Post #24: Beyond the hype. Live from TechXLR8

Now in its fourth year, London Tech Week is where a who’s who of movers and shakers in the industry descend on the UK’s capital for a series of events. The TechXLR8  conference forms part of this. Hosted in London’s docklands area, titans such as Amazon and Google rub shoulders with exciting start-ups. Your author attended. While there was no shortage of noise around the usual topics of AI, 5G and the like, we came away with the distinct impression that two of these buzz expressions – the Internet of Things and Augmented/Virtual Reality – have begun, for the first time, to move away from the hype phase.

We met with an executive from IBM who highlighted that “the connectedness of everything is transforming how businesses and the world work.” In other words, the Internet of Things (‘IOT’) has evolved simply to imply that more data insights can now be derived from more ‘things,’ allowing for better business decisions to be made. If something can be connected, it will. IBM shared information which showed C-suite business leaders now rank the IOT as their number-one investment priority in technology. IBM went on to mention some tangible examples of businesses (including L’Oréal and Jaguar) now adopting IOT solutions and deriving clear benefits, particularly in terms of improved product defect analysis, lower energy consumption and better space utilisation.

We heard a similar message from a Microsoft executive who described mixed reality (i.e. the combination of the ‘real world’ and an augmented/virtual one) as “the next wave of computing.” Why? Simply, because such technology allows users to “enhance cognition” through “blending the physical and digital worlds.” Beyond this arguable hyperbole, Microsoft also shared some palpable examples of businesses already using its technology. CBRE, the real estate business, has deployed Microsoft mixed reality services in 12 different areas across its group and has seen marked improvements in productivity especially in areas such as remote assist collaboration and training. According to Microsoft, further technology enhancements (for example, in terms of headset comfort and vision) would help “move the category forward.”

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