Regardless of your industry, it's important for your business to keep up with the latest trends in technology and the economy. If you fail to take action, you’ll fall behind your competitors. If you stay ahead of the curve, however, you can maintain an edge and keep your business in the healthy "thrive" position.
With that in mind, here are eight trends that everyone should know about — and keep up with.
1. Advancing of Emerging Countries
"Emerging economies are catching up with the progress of the advanced world and are predicted to overtake many of them by 2020," writes Julia Hawley for Investopedia. "This will cause a substantial shift in the balance of economic power around the world."
Currently, the top economic powerhouses in the world are the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, India, Brazil, Italy and Russia. By 2020, the world’s top economies will be China, the U.S., India, Japan, Russia, Germany, Brazil, the U.K., France and Mexico thanks to the fact that "advanced economies are mature markets that are slowing."
Hawley states that the implications of this shift will include a rise in household income and population growth which “will present exponential opportunities in emerging markets,” such as luxury goods.
Also, many of these emerging markets have younger consumers who "represent substantial power over purchases, particularly large items such as cars and homes, as well as the items needed to furnish homes."
Finally, we’ll see foreign investors flowing "more readily into these developing nations."
2. Flexible Work Arrangements
With advancements in communications technology like Skype, GoToMeeting and Slack, working remotely has never been easier. More importantly, however, the largest age demographic in the U.S. are also putting a nail in the coffin of the 9-to-5 routine.
In fact, 95 percent of Millennials want the option to occasionally work outside the office, while 77 percent of Millennials reported in a survey that flexible hours would make the workplace more productive.
Because Millennials value work-life balance over high salary positions, more businesses should be prepared to offer their employees telecommuting or remote employment opportunities, as well as flexible work arrangements, at least some of the time.
3. The Blockchain
If you’re not familiar with the blockchain, here’s a clean description from the Wall Street Journal:
A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to allow each participant on the network to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority.
While known primarily for financial transactions, individuals are looking at alternative uses for the blockchain that include trading commodities to “establishing ownership of real-estate properties, to provide election voting” and to storing data online.
4. Live Streaming Events
Did you know that Millennials spend more time streaming video content than watching live television?
With services like Periscope and Blab, along with heavyweights Facebook and YouTube getting in on the action, marketers are realizing the potential that live streaming presents. By live streaming events, you can build your audience and spread brand awareness.
Marketing aside, live streaming is already impacting how we watch television. This isn’t anything new if you’re a Netflix subscriber, but it could also affect things like sporting events. For example, the NFL and Snapchat just announced a partnership to provide “Live Stories,” in order to attract new fans.
Biosensors are becoming increasingly popular. We have wristbands, like FitBit, that count our steps, track our sleeping patterns, and monitor our heart rates. Apple uses your fingerprint to aide in the prevention of fraud.
In the future, we can expect the usage of biosensors to continue to grow. For example, we’ll see contact lenses that can sense blood sugar levels for diabetics (in development at Google), tooth-embedded sensors that will monitor what we eat (developed by the National University of Taiwan), and a capsule-sized device that is powered by stomach acid and will analyze the digestive tract (developed by US company Helius).
6. Big Data Analytics
Big data, as described by SAS, “examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights.” As big data becomes more accessible, we can expect it to impact a wide-range of industries. For example, the healthcare industry can use patient data to predict medical emergencies, educators can use data to understand a student’s learning patterns, hotels can adjust their prices depending on weather or events.
7. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality, which merges the real world with virtual information in real-time, is becoming easier to achieve. And, thanks to the success of Pokemon Go, AR has now gone mainstream.
According to Howard Yu, mainstream AR has irrevocably changed the societal expectations of what information is presented and how it is accessed.
“Very soon, visitors at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art will demand to know everything about the exhibit’s installations far beyond what’s posted on the walls,” writes Howard Yu in Fortune. "At boutique galleries in Soho, shoppers will expect to hold up their phones and obtain more details about the process on how the latest ceramic vase is handcrafted."
8. Autonomous Robots
When Microsoft introduced Kinect in 2010 it paved the way for affordable sensors to be introduced into the market that could be used to build robots. Signe Brewster says in Fortune that with the arrival of the new class of robots, which have allowed teams to build robots simply and cheaply,
“There are robots that monitor and stock shelves in grocery stores. There are robots that will mow the lawn for you. There are cars that will drive themselves, office assistants that require regular recharging, and food delivery guys that won’t ask for a tip,” Brewster writes.
As advancements continue to be made, expect the world to be on the verge of a revolution.
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