Each year, new IT trends arise, but they are typically not too surprising or revolutionary. However, this year, three innovations have matured to a point where they are beginning to impact how businesses operate. What’s more, these technologies have the potential to transform the IT landscape in the very near future.

Here are the three emerging IT trends and how they will affect businesses:

1. Artificial Intelligence Will Start to Change How Businesses Operate

Artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses a variety of technologies designed to create computer systems that can accomplish tasks that would normally require human intelligence. For example, computer systems might be designed to:

  • React to visual, audio, and other sensory input (robotics)
  • Understand and respond to human language (natural language processing)
  • Learn without being explicitly programmed (machine learning)

In the short term, companies will increasingly use AI to automate key components in business processes in order to improve their efficiency and reduce costs, according to AI experts at Tractica. However, experts are expecting a fundamental shift in AI’s role in the long term (5 to 10 years). AI is predicted to move from being an automation engine that improves business processes to a real-time decision engine that informs businesses about ways they can adapt and innovate.

2. Voice-Controlled Technologies Will Become Increasingly Popular

Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home give people the freedom to access online information and services using their voice rather than their smartphones and computers. With the popularity of these devices beginning to soar, Gartner predicts that 30 percent of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. So, the next time you update your company website, it would be a good idea to add keywords that are optimized for voice-activated searches (e.g., add keywords that use more natural phrasing).

Screenless web browsing is only the tip of the iceberg, though. Other voice-controlled solutions will also become prevalent. For example, chatbots — programs that can understand speech and communicate with people through email or messaging services — are expected to take off in the next five years, according to a 2016 study by TechEmergence.

3. Companies Will Begin to Abandon Their Own Mobile Apps

In theory, it makes sense for businesses to develop their own mobile apps. Businesses can use them to target local customers, collect valuable feedback from them, and provide better customer support. However, companies are beginning to discover that their mobile apps are not delivering the results they expected. The sheer number of available apps is partially to blame. With 2 million apps in both Apple’s and Google’s app stores, businesses’ apps often go unnoticed.

The lack of results is prompting some businesses to abandon their mobile apps. In fact, Gartner predicts that 20 percent of businesses will no longer offer apps by 2019. If you have been toying with developing a mobile app, you might consider using a different marketing tool.

Keep These Trends in Mind as You Plan

Although it will be years before the full effects of these three IT trends will be felt, it is important you keep them in mind when making business plans. We can help you understand your options as well as answer any questions you might have about these three IT trends.