Oct 27 2022

CDW Executive SummIT: Thinking about the Future of Technology

Imagination and foresight are necessary for organizations to deal with IT disruptions.

Imagination is the starting point for the technological advances we’ll see in the future. As organizations look to address new problems and gain an advantage over competitors, imagination is an essential element for the next-generation tools that will help tackle these challenges, said Christine A. Leahy, president and CEO of CDW.

“Imagination is the spark that ignites possibility,” Leahy said, speaking at the CDW Executive SummIT: Making IT a Reality. “To advance, we need imagination. To grow, we need imagination. To transform, we need imagination.”

Leahy and several other IT industry leaders who spoke at the summit in Chicago foresee a future in which technology is constrained only by the limits of imagination, but organizations looking to take advantage of IT evolution must be prepared to do so.

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Slow Evolution, with Occasional Moments of Disruption

The advances that organizations see in their technology tools may not always be revolutionary, but even small improvements add up over time to represent a major leap forward. Andy Eccles, CDW’s senior vice president of integrated technology solutions, noted that one of the most popular new products at a recent consumer electronics event was a keyboard that offered a “clickier” feel than other keyboards. It was a minor improvement, but one that users appreciated.

“You can assume again that technology will just continually evolve,” Eccles said. “It's going to get 1 percent better all the time, and we will still value the constant marginal gains and progressive improvements that technology makes.”

On the other hand, technology sometimes makes much faster advances. Steven Darrah, director of national solution providers for Intel, recounted an interaction he had with a major retailer who couldn’t gain clear visibility into whether products were placed appropriately across a store’s shelves. Darrah asked if robots could be used to take pictures of shelves at night and give the retailer’s employees a comprehensive look at where all the products were in the store — an unheard-of notion at the time.

“Six months later, we were strapping cameras to robots,” Darrah said. “They were running up and down the aisles of the store.”

Only a few years after that, technology vendors were showing off new inventory-monitoring robots at retail conferences. The story, Darrah noted, demonstrates how quickly innovations can go from idea to execution. And the pace of innovation will only keep accelerating, he says: “The least amount of transformation we will ever see is today.”

LEARN MORE: Find out how retailers can leverage technology to address supply chain issues.

The Future Is Arriving for AI

Numerous speakers at the event highlighted the emergence of artificial intelligence as a game-changing technology.

“Everything we do is intended to increase your revenue or reduce your costs. AI is one of those things that does both,” said John Fanelli, vice president of enterprise software at NVIDIA. “There is a use case for AI in every industry.”

The potential of AI is nearly limitless. Technologies based on AI and machine learning are already disrupting a number of industries, such as retail, transportation and fast food.

“When Burger King adopts AI, it’s time for the rest of us to do that,” Darrah said.

Dex Hunter-Torricke, vice president of global communications and public engagement for the Meta Oversight Board, explained how AI is poised to take on workloads in even industries that require significant expertise, such as healthcare and law.

As organizations explore the opportunities presented by AI and other new technologies, they must prepare for the future. “The world is drastically unprepared for the next wave of disruption,” said Hunter-Torricke.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles and videos from the event, follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and participate in the official event conversation on Twitter at #JoinCDW.

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