Kathy Gibson at Dell EMC Forum, Sandton – New technologies are going well beyond helping businesses to improve or change their processes – they are fundamentally changing the business itself.

According to Nigel Moulton, EMEA chief technology officer: converged platforms and solutions division at Dell EMC, this means all businesses are going to have to look at embracing new and innovative technologies that are now becoming mainstream.

“For instance, the business case for Internet of Things (IoT) is everything,” he says. “IoT can have a profound impact on just about every business.”

He cites the example or Aero Farms, a vertical farming operation that is talking about using IoT and analytics to improve crop yields by a staggering 100%.

“Think about IoT in healthcare,” Moulton adds. “To a large extent, we are already there with wearables that monitor heart rate, temperature and much more.”

IoT can be used in any application where something can be measured, monitored and made more accurate, he says. “Can I derive a set of results that allow me to be more accurate? And if I can, will that offer the opportunity to improve the process? Because then it’s a use case for IoT.”

IoT proponents often talk about the concept of the digital twin, where a digital version of something or someone represents the physical.

Moulton believes this concept can be extended.

On the one hand, he says, there is the digital twin that represents a person. “This is a holographic representation of the person who can be in one place, but projected to another at the same time.”

The second iteration, which is starting to gain ground now, is the digital mapping of physical infrastructure.

“For example, you could have a digital model of the road network. If you have to do work on the road, you can use modally to predict the best way to reroute people; or to predict the most optimal time t do the work.

“This type of digital twin lets you simulate and predict based on real-world data.”

Another technology that is fast gaining traction, and that threatens to disrupt a lot of industries, is artificial intelligence (AI).

“AI is about teaching a machine to think like a human,” Moulton explains. “We are already seeing this in advanced chatbots, some of which are advanced enough to respond exactly like a human.”

AI has allowed voice to become the primary interface for communicating with computer devices, he adds. “We already have AI assistants with no screen or keyboard, which we interface with using natural language.”

What’s apparent about  many of the new technologies that are about to go mainstream is that they are relatively new. “These changes are geometric in nature – they are not linear,” Moulton says.

“We don’t think geometrically, but we are teaching machines to do so. This means machines are able to tackle mathematical problems that are out of our league.”