Top 10 Disruptive Technologies and Macro Trends in 2017
Technology is advancing at a dizzying pace. What seemed unimaginable just a few years ago seems quite possible today. Did anyone think that drone deliveries could ever become a reality? Similarly, 3D printing used to be thought of as a technology that was straight out of science fiction.
But today, both 3D printing and drone deliveries have the potential to become commonplace. There are many other developments in the tech world that could quickly become widespread.
Here is a list of 10 technologies and trends that could see rapid growth in 2017.
1. Artificial intelligence
Computers that perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence have made inroads into many fields. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used in robotics, autonomous vehicles, and consumer electronics among other areas.
Recently, Sentient Technologies launched the world’s first hedge fund that is run completely by artificial intelligence. Babak Hodjat, co-founder of the company, says that humans are too emotional for the stock market and that AI has a better chance of succeeding.
2. Internet of things
Increasing numbers of everyday objects have computing devices in them. These devices send and receive data over the internet, allowing for the collection of information in real-time.
Which are the industries that can benefit from the internet of things (IoT)? Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and consumer goods are likely to register significant gains. It is expected that by 2020, there will be 50 billion IoT sensors in operation. By 2030, this number is expected to climb to 200 billion.
3. Virtual reality and augmented reality
The immersive experience that these technologies offer was the preserve of gamers till recently. But virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is quickly making its way into business applications.
Some of the areas in which AR and VR are finding acceptance are training and field-service solutions, virtual showrooms, and interactive design labs.
The application of statistical analysis to biological data was used by Apple in 2013 to develop Touch ID fingerprint technology for its iPhone. It is estimated that in 2017, a billion smart mobile devices that use fingerprint sensors will be shipped.
Smart cards that use biometric sensors will become more common. PINs and passwords will see a decline in usage.
5. Digital marketing and micro targeting
Traditional selling methods are becoming increasingly ineffective. As customers move online, it is necessary to adopt digital marketing techniques.
Amazon is using the data it has gathered about its customers to offer them products that are similar to those that they have already purchased. In 2017, big data and analytics will play a greater role in the marketing strategy of many companies.
6. 3D printing
The prices of 3D printers prevented this technology from gaining wide acceptance. 101Hero, a company based in Shenzhen, China, says that it can sell these printers for as low as US$49. Even if that is an exaggeration, there is little doubt that prices are falling rapidly.
The production costs of various manufacturing activities can be reduced to a fraction of their current levels with the use of 3D printers. These devices are finding applications in fields as diverse as biotech, automotive, and the manufacture of prosthetics.
7. Drone delivery
In a recent development, Singapore Post has initiated a project to deliver parcels by using drones. A tie-up has been entered into with Airbus Helicopters and in the initial trials, air routes will be developed within the National University of Singapore campus. At a later stage, drones could be used for shore-to-ship parcel deliveries.
Expect more announcements about drone deliveries in 2017, especially from B2C companies.
8. Digital twins technology will mature
What is a digital twin? It is a replica of an actual machine that is digitally connected to the original. The digital twin receives data in real time from the real equipment which is operational. The twin can be used to predict problems that may arise so that preventive maintenance can be carried out.
This technology can be of great utility for equipment like jet engines and turbines. GE has been very active in this field. The company’s vice president of software research, Colin Parris, says “The digital twin is a living model of something that delivers a business outcome.”
This technology, which allows digital information to be distributed instead of being copied, is expected to have an impact on the way banks and financial institutions maintain records and transfer money. Originally, blockchain tech was used for bitcoin, the digital currency, but now its proponents say that it can be used for applications as diverse as the maintenance of land records and personal identities.
Late last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore partnered with R3, a blockchain company. The purpose of this collaboration is to develop a payment system for inter-bank transactions.
10. Greater focus on user experience
Companies across the world are realising that their success does not depend solely on the quality of their product or the efficiency with which they deliver a service. User experience is the differentiator that can lead to success in a crowded market.
Uber has perfected the art of developing the most user-friendly app. The firm’s single-minded focus on giving its users the best possible experience has given it rapidly increasing business volumes as well as a market valuation of over US$60 billion.
In 2017, organisations will focus a greater degree of energy on providing their customers with a seamless and effortless experience.
Just a couple of decades ago, smartphones didn’t exist. Today, we take the convenience that they offer for granted.
What are the technological developments that we can expect to see in the coming years and decades? Elon Musk of Tesla says that 100 Gigafactories could power the entire world with sustainable energy. He is already putting up the first such factory in Nevada. When complete, it will have the biggest building in the world.
It is hard to imagine that just a 100 factories can meet the energy needs of 7 billion people. But sceptics should remember that technology can advance at a surprising pace. The past century provides adequate proof about this.
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