information they are creating has the power to revolutionise everything from manufacturing and healthcare to the layout and functioning of entire cities— allowing them to work more efficiently and profitably than ever before.


Blockchain has the power to transform how every industry does business by making interactions more secure, transparent, efficient and cost-effective. Take healthcare as an example: Blockchain can provide immutable records for clinical trials, providing an auditable trail of the data being collected for pharmaceutical companies and regulators, all available instantly from verified participants. Blockchain can also help to guarantee product quality and safety by empowering the tracking of genuine pharmaceutical products from manufacture all the way through to distribution, addressing the scourge of counterfeit drugs—a huge problem in some of the developing economies, including India.

Now let’s consider another example – the auto industry. Auto manufacturers can form a quality-focused blockchain spanning a network of parts suppliers, sub-assembly makers, one quality control/assurance provider, and the public regulatory authority. With such a network, recalling defective parts could be expedited, more effectively.

Using existing systems as the base

As a final thought, these new technologies should not be harnessed in isolation. Importantly, they should be aligned to both business strategy and, ideally, tied in to existing business systems.

In fact, the ninth annual Tech Trends Report by Deloitte points out that those organisations that are establishing a modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform as the foundation for emerging technologies like AI, Blockchain and IoT are becoming more effective and competitive as compared to those that are ‘waiting for technology to mature’.

As individuals, it’s that time of the year when we make new year resolutions. As businesses, what’s your new year resolution going to be? For any enterprise, there are two clear choices in the new year: ‘act now’ by modernising your business and business processes using emerging technologies – especially AI, IoT and Blockchain – or be left behind.

(The writer is regional managing director, Oracle India)

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