From left to right: Ted Smith, vice-president of engineering and operations, Cogeco Peer1; Douglas Heitzman, practice leader of blockchain, Burnie's Group; Stan Klebanoff, business development manager, ViewSonic Canada; Jim Love, chief information officer, IT World Canada.

Published: June 28th, 2019

The convergence of five disruptive technologies will transform business but few companies really know where to start.  That was the consensus of the audience at the the recent Brace for Impact event facilitated by Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada.  The event included a panel with experts from  experts from Cogeco Peer 1, ViewSonic and the Burnie Group.

Douglas Heintzman, practice leader of blockchain at the Burnie Group, noted the four most disruptive technologies in the current industry: 5G, blockchain, AI manufacturing, and virtual reality. Although each of the fields have seen massive advancement and garnered research interest, there are goals and misconceptions to overcome.

“AI is actually not really good at solving problems, it’s good at solving tasks,” said Heintzman.

Currently, there are two types of AI solutions, he explained during the event. The ones we are used to are considered as narrow AI, which can do one specific task really well. The holy grail for AI is actually general AI, where it can solve complex, compound tasks and understand fuzzy commands just as a human would.


Additionally, Heintzman talked about the importance of 5G, the next generation networking infrastructure, which has been a hotbed for debate among businesses on ways it can generate value. Intelligent transportation and infrastructure, as well as remote surgery, are some of the obvious examples he said.

But the impact these emerging technologies have on not only on the business, but the people working there, cannot be overlooked, stressed Heintzman. When electricity completely changed manufacturing, big, multistory factory plants with steam engines were replaced with single story factories and introduced much more efficient assembly lines, he explained. It was a significant transition period for people working in the industry.

“I think that’s one of the things we have to be aware of. How do we adopt these things and predict what the impacts are going to be? Maybe more importantly, how do we develop a culture that is agile enough to start dealing with the unforeseen consequences? It’s both terrifying and really exciting to think about.”

IT World Canada CIO Jim Love and Cindy Jordan-Ford, vice-president and general manager for Cogeco Peer 1 Latin and American. Photo from Twitter.

Is it worth the headache to make the transition? Of course it is

Stan Klebanoff, business development manager at ViewSonic Canada, asked one of the other burning questions of the day – how does 5G affect the bottom line? “Is it going to make me more money? Is it going to save me more money? Or is it going to prevent me from going out of business?” he asked.

He pointed to some photography companies’ strong reservations towards selling Inkjet printers over film, which was a big revenue stream more than a decade ago. It took years for them to see finally see the light and adopt the technology. While people have their arguments against today’s emerging technologies, Klebanoff said he’s confident it won’t take long for today’s businesses to embrace the power of chattering devices and AI making sense of all the noise.

Heintzman agreed.

“Look at the way that Amazon went from being a book vendor, to having a whole bunch more products, to being an enabler of marketplaces, to suddenly being a hosting provider… and that’s a software business, not a retail business,” said Heintzman. “The knowledge economy is dissolved, because we just have so much freedom of information running around.”

He told a story about a container shipping company, which collected enormous volumes of data on container movement and conditions, eventually came to value the data higher than the containers themselves.

“I think one of the very first strategic questions that we ask with our clients, is that fundamental data question,” said Heintzman. “Do you have access to the physical quality data? Is it formatted in the right ways? And if it’s not, how do I get there?”

 

Disclaimer: Brace for Impact was hosted by IT World Canada



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