From Metaverse to Hostile Tech: Four Tech Trends for Business

The pace of technological change is rapid and it is difficult for companies to decide which concepts and methods to rely on. What are the current macro trends that can provide competitive advantage? And what might the first steps towards implementation look like?

1. Hostile Tech – from criminal to accidental

“Hostile” technology is usually associated with criminal activity, such as ransomware and data theft. However, users may also view legal and often generally accepted activities such as advertising and customer targeting as a threat. Additionally, there are unintended biases in machine learning algorithms or systems. Hostile Tech continues to be the center of attention, with a growing potential for conflict. Consumer concerns about the negative effects of the use of artificial intelligence, advertising and marketing technologies are growing, as are criticisms of how social media channels shape and influence societal debates. Increasing regulation around the collection, storage and use of data, such as in the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), reflects consumers’ critical attitude and desire for data protection.

These developments offer a clear positioning advantage for companies who, on the one hand, invest in protection against deliberate attacks by hackers and, on the other hand, ensure that customers’ wishes are respected by avoiding dubious targeting. This contributes to customer confidence and promotes a positive image. Protection against cyberattacks can be optimized through the secure delivery of software throughout its lifecycle. AI-based solutions offer advanced protection against cyberattacks, but should not be seen as a panacea. At the same time, companies should develop a strong framework for their data ethics and only collect necessary customer data.

2. The human-machine experience: the metaverse is coming

The way we interact with the digital world is changing. Devices are enhanced by gesture and voice interaction. The Metaverse, a new digital reality based on AR and VR technology, is currently on everyone’s lips. The global Metaverse market will reach over $800 billion by 2028, and more and more players are entering the market. New platforms will bring new types of monetization for businesses – even beyond pure advertising. While the metaverse is a bit further away, technologies like NLP (natural language processing) are already widely used, for example in customer service. Augmented reality concepts that connect the real world to the virtual world are multiplying, for example when buying clothes or furniture.

Companies wishing to rely on these new technologies must acquire the special skills required in software development in good time. In doing so, they must always keep in mind that technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality are fundamentally changing the user experience and the design process. In addition to consumer applications, there will also be many possible new uses in the B2B arena. Trainings and conferences are the classic examples, but consider scenarios like smart drones in agriculture.

3. Sustainable IT becomes imperative

Consumers, governments and investors are demanding that companies take greater responsibility for the environment. Sustainability has become a business imperative. The pressure is growing: when the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) comes into force in 2023, small businesses with 250 or more employees will also be required to report on their sustainability activities.

Technology is a major contributor to climate change, and many tech companies are trying to address this issue, whether by building energy-efficient data centers, using energy from renewable sources, or analyzing their suppliers and their supply chains. Technology can also help make our daily lives more sustainable, for example by supporting smart cities. Here, technology can be used to optimize traffic to reduce pollution.

Companies must continuously monitor and measure the environmental costs of their products and activities. This allows them to quickly initiate effective measures that reduce resource consumption and therefore costs. Green cloud optimization for data centers, for example, is an important step towards greater sustainability. Ideally, a data center is powered by local renewable energy and uses infrastructure software that minimizes power consumption. Tech companies also need to ensure that sustainability principles are adhered to throughout the supply chain. All measures for more sustainability must be transparently communicated to customers to clarify the high priority.

4. Partnership with AI

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are on the rise across industries. Use cases range from automating day-to-day business processes to assisting in strategic decision-making. Companies have many opportunities to develop productive partnerships between their employees and AI.

The AI ​​market is booming. IDC predicts global sales of over $500 billion for AI solutions and services by 2024. But Germany is lagging behind. According to a current Bitkom survey, three-quarters of German companies still see themselves as AI laggards.

For their AI initiatives, companies need to carefully define KPIs and regularly measure progress. This is the only way to reliably assess whether AI is delivering real business value. AI applications require access to data and optimal data quality. Companies should therefore invest in a powerful data management system in advance.

When using AI, it’s important for companies to understand when automation should be the goal and when empowering with AI makes sense. AI can fully automate repetitive processes, increasing productivity. While this may eliminate jobs, it also creates new roles that require more judgment and creativity. In other cases, augmenting AI is the right choice, with humans and machines taking on combined or complementary tasks. It usually involves strategic decisions that require experience and foresight. An example is AI-supported product development or dynamic simulations for complex scenario planning such as climate change.

Businesses need to take the responsibility they bear when using AI solutions very seriously and consider the ethical implications. AI enters complex and sensitive domains like finance and medical diagnostics, and decisions enabled by AI can have unintended negative consequences.

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