Technology Trends That Will Define the Next Decade

Just as money is essential for the survival of any business, technology is a catalyst for its growth, and companies are constantly redefining and modernizing their operations to incorporate the latest technologies. If you want to remain competitive, it's important to stay abreast of what's coming next so that you can gear up for the future.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the biggest trends that we expect will have a major impact on technology over the next decade.

Big Data and Augmented Analytics

Big Data refers to incredibly large and complex data sets that are so massive that traditional data-processing software is incapable of managing them. With that being said, these massive volumes of data are incredibly useful because they can be used to address business problems we wouldn’t have been able to tackle before. To tap into this abundance of data, we use Augmented Analytics. Augmented Analytics harnesses NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML to automated and improve analysis processes across all stages of the data lifecycle—from collection, filtering, and sorting to analysis and interpretation.

This tech trend is often found in industries that benefit from processing large amounts of data quickly and efficiently, from the stock exchange and airline companies to smart cities, healthcare, and agriculture!

Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers

Blockchain is a system of recording, authenticating, and protecting information on a network of computer systems in such a way that it makes it virtually impossible to hack them. Each block contains multiple transactions, and these entries get recorded in every participant's ledger. This decentralized database, managed by several participants, is called a Distributed Ledger.

Blockchain Technology finds its application for storing entries in banking and finance, cryptocurrencies, healthcare, supply chain and logistics, digital property records, smart contracts, and much more. There is a multitude of benefits that blockchain technology offers, and we're just starting to tap into its potential outside of cryptocurrency.

An image of an outdoor concrete bench serving as a smart space that enables people to charge their devices.
Photo by Echo Grid on Unsplash

Smart Spaces

Smart Spaces are physical locations equipped with internet-enabled network sensors that make them 'smart'. Some great examples of this technology include buildings with temperature or maintenance sensors, motion sensors in cars, real-time heating and cooling technologies in auditoriums, and like in the picture above, public spaces featuring embedded charging stations that allow you to juice up your devices on the go.

Smart Cities are in active development as well! For instance, New York is upgrading its street lights to LED technology which allows lights to be adjusted or dimmed based on real-time data, and houses in Amsterdam are being provided with smart energy meters designed to reduce overall energy consumption.

This technology has a bright future in building more sustainable infrastructures as it helps minimize carbon footprints, so you can expect to see it popping up more frequently over the coming years.

Cloud Computing and Edge Computing

Cloud computing involves the delivery of computing services over the internet on a public cloud, and Edge Computing involves real-time data analysis in remote locations. The cloud helps individuals access data stored on other computers connected to the central cloud server, whereas edge computing processes time-sensitive data on phones and other smart devices.

These technology trends can be found in autonomous vehicles, smart grids, traffic management, cloud gaming, and so much more. Businesses specifically can utilize a combination of these technologies to transform and increase the effectiveness of their processes.

Wearables and Human Augmentation

Wearables and Human Augmentations refer to technologies that enhance human productivity or capability on a real-time basis. Although we're still discovering all of the ways we can harness this technology, fitness trackers, pacemakers, exoskeletons, and hearing aids are all great examples of it in action.

Development in this field is heading towards brain-computer interfaces that allow information exchanges between computers and the human mind, and what was previously considered science fiction may become a reality with human augmentation.

Digital Twins

A Digital Twin is a real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process, and this technology is altering the way that technologies like IoT, AI, and analytics are optimized.

Some great examples of this tech can be found at NASA, which is using digital twins to improve their spacecraft physical model simulations, and in healthcare, where band-aid sized sensors are placed on patients in order to send information about a patient's health to its digital twin, allowing healthcare professionals to better monitor their patients' health.

Digital twins can be deployed in less complex business scenarios using IoT sensors, thereby providing more benefits to different industries, especially in the manufacturing industry.

An image of a young, Asian girl holding the hand of a robot with a front facing display wearing a pink lei.
Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

Robots and Cobots

While robots act as a substitute for humans in performing dangerous or monotonous tasks, cobots or collaborative robots are designed to function alongside humans. Cobots are cost-effective and low maintenance, and they can also 'learn' on the job.

