As we enter the fourth industrial revolution – driven by data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things – the world around us is turning into one enormous information system. That’s why I often refer to this transformation as “the intelligence revolution.”
Not only is there a huge range of new technologies involved in this revolution, but we also see accelerated progress because of the ways all of this technology is interacting.
As this period of exponential growth continues, tech trends will disrupt every industry, every organization (large and small), and even many aspects of society.
In this post, let's take a look at the ten biggest tech trends that will separate the successful businesses of the future from those that get left behind.
Trend 1: Ubiquitous Computing
The average smartphone today is more powerful than the supercomputers of 10 years ago. Microchips have shrunk, and devices keep getting smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more powerful. Now that we’re reaching the limits of Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, other advances will continue to push the boundaries of computing power.
Future advances in computing will come from software and algorithms (especially when the coding is done by AI), quantum computing, and even new forms of digital storage, such as DNA storage.
Trend 2: Connected and Smart Everything
The Internet of Things (IoT) is now growing so fast that practically every device seems to be capable of connecting to the internet and gathering and transmitting data. It is estimated that by 2030 we will have at least 50 billion IoT devices installed worldwide.
This ability to connect things and places to the internet (and to each other) has the potential to transform many industries, including manufacturing, education, healthcare, and defense. As they work with the data from the IoT, businesses will get unique insights into how customers and employees really behave versus how they say they behave.
Trend 3: The Datafication of Our World
Humans generate massive amounts of data through our daily activities. Everything we do leaves a digital trace, so we’ve seen huge advances in the way data is stored. Futuristic advances like DNA data storage are on the horizon, but businesses must take aggressive steps to protect data and ensure privacy.
For business, all that data can be harnessed to create better products and services, as well as improve processes – but organizations need to develop smart approaches to turning data into insights, so they don't just drown in unused data. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an important tool for improving data literacy and helping businesses make sense of their data.
Trend 4: Artificial Intelligence
AI is developing at such an incredible pace that today’s intelligent machines are now capable of carrying out a wide range of tasks previously reserved for humans. As our interactions with machines become increasingly intelligent, there is the potential for AI to enhance a wide range of internal business processes, whether it’s through automation or helping human workers carry out their work and make decisions more effectively. Every business is going to have to get smarter.
Trend 5: Extended Reality
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term representing the spectrum of immersive technologies we have today – virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality – as well as those immersive technologies that are yet to be created. XR can help your business turn information into experiences, which has the potential to transform everything you do. I believe our experience of the world will increasingly take place in this blurred space between the real world and the digital one.
Trend 6: Digital Trust
Digital trust can be defined as the confidence users place in organizations to build a secure digital world. Users need to trust that transactions and interactions can take place safely, securely, and easily.
As blockchain and distributed ledger technology become more accessible to all organizations, they will bring many advantages for business, including securing data, removing intermediaries, increasing transparency, and supporting ultra-secure, frictionless, real-time transactions.
Trend 7: 3D Printing
3D printing allows us to rethink how we produce things by giving manufacturers the ability to make items that simply can't be produced with traditional methods. Manufacturers can also streamline the manufacturing process and easily create highly personalized products, all while eliminating waste and reducing costs.
This technical trend has the potential to transform manufacturing, particularly when it comes to the mass personalization of products. As consumers increasingly expect products and services to be uniquely tailored to their needs. 3D printing allows manufacturers to customize products and designs, even one-off requests and orders.
Trend 8: Gene Editing and Synthetic Biology
As we unlock more of the mysteries of our genes, we'll find new ways to understand and control them. Despite the ethical issues experts are grappling with, gene editing techniques like CRISPR will deliver some drastic leaps forward in the fight against disease, as well as improving plant health and even producing new, synthetic substances to replace fossil fuels, plastics, or animal products.
With all their power and promise, synthetic biology and gene editing may disrupt some of the world’s largest industries, including agriculture, chemicals, and healthcare.
Trend 9: Nanotechnology and Materials Science
Nanotechnology means controlling matter on a tiny scale, at the atomic and molecular level, so we can manipulate and move those atoms around to create new things. It’s a bit like construction on a tiny scale. We can use nanotechnology to manipulate and improve products and components.
I’m particularly excited about the potential for nanotechnology and materials science to help mitigate the climate crisis. As an example, scientists at Toyota have been testing materials for a battery that can fully charge or discharge in just seven minutes, making it ideal for electric cars.
Trend 10: New Energy Solutions
Renewable energy solutions, specifically wind and solar, have certainly grown in efficiency, affordability, and availability in recent years. Now two new energy sources – nuclear fusion and green hydrogen – are on the horizon. For sectors that rely on gas and coal, where wind and solar power aren't feasible, these new sources could be a vital and eco-friendly solution to their energy needs.
To learn more about these tech trends, visit my collection of bestselling books on business and technology.