MIT Technology Review made some waves about a technology innovation many thought would go big and keep getting bigger: Artificial intelligence (AI) may not be the limitless revelation its hype would have you believe. Go ahead—let your collective gasp ease the initial shock of such a statement.
In all seriousness, the article doesn’t necessarily dismiss the potential for AI altogether, but the tech may have already found itself in a sizable rut. AI is only now bearing the fruit of research done decades ago, and while that statement may not earn as much attention as the previous one, its implications are just as unsettling. The AI used in almost every consumer technology you’re bombarded with is actually based on science from the same era that brought such gems as parachute pants and “Hammer Time.”
Computers are only now getting to the point where they can support—from a hardware perspective—the neural networks behind AI. The shock comes from the fact that we haven’t necessarily been achieving modern breakthroughs in AI but rather applying modern hardware to decades-old breakthroughs.
Know the limits of technology innovation
What’s the problem here? For starters, you may soon find yourself with a calculator powerful enough to handle the most complex AI applications, but you’d still be using it to figure out the name of that fun jam on the radio. In fact, even today’s AI-equipped, autonomous cars are all but useless when they encounter a new situation. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon AI altogether.
Yes, it’s easy to get blinded by hype, which may result in completely giving up on a technology when the first challenges arise, but don’t be so quick to dismiss technology innovation in your office. Here are a few helpful guidelines to make sure office innovation doesn’t pass you by.
1. Take in the whole picture
When courting that flashy new Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, make sure you understand both what the tech is capable of now and how that might change three months or three years down the road. More importantly, how would these changes apply to your environment?
Take smartphones. In their infancy, many struggled to draft useful BYOD policies. If these organizations had the foresight to understand potential productivity and mobility boosts smartphones would soon offer, they could’ve saved themselves a few policy rewrites. Today, many employees use their phones in the office—and now that everyone is intimately aware of just how much of a game changer they can be for business mobility, IT teams need to get ahead of the security implications of extra endpoints on the network—and shut down the potential for shadow IT.
2. Avoid the flashy lure
It’s easy to get carried away when you hear about hot, new tech and you’ve got unused budget to burn. Don’t give in! Well, give in a little bit, but at least take the time to consider the scope of any new tech’s fit in your environment. Introducing one new technology innovation that accomplishes what you need without added maintenance or management is worth taking on; introducing new tech that also requires new software considerations, active maintenance, and protection because it opens up new network vulnerabilities is not.
Looking at a new printer fleet? Don’t get hyper-focused on the printing aspects alone. You can get bundled services by investing in a fleet that not only fulfills your printing needs but also eases your security burden. Things like self-healing and auto-patching may seem small, but investing in tech that carries benefits on a greater scale—security, in this case—can save you money in the long run.
3. Don’t be afraid to wait
Technology innovations carry a certain allure, which is probably why you’re in the business in the first place. Unboxing and fiddling with new tech can bring you back to Christmas morning as a child, opening up that sweet SNES. Alas, sometimes it is better to practice patience.
Just as AI had to wait until computing hardware caught up with its brilliance, if the potential benefits of a given technology are what you’re basing your decision on, it might be best to wait. You wouldn’t deploy a new firewall that might someday excel at filtering traffic, right? Make sure you’re not putting the cart before the horse, and invest only in tech innovations that work for what your business needs now. Otherwise, you risk losing some of that hard-won CIO confidence—and maybe a little of next year’s budget.
We live in a world rife with technology innovation. What a time to be alive, no? Heed the above guidelines while considering new tech in your environment and you’ll be well on your way to a cutting-edge environment that’s both useful and practical. You might even get to unwrap a few new presents this year, too.