Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball that enables me to gaze into the future and pick out the tech winners in the coming 10 years. Alas. I can however use a bit of intuition as well as some research to give some speculative insights.
Last time I discussed how smartphones were a genuine disruptive technology. I did not elaborate how they become part of our lives in ways we couldn’t imagine ten years ago. One big aspect was apps and the importance of software in making our lives easier. Actually it made us realise we needed certain services and products we never even thought of needing.
I talk a fair bit about proper problem identification, but I have to admit the real disruptive technologies go above and beyond this point. It is also highly unlikely that one person alone changes the world but a few people working in parallel. What tends to happen is one party gets it right in comparison to the competition. In my opinion that is because they get the product in a state that just works. And this ties into my arguments in the last post.
It has not been an easy task narrowing down to 3 different technologies. There are also plenty of articles out there focusing on the next 10 years. I reckon this is because there is a genuine belief we are on the cusp of a new era of tech.
What makes my list different? I guess my list is focused on the just works philosophy. It is working out what technologies are likely to hit the sweet spot in usability as well as appealing to all audiences and justifying why this is. I have usually written with an eye on the consumer market and physical products, but here I have also included things that are software related and targeting businesses (B2B) too. This is necessary because we usually find tech eventually filtering its way down to consumers a few years later.
The ‘Internet of Things’
A topic in which I believe this is a lot of confusion over. In a nutshell it is about connecting ourselves fuller to the internet. There is also a misunderstanding between topics such as connecting homes and the wider more powerful application of being fully connected in a network that has a wider range, lower power and cheaper.
Why do I pick IoT as a potential defining tech? Mainly because the range of applications is potentially so large especially in preventative solutions in industry. Over the next 10 years it will filter further down into the consumer markets. Even today, the costs are relatively low, so we can experiment and test quite cheaply a wide range of applications. But there are pitfall along the way and I will critically assess IoT another time.
This is the idea of systems having the capability of self-learning. We do not need to program or teach the machine. The most (in)famous application is probably self driving cars and how the computer ‘learns’ and gets better at driving. You can also use it as an analytical tool and see how the data can help you improve your business. But it does raise a question – do we start generating more data than we need and do we over analyse the information?
I also have concerns on issues such as driverless cars – I simply do not see it solving a problem that we perceive to be a problem (if that makes sense). Nevertheless the overarching theme is worthy of my list.
Bitcoins have had a bit of an up/down history, but the technology behind it is only just being exploited. The blockchain is a distributed database that is continuously maintained. Think it as a digital ledger that is resilient to being changed. Once a ‘block’ has been recorded the history cannot be altered.
Why is this so important? You decentralise the need for transactions – so I can do a transaction with another person without the need of a bank/intermediary. Furthermore the history element means you can guarantee provenance, contracts can be validated without worrying about the authenticity. Bitcoins are only the start to potentially how we do transactions in the future.
I hope the insights have been of interest. As I said earlier, this has been a tough list to compile (even if the themes are not exactly unusual); as the idea of just works can have such a number of possibilities. Next time I’ll go through some of the other themes that didn’t quite make my top 3 and why I have some concerns on those technologies.