For the first time in the history of OpenText’s Enterprise World Conferences, the Future Forward event was held for students interested in how the latest technology is shaping the future of enterprises worldwide. I had the opportunity to attend the event and was blown away by the vast array of software companies are using.
Along with learning about OpenText’s offerings, a series of TED-style talks were held exclusively for Future Forward attendees. The speakers ranged from Craig Haney (Communitech) to Feridun Hamdullahpur (President, University of Waterloo). Here are some of the key takeaways I had from the event:
Artificial Intelligence is the Future
AI presents one of the most interesting opportunities of the 21st century, and the conference continued to reinforce that message. Almost every speaker at the event made mention of “Artificial Intelligence” or “AI” at least once. Stephen Piron from deeplearni.ng shared the multitude of applications his technology can have in an enterprise setting. For instance, he described how his deep learning based technology was consistently able to outperform the traditional model banks use to estimate credit card delinquency.
After the speaker sessions, we had the opportunity to explore the expo hall floor, home to a variety of software made by OpenText and other companies. Plenty of these technologies featured analytics tools designed to make estimates and recommendations powered by learning algorithms. Businesses can draw conclusions from data to help them with crucial decision-making, optimization of processes, identification of potential risks, and much more.
Managing and Handling Big Data is a Priority
In order to power all of the tailored experiences provided by software, a company’s IT infrastructure must be equipped to handle increasing amounts of data in a secure way. At the conference expo, there were plenty of services exhibiting their technology for keeping enterprise data organized. I came across booths specializing in everything from data encryption to scalable servers designed for enterprise infrastructure.
As companies deal with more and more information, faster processing will be necessary to fully harness the power of all their data. It was great to hear Martin Laforest, from the Institute of Quantum Computing, share the basics of quantum computing, a revolution in computing designed to increase efficiency and change computing for years to come.
Retail Will Never be the Same
The conference also featured Mark Bergen, from Shopify Plus, who spoke about the changing needs of the retail industry as consumers make the shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. He also shared the Shopify story, how a small online retailer started out selling snowboards and eventually grew to work with enterprise and celebrity clients.
The shifts in retail have presented both opportunities and challenges for small and large businesses alike. Many newer retailers are building with a digital-first mindset to keep up with the fast-moving industry players, such as Amazon, whose Prime Day event had thousands of sales being made each minute. As consumers continue to rapidly adopt e-commerce, retailers who aren’t able to connect with their customers will be bound for failure.
Overall, the conference was an insightful experience for getting exposure to the challenges faced by enterprises in today’s rapidly changing digital environment. It was also an amazing opportunity to connect with fellow like-minded students, and I would highly recommend the Future Forward conference to any students interested in the intersection of business and technology.
Rushi is a co-op student from the University of Waterloo who’s currently an Agile Software Test Engineer Intern at TribalScale. He’s passionate about innovation and learning how tech can be leveraged to make a difference in society.