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 over time come to represent a big step 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 offered a more “clicky” feel than other keyboards. It was a small improvement, but one that users appreciated.

“You can again assume that technology will continue to evolve,” Eccles said. “It’s going to be 1 percent better all the time, and we’re still going to value the continuous marginal gains and progressive improvements that the technology makes.”

On the other hand, technology sometimes progresses much faster. Steven Darrah, director of national solutions providers for Intel, recounted an interaction he had with a major retailer that was unable to gain clear visibility into whether products were placed appropriately on store shelves. Darrah asked if robots could be used to take pictures of the shelves at night and give the retailer’s employees a comprehensive look at where all the products were in the store – a notion that was unheard of at the time.

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

Until a few years later, technology vendors were showing off new inventory monitoring robots at retail conferences. The story, Darrah noted, shows how quickly innovations can go from idea to execution. And the pace of innovation will only continue to accelerate, he says: “Today is the smallest amount of transformation we’ll ever see.”

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LEARN MORE: Learn how retailers can leverage technology to tackle supply chain issues.

AI is Coming in the Future

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

“Everything we do is aimed at increasing your revenue or reducing 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, transportation and fast food.

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“When Burger King adopts AI, it’s time for the rest of us to follow suit,” said Darrah.

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

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

Hold on this page marked for articles and videos from the event, follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and join the event’s official Twitter chat at #JoinCDW.


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