Written by AJ Ratani, President of RV Tech.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Startup Grind event at Red Ventures where 200+ members of the Charlotte tech and entrepreneurial community came together to discuss the future of technology – what’s new and what’s next.
As part of the fireside chat portion of the evening, I shared four technology trends, and upon further reflection have added a fifth one to the list. These five trends not only impact how entrepreneurs and tech startups function, they also heavily influence how the average person goes about day-to-day life. They’re also incredibly interconnected, relying heavily upon one another to generate scale.
5. Cloud Computing – The movement from on-premise to the cloud has been in the works for several years and continues to grow. Amazon is currently leading the field through its AWS platform , however, other major players, including Google and Microsoft, are quickly catching up. The cloud provides tools and a platform for start-ups and entrepreneurs to build their product and get it to market easier and faster than ever before. It also offers the ability to build scalable and more robust applications.
Initially, the cloud was intended to replace the need for servers or a data center. More recently, cloud providers are expanding into all kinds of services, including data analytics and machine learning, proprietary database platforms and mobile development; putting the cloud in direct competition with established giants like SAP, Oracle, HP and Dell. It’s amazing to see how the cloud is driving the disruption of a wide variety of established services and platforms and will continue to do so – Netflix changing TV, Workday changing HR, Salesforce changing CRM, DropBox changing storage, etc.
4. Mobile Computing – It’s unlikely anyone will faint from shock when I say that the iPhone has significantly changed the way we live our lives. The iPhone has single-handedly eliminated the need for GPS devices, personal cameras, video cameras, and even flashlights – or at least made it feasible to carry all at one time. But the real change involves how we use our mobile devices for things we previously did exclusively via PC. For the first time in history, we use mobile devices to access the Internet more than we use our PCs. This is true for both number of users and hours spent on the respective devices.
Companies are being forced to think about how consumers will interact with their service, app or product on mobile devices more so than on a PC. While the term “mobile-first” typically implies building an application or website for a smartphone, mobile devices are no longer just smartphones. Mobile devices now include tablets, smart watches and smart TVs, and things will continue to become even more complicated with the arrival of virtual reality devices, which will be a significant standalone trend in the coming years.
3. Physical into Virtual – The world is moving in a direction known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT), which I’m referring to as Physical into Virtual. I use this term because it more correctly defines this trend – the idea that everything we encounter on a day-to-day basis in the physical world is embedded with some sort of technology.
Take our homes for example. In the past, if you set up security cameras, you had to pay someone to watch the feed 24-hours a day. Now you can monitor the feed yourself on any mobile device and get automated alerts if something unexpected happens. If you want to turn off the alarm and let your neighbor in to borrow a cup of sugar you can do that with a few clicks on your mobile device. We are already down a path of having every device in our homes embedded with technology that will provide data to help us live our lives more efficiently.
Imagine the implications this trend could have in the field of healthcare. It’s interesting to think that there may come a day in the not too distant future where it’s commonplace to be connected to a device that monitors your blood sugar in real-time and sends notifications to your cell phone if your blood sugar dips too low. By introducing the virtual into the physical, we can be proactive instead of reactive in many aspects of our lives – allowing all of us to lead more productive lives.
2. Automation – Humans aren’t able to make split-second decisions nearly as fast as a computer or analyze millions of data points in near real-time, which means more and more aspects of our lives are being influenced by automation. Nowhere is that more evident than in the field of transportation. For the past few years, self-driving cars have been tested successfully on the roads. Even cars that aren’t fully automated possess advanced safety features like automated braking. Imagine how your daily commute would change if you could work in the comfort of your own vehicle vs. drive. How much would Uber be able to drop rates if they no longer had to pay drivers?
The movement to automation is bigger than just cars. Automation is also impacting how companies make decisions for their customers. Given the amount of data smart companies have at their disposal, we are not far away from day where every consumer receives a completely personalized experience.
1. Social Commerce – Social media first revolutionized the way we connect with each other on a personal level, and now it’s transforming the way we do business. People are getting more and more comfortable transacting and communicating through social platforms. Facebook is leading the way in social commerce through its Messenger and Whatsapp platforms. Social commerce will not only change the way people make purchases (watch out e-commerce carts), it will also disrupt existing customer service models. Imagine being able to engage with a business via a simple message, as well as being able to track and reference every conversation with that business over time.
There’s no question these trends will make our lives easier, better and more productive, but that’s not to say there aren’t also downsides to consider. Physical into Virtual and Automation have significant cyber security implications like giving a potential hacker the ability to unlock your doors and disable your security system. If you can control something through a mobile device, a hacker likely can as well. There are also significant unknowns around privacy given the amount of personal data being stored.
Additionally, there is the human factor to be considered. Automated cars and automation in manufacturing will limit the size of the workforce needed to build, maintain and run many of the current applications in both sectors. There is also a Darwinian aspect that comes with any technological revolution – people must learn to adapt to the new world order or face getting left behind.
Regardless of how one feels about advancements in technology, these five trends will undoubtedly shape the world in which we live in 2016 – and beyond – and at Red Ventures, we’re looking forward to the ride.
Before his career at Red Ventures, AJ served as a web application and systems developer at the Center for Advanced Engineering Environments, which worked on specific projects for the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.
Want more predictions for 2016? Our digital marketing team shares top paid search trends here.