It pays to identify the trends of the future. Peeking into tomorrow helps you predict the upcoming challenges and opportunities for your business and enables you to plan accordingly.
As ardent fans of new technology and business trends, we’ve been keeping an ear on the ground for what will make it big next year.
Here’s our take on the 6 major trends that’ll transform 2017 and beyond:
Virtual and Augmented Reality Grows Up
Thanks to Pokemon Go and the plethora of VR headsets on the market, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are now the biggest buzzwords in a space that used to be dominated by hardcore gamers and geeks.
There are already several industries adopting VR technology, including education, sports, tourism and healthcare. Businesses are using AR to simulate how furniture and other interior design products look in your home. Some are using it to help you compare different makeup looks on your face live (L’Oréal’s app). Others include it in the design and development processes (Volkswagen AR).
AR/VR is also opening up new possibilities in healthcare — allowing for more precise and effective training, testing and maintenance of devices, and even the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain.
The AR/VR movement will gain more steam in 2017 as more and more companies discover the power of the technology. The International Data Corporation is already predicting a compound annual growth of 180%.
The Internet of Things Accelerates
The Internet of Things simply refers to smart devices that can connect to the internet and talk to each other.
You’ve probably heard of self-stocking refrigerators that ensures you never run out of eggs and beer. How about alarm clocks that trigger your coffee pot to start running so you get hot coffee before you rush to work? Or perhaps the set of keys that never gets lost because it’s connected to the cloud via sensors.
Without a doubt, the IoT is definitely exciting for the consumer.
When you bring the IoT into businesses however, it gets a whole lot more interesting. It essentially changes the entire structure of a traditional business.
Let’s take a clothing brand for example.
The clothes are manufactured in a smart factory that runs on a connected, inter-operating system. This system communicates seamlessly, eliminating the need for line workers. The real time insights collected from the system will then be used to keep up with system maintenance, control costs and increase yield.
Smart forklifts in warehouses then move these crates of clothing to the autonomous trucks, which ships it to the stores — human-free.
In the stores, the IoT is used in smart shelves to keep track of stock. Staff will no longer have to manage inventory manually. It will collect insights which gives the retailer an overall view on the business. Through the data, they will see who their customers are, how their products are performing, and how they can formulate new products and optimize store layout.
While the IoT is still in its early days, we foresee it accelerating at breakneck speed in the coming year.
Clean Energy Goes Mainstream
Renewable energy has been on everyone’s agenda for a while now, but it will really take off in 2017 as clean energy gets increasingly competitive in its pricing.
Previously seen as something only the privileged can afford, renewable energy no longer comes with a big price tag. Prices have fallen dramatically in just the last few years and is already on par with fossil fuel prices in many countries.
With all the investments poured into clean energy products and projects, global investments in clean energy reached a record high of $286 billion in 2015, and is set to grow as the industry matures.
You can expect even more advanced tech and lower prices as the renewable energy industry scales up.
The World Will Begin Moving Towards Universal Basic Income
A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is basically a concept that every citizen will receive money that covers basic necessities like food, accommodation and clothing, no strings attached.
The idea is that once you no longer have to worry about having food on the table and a roof over your head, you’ll be free to pursue things that really matter to you.
This freedom paves the way to more creativity and innovation, as entrepreneurs will be less afraid of taking bigger risks in their ventures because there is a safety net, and people will be happy to work in industries not incentivized by current markets.
As robots begin replacing more and more jobs in the very near future, one plausible solution would be the UBI. It’ll replace the complex conditional welfare systems to reduce poverty and encourage productivity. It’s garnered support from economists, financial experts, governments and tech billionaires like Elon Musk, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
Chatbots Will Transform the Way Businesses Interact
We’re already using chatbots today — Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or IBM’s Watson. While they’re fun to have, they aren’t exactly revolutionary.
The next generation of chatbots however, will fundamentally change how we interact with computers. Weaving in sophisticated AI technology like deep learning and neural networks, chatbots will understand us better and produce more sophisticated solutions and responses.
As chatbots get more sophisticated, a whole new realm of possibilities open up for businesses – you can automate several services, run customer service 24/7, understanding what the customer wants is as easy as collecting chat data, and several services can be automated.
Companies are all jumping on the chatbot bandwagon, with Facebook, Microsoft, Hipmunk, Slack and Kik launching their own bot platforms. Research firm Gartner predicts that only 1/3 of customer service interactions will require human interaction by 2017.
Traditional R&D Evolves
Big companies pump money into R&D to create new technology and uncover new knowledge, but research has shown that cash spent on R&D alone isn’t enough for big innovation successes.
The traditional R&D model gives a company new technology, but there’s no guarantee that this new technology will translate to market success.
Companies today need to work cohesively with new innovation frameworks and processes. This helps uncover sustainable and commercially viable business models and ultimately bring in the big bucks.
We’re seeing more and more companies that traditionally depend on R&D like Pfizer forming new innovation processes for a more well-rounded approach. And that is only set to grow.
Expect more and more innovation centers and labs to pop up in 2017 and beyond.
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