Uber is a perfect example of how technology can change a business. As a concept, Uber did not do anything new. There were taxis and cabs long before Uber was invented. But what Uber did was to re-invent the traditional business of taxi hiring using technology. They started with making the process digital, but as the business grew, the focus shifted towards improving the experience of the customers and making the algorithms intelligent. Today, a 50mb taxi-hailing application on the phone holds an accumulation of several futuristic technologies, that an average human cannot apprehend.
Uber is one of the several thousand companies that have been able to use technology to their advantage, and like them, anyone with a vision can use technology to improve a lot of areas in the business. Technology can help a business in finding new customers, improving product quality, enhance customer experience, study consumer behavior, and digitize a lot of manual processes. However, without knowledge, technology can be a jargon. For businesses willing to employ technology or looking for revenue generation opportunities in the tech sphere, here are the latest technology trends that are going to change the business scene in 2020.
Telecom companies all over the world have been rooting the introduction of the 5G network from the last few years. They have been calling 5G as the future of communication for many good reasons. 5G network can support 1000 times more traffic of what the world has today, and deliver 10 Gb/s speed on individual devices with low latency and extremely great response time. The Singaporean government has planned to roll out commercial 5G network in 2020, and maybe with Huawei. The introduction of such high speeds will not just enable faster communication but also open areas of improvement for the businesses that rely heavily on the internet, like e-commerce stores.
Tesla has been creating commercially viable self-driven cars in the USA. As the rest of the world prepares itself to welcome such a technology, 2020 will see many major companies introducing their autonomous vehicles. Apart from a futuristic appeal, such vehicles promise to reduce congestion on the road and better commuting experience. SMEs and Start-ups in the entertainment section can benefit from such vehicles since more free people equates to more time available to indulge in sources of entertainment while commuting to work and other places. Apart from the entertainment niche, there will also be a rise in demand for inexpensive LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology and related apps and software. Aptiv entered Singapore in collaboration with Lyft and has proved its strengths as a leading software provider for autonomous technology. Start-ups can find inspiration in Aptiv’s success story and recreate the magic with other companies.
Cloud Computing was an excellent solution to decentralization and reducing dependency on a particular ‘platform’ for implementing technology. However, with time, businesses have realized that cloud computing has its own disadvantages, the biggest of which is a slow response time. Cloud Computing takes up a lot of resources, and getting an instant response from such a setup is next to impossible. Therefore, the need to revisit this technology was realized, and a new concept called edge computing was invented. Edge computing brings the data closer to the business. It keeps everything on edge by using a distributed and sophisticated framework. It responds faster to the business systems than ‘the cloud,’ as if everything needed to process the transaction was available right on edge, and hence gets the name. Edge computing can also be added to other technologies like the Internet of Things and drone technology to quickly solve significant problems with slow responses. For startups, not only can custom Edge Computing solutions be a new product to be added to the portfolio, rise in the IoT, and 5G network can mean a lot of incoming Edge Computing projects for the SME sector.
AI or Artificial Intelligence is one technology that is going to find takers in all areas. In fact, AI has been changing the business scenarios in certain areas already. Moreover, the government of Singapore has a National AI Strategy that will transform the country by 2030. There are several AI start-ups in Singapore that have already created excellent products. For instance, Shield, a risk analysis and end to end security product trains itself to identify fraudulent and hostile accounts and saves its clients from investing in the wrong places. Sadly, AI can also be a reason for job losses on a large scale. However, this is merely speculation at the moment.
Robotic Process Automation
Like AI, RPA, or Robotic Process Automation is another technology that is used to automate tasks. The technology has gained a lot of ground in the last couple of years, and it will find even more applications in 2020. RPA is used to automate repetitive tasks that involve logic-based decision making. Another reason why companies have started adopting RPA is because of the high efficiency that it promises. RPA has found application in tasks that include processing transactions, interpreting the output of the machines, scraping data, monitoring data, and other monotonous jobs that humans have been doing for several years. As per a case study by Everest Group, RPA can help the companies in saving up to 19% of their running cost, with several intangible benefits. SMEs have already started creating solutions for specific business niches. For instance, Gleematic, Singapore startups have created custom RPA solutions for banks, insurance, finance, HR, and logistics.
Long linked with Bitcoin, Blockchain has now found its way into more complex and practical scenarios of the world. Blockchain promises unmatched security that can be employed by any company or products that are looking for a comparatively inexpensive and reliable form of security. A blockchain is a chain of data to which any amount of data can be added but never deleted. Therefore, the system is always being fed and not reduced. Additionally, due to the nature of technology, blockchain cannot be controlled or regulated, making it the safest mode of providing transactional security. Sandblock, a startup in the travel space, is already banking upon the Blockchain capabilities by helping other companies build an automated loyalty program that pays virtual currency depending upon the actions of the users. Users can later redeem these coins against a catalog.
Internet of Things
IoT or the internet of things is a technology concept that involves man and machines, especially machines, working together to form a synchronous and harmonious work environment. IoT has been doing the rounds for a decade, but no impressive advancement has been made yet, except for DHL’s IoT tracking and monitoring system and Cisco’s Connected Factory. Both of these companies have used IoT to control and gather internal and external data, information on the movement of man and material, environmental changes, and everything else that can affect their business. Such implementations have laid the foundation for the other companies, specifically SMEs, to venture into the IoT space and mark their presence.
Voice-Enabled Search and Smart Speakers
Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Siri are entertaining. But, with the right software program implanted within these little chatterboxes or alongside them, maybe, it can be used to perform various tasks without having to lift a finger. The technology can be employed to control household appliances, help students with learning, remind patients about their medicines, make appointments, set reminders, and even assist with conferences. Combine voice search or voice commands with IoT, and the possibilities become endless. A simple project like Smart Home and a nation-wide project like Singapore’s Smart Nation are perfect examples of how IoT and voice-enabled technology are shaping the future.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality or VR produces an immersive experience for the user in a foreign environment, whereas Augmented Reality or AR enhances the environment even further to make it life-like. Both of these technologies have been used in creating video games, primarily. However, they have also found application in creating training programs for the army, space programs, and even sports. It can also be used for creating content for corporates, travel & tourism, education, etc. For instance, Singapore based Viziofly, is a known Interactive media production company. They make creative videos which can be used for training, marketing campaign, e-learning, and much more. The world is in the process of exploring the use cases for VR and AR, and with the niche still wide open, it is a perfect opportunity for SMEs to take a leap.
Start-ups Need to Gear Up for the Opportunities
Technology is an enabler if the business owners are forward-thinking. And whether the business is ready or not, technology is going to invade the nations and markets around the world. Understanding how to use technology to create solutions and generate revenue should be the center of the strategy for 2020. Exciting things are going to happen this year, and the Start-up sector can expect sudden movements and shift in the practices, giving rise to opportunities for growth.