Autonomous computing and AR/VR possible areas of growth in Maryland

Some Mindgrub employees test a VR headset in the Mindgrub VR room. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record file photo)

Some Mindgrub employees test a VR headset in the Mindgrub VR room. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record file photo)

As smaller, quicker and easier technology drives more connectivity for devices and systems, executives say smart companies large and small can leverage those advancements to create opportunities for growth.

“There are opportunities to use that information,” said Harry Holt, executive vice president of operations at BITHGROUP Technologies. “You can improve the products for your customers.”

As technology continues to evolve, Holt says it is imperative for companies to stay on the cutting edge for their businesses. An early warning of impending system failure could spell the difference between business as usual or a company-wide catastrophe.

“It’s critical to stay current with the changes in technology,” Holt said, especially if a company hopes to survive. “The systems can create an efficiency.”

From educational institutions to government agencies, Maryland small businesses have plenty of resources to take advantage of the growing and ever-changing technology systems.

Julie Lenzer, associated vice president for economic development and co-director of UM Ventures, sees several areas of growth in technology in the region.  Lenzer points to quantum computing, autonomous computing – especially with drones — and augmented and virtual reality as areas of potential growth to complement the state’s strong base in cybersecurity and life sciences.

She added the lower cost of entry for drones and AR/VR give small businesses and startups an entry point into advanced technology.

The popularity of games such as “Pokemon Go” show how augmented and virtual reality can grow and invite investment. Brendan Irbie, co-founder and CEO of Oculus donated $31 million to the University of Maryland, College Park.

Holt also championed VR as a tool in training situations. For example, utility workers would be able to train on an electrical substation virtually or train for a gas leak in a safe environment.

Executives say one of the most important things businesses owners can do to stay ahead of the technology curve is to have an “adapt or die” mentality, having employees embrace a flexible frame of mind toward technology and be open to change and evolution.

Harry Holt

Harry Holt

Holt pointed out one of the critical areas for companies to evolve in their use of technology is by connecting with younger people. Not only those in college, but high school and even middle-school students, who have been exposed to and adopted newer technology such as augmented and virtual reality through the playing of video games and game-like experiences. To do this, Holt said companies still need older, more seasoned workers who can show younger employees how to translate that technology into a language its customers will understand and embrace.

Flexibility in attracting its workforce is imperative for a company to prosper. With the rise in telecommuting or remote working, businesses will have to be open to alternative work environments if  they expect to attract and keep talented employees.

Montgomery County making the final cut in Amazon’s location search for a new second headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” speaks to the region’s technology level and growth potential. The region also benefits from strong educational institutions able to produce a tech-savvy workforce and diverse transportation outlets all play a part in the attractiveness of the region.

BITHGROUP Technologies founder Robert Wallace believes small businesses are what fuels Maryland’s economy and it is paramount for them to help improve the state’s economy. Small businesses should foster a growth plan that involves its diverse population so it can gain an economic advantage.

Read the digital edition.

This story was published in Small Business Solutions 2018, a publication prepared in collaboration with the Maryland Small Business Development Center by the staff of The Daily Record.

Articles in this publication:
Hi-Tech opportunities in Maryland | Small business cybersecurity | Small business innovatorsFunding programs  | Understanding the High-Tech Ecosystem | Future of Technology in Maryland | What to do if a hacker steals your company information

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