5 tech areas that may not be quite disruptive

In my last post I highlighted technologies that I thought were most likely to have disruptive qualities over the next ten years. I also talked about debating and choosing only 3 tech areas; the reality is there is an incredible amount going out there all with their pros and cons.

This is a bit of a ‘best of the rest’ list. It is not that I think the underlying philosophies are flawed, but there are certain aspects that prevent it from being disruptive and also the just works idea.

Mobile

I identified smartphones and mobile as a technology that changed the world over the past 10 years. I see the next 10 years as more evolutionary for the whole mobile platform, hence no inclusion as a disruptive tech. The areas where improvements need to be made include costs (network costs especially), battery life, network speeds (beyond 5G) and the most lucrative part – better services for B2B. Nothing exciting per say, but things will work that bit more smoother.

The peer to peer/shared economy revolution

Airbnb started something quite revolutionary. I saw a graphic somewhere showing how their market cap is 10 times the value of the biggest hotel chain. Impressive given Airbnb has no assets and a far smaller employee base. But this is the era of peer to peer. And over the next few years we are going to get products that show novel usages. However I see three big problems:

  • Regulation – the legal system is catching up and there has been some protectionism and lobbying from hotels who’ve seen their market share eroded. This will be an ongoing problem going forward and I question if the system will do enough to kill the shared economy as a business.
  • Platforms as a business model – The peer to peer relies on platforms where the owner makes money by skimming on each transaction. Most companies then hope to show influence in a sector to increase their market cap. Yet it’s questionable if enough revenue can be generated to see this as a viable model.
  • Platforms solving genuine problems – I say novel usages will appear, but will consumers be scratching their heads in understanding the usefulness of a platform? Once again I really stress to anyone in the area to go do proper market research and make sure the problem identification has been done properly. Remember, the ‘easy’ stuff has been done.

3D printing

I’m a big fan of 3D printing but the hype has been a bit out of control and thankfully dampened recently. The cooling has been down to slow progress in reliable metal printing, the printing itself being slow and simply people not really understanding/finding a purpose outside of prototyping.

Technically it excites me due to potential waste savings as well as being able to print on demand spare parts but a few issues:

  • QA/QC – in the business domain reliability is so important. Industries are also very conservative. Will they ever accept 3D printed part? Eventually yes, but how long will it take?
  • Consumers – some visionaries see a future where there is a 3D printer in all homes. An interesting thought, but I struggle to see a reason why you would. Unless printing times decrease rapidly and printers are super cheap, it’s too easy to order anything you need online and get it delivered the next day. A dead market?

Robotics

Robotics used to be cutting edge technology at the forefront of the manufacturing revolution. The next stage is harnessing all the other bits of technology and making it even more diverse. Think applying ideas such as machine learning. We already have plants with minimal humans what about replacing other sectors that still have manual labour? My old industry of drilling is a prime candidate for a robotic revolution.

Bots

In a nutshell bots are smart tools that inside software that help automate tasks as well as replacing humans to answer our questions within apps/software. Basically it should make our lives very easy and simpler. Call centres? Potentially a thing of the past potentially. The bots are also getting smarter with better AI and machine learning.

I do not see bots as a fad, but a tool we see as a standard expectation in apps. And unless you are revolutionary I don’t know if you will be able to make any good money from the them in the mid term. Good luck to those on the bandwagon now, it will be a bumpy ride!

In closing I’ve gone through five more interesting technologies. I hope I’ve managed to convey that they have potential to be exciting, but not quite the disruptive potential as IoT, machine learning and blockchains. What excites me in the era of tech and the internet is I could be totally wrong and something truly innovative comes along. I’d be totally stoked if that was the case!

 

J

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