Artificial Intelligence and Analytics: Increasingly over the next year, artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics will become just part of normal business operations. In light of this, the challenge for businesses in 2018 will be to attract the talent with the right skills for this new way of working. Large ‘traditional’ organisations will be competing with agile, ‘exciting’ new start-ups and the Google and Facebook’s of the world, meaning, businesses will need to position themselves as attractive employers if they are to find the right people with the skills to facilitate the new business model that incorporates AI and data analytics.
3D printing: 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) will continue to be more important, especially when it comes to the sale of spare parts and after sales service of businesses. The key here will be the process by which customers print components and how manufacturers manage digital rights for parts. Businesses will need to think about how they adjust their business models, similar to music and film streaming services, so that there is a continued service which enables the printing of spare parts should it be required.
Engaging via voice: Voice assistants were clearly the new kid on the block in 2017 that made the big time, with Alexa, GoogleHome and Siri all growing in popularity amongst consumers. With new ways to talk to devices and products, we expect more manufacturers and service providers this year to use voice as an avenue to reach its customers directly, and provide feedback via more human systems of engagement.
Blockchain: In a time where trust is hard to come by, blockchain will play an important role in building that trust, across an increasingly complex supply chain. It will enable an ecosystem of things to trade seamlessly and autonomously.This will include transactions of power and energy generation and distribution within smart grids, but also supply chain security in the logistics part of manufacturing especially where products are IoT enabled.
IoT: As chip sizes continue to reduce, and low power networks such as SigFox and NB IoT become more available, both capital and operational costs will continue to fall, meaning the cost of IoT solutions will reduce, and more products will be embedded with the solution as a result driving further scales of economy. This in turn will continue to drive new business models and the push to servitisation – i.e. pay per use or pay for availability, which will allow companies to establish a relationship with customers and engage with them directly. This will be a significant change in business models and the supply chains, and require a new set of skills and capabilities from organisations if they are to orchestrate these new avenues of business.
Security, Security, Security: As IoT and blockchain becomes more prevalent in the manufacturing and supply chain business, it will be imperative that security is embedded on the devices/products within systems and technology rather than as just an add-on. Security needs to be incorporated in an organisations core, and play a fundamental part of the processes and polices to protect the systems and data. A denial of service attack when a business is a service, is in fact a denial of a business to operate.