Technologies to Watch

Here are the nine categories of technology that I continually monitor for news and indication of trends that could impact my customers long-term. More than focusing on any single technology look for possibilities at the intersection of multiple technology categories to enable game-changing business model innovations.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

More than a single technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science, that you could think of as a “family of technologies”. We commonly define the term “AI” as: the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions associated with human minds. Examples of AI technologies include robotics, autonomous vehicles, machine vision, language processing, virtual agents, and machine learning. AI technology drives many of the advances in other technology categories.

Connected Devices (Internet of Things)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a marketing term referring to the use of intelligently connected devices and systems that leverage data gathered by sensors in machines and other physical objects. According to a world economic forum report, there are more connected devices in the world today than there are humans. This number is expected to increase exponentially.

Digital Fabrication (3D Printing)

Digital fabrication (also called 3D printing or additive manufacturing) enables the creation of complex products, without complex equipment, by printing a physical object, layer by layer, from a 3D digital model. Imagine creating a loaf of bread, slice by slice. The types of materials used in 3D printing continue to expand and the methods and capabilities continue to evolve. Eventually, a 3D printer will be able to do what a whole factory was once required to accomplish.

Mobile Connectivity & Social

There has been a worldwide explosion in connectivity since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, followed by the rapid increase of social networks and mobile device advances. Professional and social digital interaction is now virtually ubiquitous without the old limits of time and space. At any time, we can easily find and connect with people of shared interest anywhere in the world. More and more people are going online every day: with about 5 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world as of 2017 (a figure expected to grow to nearly 5.9 billion by 2025, according to the trade group GSMA). The introduction of 5G connectivity is expected to deliver speeds 20 times faster than 4G with nearly undetectable latency. Imagine the impact of reliable and real-time anywhere connectivity.

Autonomous Mobility

Powered by advances in machine intelligence, this category includes autonomous cars, buses, trucks, drones, marine, and other vehicles operated by machine intelligence rather than a human driver.

Robotics

This category includes physical and virtual automation such as industrial robots, collaborative robots (co-bots), wearable robots (exoskeletons), and robotic process automation (RPA) which is software for automating repetitive tasks (think of a macro on steroids).

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing enables the running of workloads remotely (over the internet in a commercial provider’s data center) to access a pool of resources. It enables developers to access many capabilities for innovative application development, such as artificial intelligence, internet of things connectivity, and more; with the ability to start small and scale as needed. With its raw computing power and application functionality on-demand, cloud computing “levels the playing field” for accessing various emerging technology capabilities. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce’s CRM system are examples of public cloud offerings.

Distributed Ledger Technologies (Blockchain)

A shared distributed ledger, blockchain is a linked list of encrypted transactions, stored across a network of computers. This network actively participates in the validation, upkeep, and accuracy of the database, and is rewarded for doing so in cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, is an example of the application of a blockchain protocol.

Mixed Reality (AR & VR)

In all cases, a device is necessary to enable the experience. Virtual Reality (VR) uses special goggles that block visibility of the real world, allowing you to step out of the physical world and experience a virtual world. In contrast, Augmented Reality (AR), is a computer-generated overlay of digital elements on top of the physical reality that you see, using devices such as: special glasses (Google Glass, Magic Leap) or your smartphone (Pokémon Go). Mixed Reality is a form of augmented reality that falls somewhere between virtual and augmented reality. Mixed Reality augments the real world with virtual objects that aim to look as though they were placed in that world.

Business Model Innovation Enabled by Multiple Technologies

We’re surrounded by buzzwords: AI, IOT, DLT, 3D Printing, AR, VR, Robotics, 5G, the list is endless. You might ask, “Which single technology should I be watching?” But that’s where you miss it. It’s not about any single technology. It’s about the implications and possibilities at the intersection of multiple technologies. That’s where we see radical business model innovation. Don’t miss the big picture. The more you zoom in on a single technology or trend, the less you see.

Here are some examples: UBER for instance, is possible today by bringing together capabilities across multiple technology categories to create a new business model platform that changes the game when it comes to getting from place to place.

UBER: is possible not because of any single technology but the intersection of multiple technologies such as…

  • AI – ability to process massive amounts of data created by the networks of riders and drivers, AI for location, directions, finding available drivers
  • IOT – mobile devices used in the ride sharing app have sensors that make this network possible
  • Mobile and Social – the Uber app is a mobile app and has a social component – rating drivers, rating riders, notifying your friends that you are in an uber (as a safety mechanism)
  • Autonomous Mobility – this is emerging and still experimental, a real possibility for long-term future
  • Cloud computing – cloud enabled access to the ride share capabilities
Technology
Uber
Tesla
Pokémon Go
Waze
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
X
X
X
X
Connected Devices (Internet of Things)
X
X
X
X
Digital Fabrication (3D Printing)
Mobile Connectivity & Social
X
X
X
X
Autonomous Mobility
emerging
X
Robotics
X
Cloud Computing
X
X
X
X
Distributed Ledger Technologies (Blockchain)
Mixed Reality (AR & VR)
X

“Deb is relentless, but gentle, to teach others about new ways of thinking.
Her positive vibe makes it easy to work with her, and her creative thought process
brings an audience into her world of innovation.”

– Kelli Nienaber, Executive Director, Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation
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