How Virtual Technologies are Changing the Business World

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We are living in an age when the erasure of the physical world is already well underway.  The process which began with books and paintings is now woven into the fabric of our lives and as the technology becomes more sophisticated, we find ourselves further distanced from the world of physical objects.  This sounds malign and indeed there are profound psychological consequences to be confronted, but virtual technologies can also provide us with effective solutions to problems in the physical world.  In the global marketplace, in which we now all live, virtual technology is transforming business and that means it is transforming the lives of everyone on the planet.

Virtual payments

In the west we are habituated to the use of our contactless credit cards, but virtual cards are a step further, dispensing not just with cash but the card as well.  A virtual card number is a randomly generated number which is associated with your credit account.  It looks no different from any other credit card number, but it cannot be traced by hackers and because it is non-physical, it cannot be cloned.

Desktop virtualisation

In a company where every employee carries sensitive company data on their laptop, security is always going to be a problem.  Desktop virtualisation means that desktop machines become nothing more than a screen connected to the internet.  Data is no longer stored on the local device; the machine becomes simply a means to log into a cloud hosted virtual desktop.  A virtual desktop is far more secure because it is protected by multi factor authentication and because all the company data is centralised and stored in the cloud it is easier to back up and secure.

Virtual assistants and chatbots

We seem to be entirely happy arranging a bank loan or mortgage without human to human interaction.  There is almost a sense in which we feel more comfortable interacting with AI.  We won’t encounter prejudice, boredom, fatigue or a hangover, we know that we will get impartial, accurate information.  Chatbots are freeing people from dull, grindingly repetitive call centre jobs and providing callers with useful medical advice when a doctor is not available.  Meanwhile, the debate about the dangers of AI will continue, as indeed it should.

Virtual Influencers

The first virtual influencer was launched by an L.A. company in 2016.  Lil Miquela is now the world’s most popular virtual influencer with over 2 million followers, an Instagram account, a YouTube channel and several music singles to her credit. She has been used to promote Calvin Klein, Prada and Samsung Mobile, commanding almost 3 times more engagement than her human competitors.  Posts by virtual influencers are expensive to create and not all of them are successful but when virtual influencers get hooked up with AI, watch out.

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Virtual reality/augmented reality, the new way to shop As you wander around the store collecting items you can pop on your VR headset and see just how those items will look in your home, or you can model that dress or suit without the need to get changed.  Hold your phone up to an item and see information about its source and production.  These technologies are still in their infancy but make no mistake, they are on the way.

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