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Technology that both save and make money for businesses at the same time (September 2018)

Published September 2018

Technology that both saves and makes money for businesses at the same time.

Infinite Composite Technologies increased new annual sales by 500 000 USD and, at the same time, reduced its annual costs by 250 000 USD.

Domino’s Pizza is using technology in their ordering process so that customers can share their purchase and experience as well as looking at expanding to solve language-related issues by using a voice-activated virtual assistant.

By using technology to reduce printing needs, the University of Houston is saving 100 000 USD per year.

School districts, using IlliniCloud, are saving 30–60% annually on IT costs.

All companies want to save money and increase profit. Some turn to technology or the Internet for solutions, but how do they decide what will work well for their business?

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

In order for me to answer that for a client, I would spend some time observing their operations, work through a research phase, and finally create a report with solutions for their consideration. I could also help roll-out the tech if asked.

For those of you considering turning to technology but are not yet convinced of its potential, let me share some points with you and a few examples of solutions that are cutting costs and giving companies the edge in their fields. I want to give you some inspiration on this important industrial revolution.

I.o.T alone will generate 8 trillion USD in the next decade. For the same thing, IT firm, Cisco, predicts that the I.o.T will save businesses 1.2 trillion in productivity costs alone.

That is big money and it will influence every company owner around the world, either directly or indirectly.

A report I read, from data gathered earlier this year, said that 2 600 Chief Information Officers, contacted during a survey, confirmed a transfer of 18% of their budget into digital transformation, and this is expected to reach 28% by the end of this year.

If that sort of money is spent and shift does not get your attention, look at what the tech giants are doing. Surely, if they are paying attention we should too. Samsung recently spent nearly 5 million USD on buying start-up companies in the virtual reality market alone.

You can also look for signs closer to home. I am personally working on concepts and want to be involved with creating a company that specialises in the development of virtual shopping solutions in South Africa.

I would love a client of mine to mandate me to create an augmented reality app in which their customers can walk into any one of their shops and, using their cell phones with the app, allow them to read other customer references on any of the items on their shelves, or perhaps even display specials. I could also design an in-store local GPS to guide shoppers to what they are looking for instead of running up and down aisles.

How about an app that allows you to show your clients what their new couch or curtains will look like in their lounge before they even buy them?

The applications are so plentiful; it really does get me excited!

These sorts of innovations will make a client’s shopping experience far more exciting, and sales will drain from competitors into my client’s stores.

Let’s talk about some working examples, and there are many. I really did find it challenging to pick which to include in this article.

 

Digital Twins:

For those of you who don’t yet know what a digital twin is, it is a near exact digital visualisation of a physical object, such as a new product, part of a product or even an environment, which also behaves like the real, physical object, but on a computer.

This sort of technology is heavily linked to the Internet of Things, and Gartner predicts that, within the next two decades, half of all large industrial companies will use digital twin technology or applications.

The applications and areas of opportunity are far-reaching, and the results are worth investment.

To name a few:

  • Reduced production time.
  • Reduced production costs.
  • Create entire virtual business models.
  • Tools for sales.
  • Tools for explanation and training.
  • Testing.

Most of this technology, once the data has been gathered, uses special software to render the twin. There are supportive solutions for just about any industry, for example, SAP’s Predictive Engineering Insights or ANSYS 19.1 software.

I expect a variety of companies to compete for this software solution space in the future.

The applications for digital twins will extend far past industries for product development. Already in the medical fraternity, doctors are able to practise operations with virtual apparatuses without the risk of harming a real person.

Exciting stuff.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

 

Smart Farms.

The concept of smart farming.

Imagine if you could see how your farm would virtually behave in different scenarios, for example, a drought. You could use this information to plan irrigation systems or other ways to prepare for possible high-risk situations.

These concepts are already in practice, and there are many suppliers worldwide which offer solutions, like Lely, who is in Maassuis, Netherlands. They offer smart farming solutions.

Another company in Israel, called CropX, offers agriculture analytics.

There is a company called Stara, which has been fitting tractors with I.o.T sensors for some time now.

Crop Metrics are data specialists, and they offer soil moisture probes, which help with recommendations to optimise water use. They also offer Virtual Optimizer Pro, one of their own inventions, which combines multiple water-management technologies with cloud technology, giving support to farmers through a central location centre.

Illuminum Green Houses offer Smart Greenhouses. The lucky farmers of this technology get so many benefits, like getting a message if they leave a window open by mistake, or remotely turn fans on if their greenhouse gets too hot.

There are solutions using satellites that monitor cattle that are about to give birth!

Also, in the sky, we have agricultural drones, such as senseFly eBee SQ or the PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5. These sorts of technologies offer so much support to farmers, such as, but not limited to, irrigation monitoring, vegetation index maps, plant counts, H20 levels, soil temperatures, Topography and 3D mapping, plant height and even water pooling.

Let’s move away from farms and into a different landscape now, a digital one…

 

Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality.
VR and AR for short.

