CDW Executive SummIT: Thinking about the Future of Technology

Slow evolution, with occasional moments of disruption

The advances that organizations see in their technology tools may not always be revolutionary, but even small improvements add up over time to represent a giant leap forward. Andy Eccles, CDW’s senior vice president of integrated technology solutions, noted that one of the most popular new products at a recent consumer electronics event was a keyboard that offers a “clickier” feel than other keyboards. It was a small improvement, but one that users appreciated.

“You can assume again that the technology will just continually evolve,” Eccles said. “It’s always going to get 1 percent better, and we’re still going to appreciate the constant marginal gains and progressive improvements that technology makes.”

On the other hand, technology sometimes makes much faster progress. Steven Darrah, director of national solution providers for Intel, recounted an interaction he had with a large retailer who could not get clear visibility into whether products were being placed appropriately across a store’s shelves. Darrah asked if robots could be used to take pictures of shelves at night and give the retailer’s employees a complete view of where all the products were in the store—an unheard-of notion at the time.

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“Six months later, we strapped cameras to robots,” Darrah said. “They were running up and down the aisles of the store.”

Only a few years after that, technology vendors showed off new inventory monitoring robots at retail conferences. History, Darrah notes, shows how quickly innovations can go from idea to execution. And the pace of innovation will only continue to accelerate, he says: “The least amount of transformation we will ever see is today.”

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LEARN MORE: Find out how retailers can use technology to tackle supply chain issues.

The future is coming for AI

Many speakers at the event highlighted the emergence of artificial intelligence as a game-changing technology.

“Everything we do is designed to increase your revenue or reduce your costs. AI is one of those things that does both,” said John Fanelli, vice president of enterprise software at NVIDIA. “There is a use case for AI in every industry.”

The potential of AI is almost limitless. Technologies based on AI and machine learning are already disrupting a number of industries, such as retail, transport and fast food.

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“If Burger King adopts AI, it’s time for the rest of us to do so,” Darrah said.

Dex Hunter-Torricke, vice president of global communications and public engagement for the Meta Oversight Board, explained how AI is poised to take over workloads in industries that require significant expertise, such as healthcare and law.

As organizations explore the possibilities of AI and other new technologies, they must prepare for the future. “The world is drastically unprepared for the next wave of disruption,” Hunter-Torricke said.

Halen bookmarked this page for articles and videos from the event, follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and participate in the official event conversation on Twitter at #JoinCDW.



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