Managing Your Business
How Will New Technologies Change Business in the Next Decade?
This content originally appeared on Vox.com.
No longer just fodder for science fiction novels, artificial intelligence, drones and robotics are rapidly developing, with all sorts of implications for business owners. Just the number of devices that will be connected to the Internet — a McKinsey report estimates 30 billion by 2020 — will usher in a dizzying transformation.
Dr. James Canton, CEO & chairman at Institute for Global Futures, and author of "Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that will Transform Your World," puts these technological changes into a coherent narrative for a living.
"Internet connectivity in the next decade will enable independent businesses to be globally agile," he says. "They'll be able to grow their businesses exponentially by reaching customers, suppliers, and collaborators faster."
Using Tech to Save Time
Jeff Corn, CEO of Virtuance, doesn't need convincing about how technology is changing the ecosystem for independent businesses. His company uses drones to produce aerial photography and video of real estate properties for sale and lease. The drone market is expected to create nearly 104,000 jobs by the year 2025, according to a 2014 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
"Without drone technology, marketing properties in this way is much more time consuming, much more expensive, and in many cases, impossible," says Corn, whose company, in the pre-drone world, obtained aerial shots for clients by renting a single-engine plane. "The cost would start at $1,000 just to capture a few images," he says.
Ten years from now, Corn expects drone technology to be ubiquitous in a variety of industries. "As with many new technologies, the advancement of drone technology will be less a limitation of adoption and more about the effective regulation of the technology. It will be a no-brainer for all sorts of uses we haven't even fathomed yet."
Using Data to Understand Your Customer
Similarly, artificial intelligence is already making an impact on businesses. For example, Prism is a technology that analyzes video data produced by in-store cameras to recognize, track, and learn about the movement and behavior of retail customers.
Whit Moses, PR and content director at Prism Skylabs, says AI is already impacting retail layout. "If you are able to examine customer traffic over the course of a week, a retailer might discover that only a very small percentage of shoppers make it to the back-left section of the store, which would explain low sales for merchandise located in this area."
Armed with data derived from algorithms that detect and differentiate people from everything else captured on camera, Moses says a store manager may choose to relocate merchandise elsewhere or shift displays to create a more open area. "By analyzing the flow of people, the same manager would then have the ability to test different configurations and compare their effectiveness," he says.
Canton believes that independent businesses stand to benefit most from emerging technology. "Be it virtual reality, alternative currency, AI in the cloud, on-demand supply chains, or DNA-based companies, every independent business will operate like a startup, with multiple projects going around the world," he says.
"I think it's a great time for independent businesses to thrive by embracing leading edge technology. Innovation is the best competitive advantage."
For more tips on using technology to push your business forward, visit chase.com/forbusiness.
Brian O'Connor is an editor and writer in New York who writes about business and brands.