The Future of Technology: What It Means for the Commercial Integrator

The world has made more technological progress in the past five years than it has made in the five decades before that, and integrators will have to master the technological change that is driving the future.

Daniel Newman

There has always been a bit of a juxtaposition between simple and custom integration. If what we do is too simple, then who will be willing to pay the big bucks for our work?

However, spend a day as a fly on the wall in any room where an integrator has failed to make it simple and you can listen to executive after executive curse out their touch panel because all they want to do is display their gosh darn powerpoint.

The truth is, simple is the ultimate elegance AND it’s also a great challenge in the work of an integrator. When the systems are done in a way where they are truly simple there is usually an immense amount of work, customization and programming genius involved.

To this day, this has been the case, and for many projects this still is representative of our industry. Tomorrow, however, this all may change.

What Lies Ahead

The world in 2001 didn’t quite live up to Kubricks “Space Odyssey.” We haven’t yet made the trip to Jupiter and the machine hasn’t taken our world over, yet.

But like so many dystopian, future-forward movies, inside of every vision of the future lies a little bit of truth.

In 1970, had we pictured 2016, we may not have envisioned walking up and down the street having people staring into a pocket size device that was exponentially more powerful than the PC, served as your telephone and rolodex, all the while loaded with applications that connected us to friends, family, news and media around the world.

Furthermore, we would never have guessed that people would be incessantly staring at these devices chasing around invisible Pokemon or connecting these devices to headsets that allowed us to virtually immerse ourselves in travel, sports and gaming.

Few can predict the future, but I’m pretty certain most of us didn’t see all of this coming.

Where does the industry stand today? Find out in CI’s 2017 State of the Industry Report

The aforementioned is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the last year we have seen the rapid proliferation of Artificial Intelligence driven chatbots that leave us unsure whether we are talking to humans or machines.

Uber has put automobiles on the road, driving around people, that require no drivers. We have installed objects like Echo and Google Home into our homes and these objects can now listen to us, search for us, shop for us and control our environments.

As laws about data, privacy and the ethics of artificial intelligence continue to evolve, we may even see these devices become listening devices in our homes for big brands willing to pay enough for our offline data and law enforcement looking to predict and solve crimes; “Minority Report” ring any bells?

The Impact on Commercial Integrator

It’s easy to read all of this and say “So what,” this isn’t affecting us. We are commercial integrators and AI, Chatbots, IoT, Mobile aren’t core to what we do.

In many ways that statement is fair, because to date those technologies, besides mobile, is true. However, I want you to picture something.

You walk into the corporate meeting room. There is a display on the wall. It’s large, has a thin profile and is wireless (except for power). This device can instantly connect to any mobile device that comes into the room, simply by proximity, and can be fully controlled using voice commands.

The device gets smarter as it is used more often and it begins to know its users’ behaviors as well as their voices so it can even predictively launch applications as well as read apps like calendars to understand the technological needs of a meeting. 

Three team members enter the room with you. You say, “launch the meeting” and your collaboration suite like Cisco Spark or Microsoft Teams launches, calls all the meeting attendees anywhere they are and instantly, with no control system, no wires, no installed infrastructure and no appliances, there are 8 people staring at one another from 3 states 4 countries and 2 continents.

To some extent, this sounds like the future, but really it isn’t. This is today. This is the way AI, IoT, Deep Learning and Mobility are impacting our industry. Sure, we can continue to sell the “Panel” that gets hung on the wall, but so can Amazon.

If integrators see these trends as opportunities and partner with their vendors to advance adoption, and leverage the potential, they can emerge into the future with a new subset of offerings that meet new customer expectations.

The beauty of all of this technological advancement is it is a road paved with opportunity.

If integrators see these trends as opportunities and partner with their vendors to advance adoption, and leverage the potential, they can emerge into the future with a new subset of offerings that meet new customer expectations while embracing the power of technology.

If we continue to run from the future, we may see yet a few more good years of traditional integration projects, but I am confident that time will come to an end as we know it.

From the time 2001 was made in 1968 until 2001, we had more than 3 decades to see what would come to fruition.

However, we have made more technological progress in the past five years than we made in the five decades before that. And guess what, it will only get faster.

This means that for “Integrators” simple must take on a new meaning. If it doesn’t, the future may not be as bright as one would hope, because the elegance of simplicity will no longer lie in the complexity of our programming, but our ability to master the technological change that is driving the future.

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About the Author

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I am a principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. I spend my time researching, analyzing and providing the world’s best and brightest companies with insights as to how digital transformation, disruption, innovation and the experience economy are changing how business is done. Bringing together the technology layer with the human layer, I seek to solve the biggest challenges that companies have today; how to grow, scale, change and adapt to a world where technology and media shift at breakneck speed. So what does this mean? It means that I spend my life learning about what drives people to adopt new technology so I can share those secrets with companies that are ready to take their business to the next level. From keynoting on the world’s largest stages to weekly insights on Forbes, MarketWatch and our owned media properties, my goal is to provide our clients with what they need to know to out innovate and turn disruption from threat, into a business model for success.

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