Amid a “wave of hype” around emerging technologies that have implications for data management, three specific trends are showing the potential to help businesses transform the way they operate, according to a series of research briefs by technology industry association CompTIA.

To varying degrees, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) are staking out a more prominent role in the digital operations of organizations, the studies show.

“Though the majority of businesses are still on the sidelines, use cases for each of these solutions are beginning to emerge,” said Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, at CompTIA. “When you consider that these are not standalone products that you plug in and play, but building blocks to automate, digitize or streamline operations, the impacts they are already having illustrate their potential.”

CompTIA surveyed 700 business professionals at U.S. companies to measure their awareness and usage of AI, blockchain, and VR/AR. While VR has the greatest awareness (74 percent of respondents), blockchain is having the biggest impact today (43 percent).

One in four companies are making regular use of AI, and just over half of current users have AI deployed in machine learning within Internet of Things (IoT) implementations and IT infrastructures. Early adopters are also using AI in virtual assistants (52 percent of current AI users); as suggestions in workflow tools (52 percent); in the automation of processes and tasks (48 percent); and as a natural language interface for workplace tools (44 percent).

Early adopters of blockchain are using it to confirm digital identities or maintain an audit trail for compliance. More than half (52 percent) cite greater security as a driver for considering blockchain. Common business practices such as asset management and contract agreements might also benefit from blockchain, and companies are also exploring the use of blockchain for distributed data storage.

As both VR and AR mature, the two will likely merge in applications that fall under the label “mixed reality”. One in five companies has a VR/AR initiative underway, while a slightly higher percentage (23 percent) saying they are experimenting with VR/AR pilots.

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