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As an industry veteran and entrepreneur, I field a lot of questions from businesses, organizations and individuals about what to expect next in the world of business technology — whether that’s new hardware, software, services, etc. And when asked that question at the moment, there’s but one answer to that (multi) million dollar question:

As an industry veteran and entrepreneur, I field a lot of questions from businesses, organizations and individuals about what to expect next in the world of business technology — whether that’s new hardware, software, services, etc. And when asked that question at the moment, there’s but one answer to that (multi) million dollar question:
Intelligent apps.

I’m sure you’re wondering right now, “what makes an app ‘intelligent’? Aren’t all good mobile apps ‘intelligent’?”

To be fair, a designation like “intelligent apps” might be purely semantic in a denotative way, but the classification does have some significant connotative implications that set apart these newer, more advanced, more capable apps from their forebears.

So to begin: What exactly is an intelligent app?

To reference Gartner’s
recent industry trend report, intelligent apps are those that integrate advanced capabilities like virtual personal assistants and machine learning to make the app faster, more powerful and imminently more useful/profitable. According to Gartner, these advances take the form of:

  1. Advanced analytics
  2. AI-powered and increasingly autonomous business process, and
  3. AI-powered immersive, conversations and continuous interfaces

While virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are the lowest-hanging fruit and easiest to understand technology mentioned explicitly— with Siri, OK Google, Alexa and Cortana invading our everyday lives — there are huge implications beyond VPAs (even though those VPAs will pay monster dividends via efficiency boons like automated email prioritization, etc.).

Gartner does go on to highlight that the gains to be seen from VPAs aren’t the only thing to look forward to if you’re a business owner or soon-to-be-app-developer. Gartner predicts that every “existing software category, from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP, will be infused with AI-enabled capabilities.

So to take that beyond next-generation interfaces and “cool” factor — imagine what a business benefit an intelligent app could be to your industry if implemented correctly? Let’s say you employ multiple data architects and analysts to make sense of the data your app generates (not a bad idea to be sure). Now, what if you were able to harness IBM’s Watson or some other AI/machine-learning/neural network to scan that data securely, swiftly and seamlessly, analyze the data, spot trends and surface recommendations to you before anyone has to write a query? And what if that integrated feature-set was able to learn over time to better anticipate your questions and needs, and simply offers up that data before you even have to ask for it? Or makes a recommendation on how to change a process or offering to make use of the data it’s constantly crunching on your behalf? That app would be doing some seriously heavy lifting on its own behalf at that point.

The same ideas exist for business processes. Reporting can be not only automated, but supercharged. Security checks and best practices can be removed from error-prone humans. Customer data can be mined and pricing/inventory adjusted on the fly where appropriate. CRM’s can become far less labor intensive for sales reps if a truly capable VPA is baked into the software itself.

As businesses start to leverage these advanced computational possibilities into real competitive technological advantages, you’ll see major separation from industry-leading, next-gen apps to your run-of-the-mill ones. By 2018, “Gartner expects most of the world’s largest 200 companies to exploit intelligent apps and utilize the full toolkit of big data and analytics tools to refine their offers and improve customer experience.”

As such, you would do well to think on how the big advancements in computing power could trickle down into a usable form for you and your business/idea — making use of them might just be what sets your signal apart from the noise.

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