The Future Has Landed. Our top 6 tech predictions for 2015

The Future Has Landed. Our top 6 tech predictions for 2015
As a new year in business gets off to a roaring start, the media and analysts are making 2015 technology predictions left, right and centre. We thought we’d get in on the act, with our list of six top tech predictions to watch for small to medium businesses (plus one that’s a little left of field but no less interesting!), including how you might apply them to turbo-charge your own business.

Prediction 1: Transform your digital offering or get left behind.

Digitization is changing the way the world does business… faster than most businesses can keep up. In fact, the analysts at Forrester Research say 42% of the total global population will own a smartphone by the end of 2015. We predict that 2015 will be the year more businesses shore up their digital presence. With almost half the world keeping a powerful computer in their pocket, always-connected consumers will increasingly look to mobile technologies to make purchases. That means they’ll begin to expect instant information wherever and whenever they are. If your business doesn’t immediately understand where they are and what they want, you risk potential consumers searching elsewhere to may buying decisions. How you’ll use this technology in your own business: A recent report by Forrester argues that in 2015 forward-thinking businesses will therefore push harder to build digital business that ensure mobile customers enjoy a better experience of their brand. This will also include gearing campaigns to customer mobility rather than enterprise mobility and increasingly turn to mobile messaging apps for greater customer engagement. Read the full set of Forrester’s 2015 predictions to guide your business’s digital transformation.

Prediction 2: Can I see your digital purse?

If accessing information about businesses via mobile device goes mainstream this year, contactless payments will become far more prevalent.There’s already huge consumer demand for digital wallets48% of smartphone owners would rather use their phone to pay for goods and services, while 80% believe that the smartphone will replace their entire purse by 2020. PayPal, Google and Amazon have begun colonising the digital purse market, turning compatible smartphones into contactless cash cards. We predict more players entering the market this year, making it easier for small to medium businesses to give customers what they want. How you’ll use this technology in your own business: As consumers begin to ditch metal, paper and plastic for something a little more 21st century, it may be time to offer virtual payment options to your customers.

Prediction 3: Suri’s set to get a whole lot smarter.

Over the past year, we’ve seen voice activated virtual assistants like Apple’s Suri better able to mine data from our calendars, email and contact lists as well as the Internet. In 2015, we predict they’ll take another leap forward again. Smart Virtual Personal Assistants (SVPAs) will start to take residence in our smartphones this year. For example, Google has release a new app for Android phones that can automatically detect where you’ve parked your car, mark it on Google maps and guides you back to it of its own accord, without you even asking. How you’ll use this technology in your own business: “Marketers, credit card companies, banks, local government agencies, political campaigns, and many others will harness SVPAs to both deliver critical information and to better read and understand constituents,” predicts Harvard Business Review. That means you’ll be able to learn more about your customers and their buying habits – so you can give them more of what they want.

Prediction 4: Just-in-Time business training.

Long touted as the next big thing, low-cost yet highly professional short, specialised training courses will change the face of business education in 2015. Adaptive technologies will also allow students to learn at their own pace and be tested when they’re ready. Using real-time data to predict actionable, just-in-time items for both students and teachers will create more personalised paths to learning success. How you can use this technology in your own business: This is definitely great news if you’re a consultant or freelancer looking to diversify your business – or a business owner wanting to train up staff fast. In 2015 you’ll be able to upgrade your skills or learn new ones without signing up for long, time consuming courses. Experts are predicting immersive, on demand courses for even complex topics, like IT programming skills, will take just 8-10 weeks, allowing small business to adapt and adjust quickly to changing business conditions. Read more about just-in-time education.

Prediction 5: Everything is connected.

The Internet of Things (IoT) emerged as one of the leading business technology buzzwords last year. Put simply, it’s a way to describe the rapid proliferation of devices and objects now connected to the Internet. It’s been predicted that, by 2020, the number of devices connected to the Internet will exceed 40 billion. Expect to see more interconnected appliances, light bulbs and wearable technology this year, as well as artificial hearts, environmental sensors, cars and transportation systems connected online. We think IoT willcontinue to create an ocean of opportunities for business in 2015. The first small businesses to introduce new Internet technologies in niche markets may well be able to dominate their segments. How you can use this technology in your own business: It’s all about actionable intelligence. You’ll be able to mine data about customers’ homes, cars, and habits though built-in analytics. If your business relies on tracking assets, IoT could change the way you keep tabs on inventory, vehicles and other business property – or track how your staff are performing day to day.

Prediction 6: More accurate 3D printing is on the cards.

3D printing is another prediction we floated last year that’s still on our list for 2015 trends to watch. While we didn’t see 3D printers on every office desk by the end of last year, it is beginning to gain business traction as entrepreneurs capitalise on the speed and flexibility of the technology to produce customised products and small batches for customers. This year we’re predicting new players will enter the market, making 3D printing more affordable and easier for small to medium businesses. 3D printing can provide a competitive advantage for small businesses needing to produce rapid prototypes, individualised products and replacement parts. And then there’s the whisper of 4D printing in the pipeline… MIT’s Skylar Tibbits’ self-assembly lab promises explosive progress in this field in the near future. Think factories where product parts assemble themselves, or products adapt to users over time. Tibbits has floated the possibility of a 4D-printed chair that could become more comfortable over time, or become stronger at stress points, instead of breaking. It’s a brave new world… How you can use this technology in your own business: Australia’s first 3D printing factory has already opened in Melbourne and is offering its services printing parts for businesses, including education, mining and automotive companies. Local entrepreneurs and small businesses now have unprecedented opportunity to trial and refine new products without the burdensome costs that accompany large-scale production runs, at a typical cost saving of between 50 and 80%.

Prediction 7: The long shot. Brain-to-brain telepathic communication.

In what seems like pure science fiction, mind-sharing has emerged as a potential trend to watch in the near future. In September 2014, a team of US-led researchers successfully amazingly achieved a simple brain-to-brain communication between humans from India to France via wireless Internet technology. Pundits are predicting new ways to communicate will continue to appear. “We hope that in the longer term this could radically change the way we communicate with each other,” said Giulio Ruffini, a theoretical physicist and co-author of the research. How you might use this technology in your own business: Imagine being able to communicate with your employees brain-to-brain? Productivity would likely increase, and you could run your business from anywhere, making it much easier to keep track of what’s happening in your interstate or overseas offices while you’re sipping margheritas on the sand. We can but dream…

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