The growing impact of emerging technologies

Amid a wave of hype around emerging technologies three specific trends are showing the potential to help businesses transform the way they operate, according to a series of research briefs published by CompTIA, the technology industry association.

To varying degrees, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) are staking out a more prominent role in the digital operations of organisations, the publications reveal.

“Though the majority of businesses are still on the sidelines, use cases for each of these solutions are beginning to emerge,” said Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA.

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“When you consider that these are not standalone products that you plug in and play, but building blocks to automate, digitise or streamline operations, the impacts they are already having illustrate their potential.”

CompTIA surveyed some 700 business professionals at U.S. companies to gauge their awareness and usage of AI, blockchain and VR/AR.

VR has the greatest awareness among companies aware of the trend (74% of respondents), but blockchain is having the biggest impact today (43%).

Artificial Intelligence

One in four companies are making regular use of AI. Just over half of current users have AI deployed in machine learning within Internet of Things implementations and IT infrastructures.

As Robinson noted, “Components such as firewalls and routers are now enhanced with AI functionality, especially as software-defined networking becomes more prevalent.”

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Early adopters are also using AI in virtual assistants (52% of current AI users); as suggestions in workflow tools (52%); in the automation of processes and tasks (48%); and as a natural language interface for workplace tools (44%).


Early adopters of blockchain are using it to confirm digital identities or maintain an audit trail for compliance. In fact, 52% of companies surveyed cite greater security as a driver for considering blockchain.

Common business practices such as asset management and contract agreements may also benefit from blockchain, which has the potential to remove unneeded layers to streamline these processes. Firms are also exploring the use of blockchain for distributed data storage.

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Virtual reality/augmented reality

As both VR and AR mature, the two will likely merge in applications that fall under the label “mixed reality”, according to Robinson.

Currently, one in five companies has a VR/AR initiative underway, while a slightly higher percentage (23%) said they are experimenting with VR/AR pilots.

The most common current use is in employee training, cited by 62% of early adopters. Interestingly, half of early adopters are using VR/AR in customer engagements. Other early uses include virtual meetings (47%), R&D simulations (45%) and on-the-job information – delivering information to an employee while they are engaged with a task (43%).

Related: Are emerging technologies set to transform business?

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...