These technologies were produced and made popular in the gaming industry, and were fueled by our desire to have enhanced experiences and entertainment that is out of this world.

For now, these digital worlds are still unable to stimulate all our senses, like taste, smell and touch, but it will get there once there is more investment for development, and once we solve some of the problems, like data download and reducing the high costs of content creation in these areas. We also need better-priced user-interface devices.

For businesses, both VR and AR need to shift its attention and start solving real-life, day-to-day problems to encourage the use of this technology, and perhaps some more investment.

I do predict Augmented Reality becoming mainstream before Virtual Reality, because it piggy-backs off technology we have already started to use, and it costs less to develop the programs.

There is, of course, a very big difference between AR and VR.

Augmented Reality is basically extra information provided to us in our real world, while VR is information provided to us in a virtual world, which we have to enter. Ever see the movie The Matrix? That is VR.

Technically you can explain VR as an artificial real-life situation which is stimulating our senses to make us feel like we are there. An example of this technology is Facebook’s Oculus. AR only enhances our existing reality, for example, a heads-up display on a car windscreen is basically AR.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

The other day, I walked past an estate agency with some of their clients at tables. They were all wearing headsets, and they were looking at properties. They were able to walk around the houses, look into rooms and even go into the gardens, all while sitting in a chair. This is an example of VR, which is made possible with special headsets and software.

Samsung headset gear for VR is about R2 000 or less per headset. This is a reasonable investment for an estate agency and saves clients and agents from having to travel to many properties.

There are many costlier options for headsets, like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Google also has something called the Daydream View, which is a low cost option, but has limited capabilities.

Google’s Cardboard did a very good job at introducing VR and AR technologies to us, but the prize for the real introduction has to go to the little game called Pokémon Go.

Have you heard of Oculus Virtual Speech? This is an app that allows you to do all sorts of wonderful things, for example, training courses at businesses, or even work on being a public speaker.

Virtual classrooms, virtual meetings, you name it. It’s going to become a program that you can download, and put a headset on and experience.

Walmart used similar technology to train its staff on the shopping situations around the Black Friday sale. Even if we shift our imagination away from business to home situations, think about how we can help people who are stuck in bed due to medical reasons. Using VR, they can leave their beds and explore the world again.

For new business production managers, two big names to perhaps become aware of are ARKit and ARCore, which are AR platforms created by Apple and Google, which allow for AR app creation. Products like Google Glass Enterprise, which can be used to improve efficiency over business processes, for example, can be used to track factory workers on the floor.

There will be several business software suites in the near future. Another example is the recently-announced Toshiba AR solution called dynaEdge AR Smartglasses.

We can, within the next decade, expect to experience VR cafés, with real coffee, but VR games or even books.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

There will be VR dating services, which, of course, will be safer, or VR Sports and VR holidays. With VR movies, we can star in films instead of just watching them.

Now is the time for businesses to get on board with this sort of technology, before it becomes mainstream.

When you start working on a concept or opportunities for your business, bear these points in mind. Technology, in order for it to have good business results, must solve a problem for your client, not just offer a novelty. Cost for development will be influenced by the location and information that the user is supposed to get and how you're going to provide this experience. It is worth doing some research. There are many service providers who have programs already in the market, for example, AppReal-VR.

I do consult on solutions, and if I had the time, could write for hours and hours about technologies that are being used, and those yet to be used. Here are some bullet points of areas a company owner can focus on as starting points to investigate reducing costs or increasing profit:

  • Communications, e.g.: Wi-Fi to make calls and new VoIP systems.
  • Marketing and access to clients. Easier to be found, or used to push products. Tech does open new client markets and helps you learn more about clients’ buying trends.
  • Apps, apps and more apps…
  • Inventory management. So many solutions here.
  • Storage online. Paper and printing gone for ever!
  • Monitoring. An example is the smart-metre market which is booming.
  • Reactive technologies. Don’t wait for issues to rear their horrible heads. Less downtime!
  • Surveillance and security. Something very important in South Africa.
  • Wages/labour savings. Yes, automation is not always great for people’s jobs, but it is an unstoppable force. Rather get control over it.
  • Reporting. Simplification. Better analysis. Real-time information.
  • Transparency and project management tools. Use technology to be a truly streamlined business, and run a real open-book company with less effort and risk. This helps with reputation and compliance, and there are so many solutions like the ARIS Express and i-Sight.
  • React to industry crises faster.
  • Bypassing red tape. The Internet and tech are not always governed like the human equivalent.
  • Easier to accept payments and make them from new markets around the world.
  • Reducing office environmental running costs. Green technology is a major factor for larger corporations. Waste management and power solutions are areas most businesses can make some improvements on.

Please feel free to send any questions or comments. My other articles are at: http://www.jeanpierremurraykline.co.za/mediaarticlesinfoseospecialist.html

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#technology
#illinicloud
#digitaltwin
#smartfarming
#virtualreality
#augmentedreality

Published September 2018

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