Thousands of manufacturing companies across the world currently deploy cobots to perform mundane tasks, and we can expect to see businesses both large and small using them to better automate their processes over the next decade.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is a branch of AI that deals with the interaction between humans and computers using natural language.

Language translation software like Google Translate, word processors like Grammarly, and Virtual Assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana all utilize NLP Technology. Over the coming years, further research in this field will help machines become better at recognizing and responding to human languages.

Chatbots and Voice User Interfaces

A chatbot is an easy-to-use software application used to conduct online conversations via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent. Voice user interface (VUI), on the other hand, is speech recognition technology that allows someone to interact with a computer, smartphone, or other device through voice commands. If you've ever received a pop-up on a website asking if you have any questions, you've interacted with a chatbot, and Alexa and Siri are mainstream examples of VUI technology in action.

Together, these technologies form an effective communication solution for any business, big or small, and they are the future of brand interactions and customer experiences.

Computer Vision and Facial Recognition

Computer Vision is a sector of AI that uses machines and deep learning to allow computers to essentially 'see' and analyze their surroundings, and Facial Recognition is an application of computer vision technology that allows devices to identify individuals by their facial features.

Computer vision technology is utilized by self-driving cars, VR gaming, in healthcare to detect cancer and tumors, and in agriculture to better manage the care of crops. Facial recognition has mostly been used for security purposes, but the healthcare industry is also finding it useful in diagnosing diseases that cause detectable changes in appearance. Similarly, small businesses can use this technology in theft detection, quality management, and customer tracking.

Digitally Extended Realities (XR)

Extended Reality is an umbrella term encompassing Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). It blends virtual worlds with the real world to create a fully immersive experience, and it has a wide range of applications in healthcare, education, entertainment, real estate, and marketing.

Although XR is widely known thanks to gaming apps like Pokemon Go and retailers like IKEA who use this technology to help shoppers see what furniture would look like in their homes, it has less frivolous applications as well. XR is being used to create hyper-realistic training tools for soldiers, astronauts, and healthcare providers too.

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Autonomous Vehicles

An autonomous vehicle, or a driverless vehicle, operates itself by performing necessary functions without human interaction. It has the ability to sense its surroundings, and a classic example of an autonomous vehicle manufacturer is Tesla.

Although Big Oil has a death grip on the automotive industry, we expect that their reign will ultimate come to an end and that vehicles will eventually be electric and have at least some autonomous features. While we often consider this technology for individuals, there are lots of commercially viable options for it as well. One day, you may very well see autonomous semi-trucks on the highway next to you!

5G

5G stands for the fifth-generation mobile network, and it is the latest global wireless standard. It enables machines, objects, people, and devices to connect almost instantly at higher multi-Gbps speeds, and it's taken other technologies like XR, critical communications, and IoT systems to a more functional level.

With its high speed and reliability, 5G will expand the mobile ecosystem into new realms and impact industries like transportation, healthcare, agriculture, shipping and logistics, and so much more.

Genomics and Gene Editing

Genome editing or gene editing is a technology that provides scientists with the ability to alter, add, or subtract particular locations of a genome, thereby changing an organism's DNA.

Gene editing can be used to modify physical traits like eye and hair color and holds promise for treating a wide range of diseases like cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes, hemophilia, and AIDS.

An image of a drone equipped with a camera taking flight.
Photo by Ben on Unsplash

Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

A Drone is an aircraft capable of flying without a human pilot on board, and they're mostly used in the defense sector. With that being said, there is a growing demand for drones as commercial toys and purveyors of operational efficiency. UAV refers to an autonomous or remote-controlled military aircraft installed with sensors, transmitters, and target designators that offer higher endurance and effectiveness.

Although the hype of drones in the commercial industry may have plateaued in developed markets, it's really taking off in developing markets in Asia and Africa. Huge corporations like Amazon and Google are testing ways to deliver packages with drones, and Facebook is using drones to provide internet connections in remote locations.

Machine Co-creativity and Augmented Design

Machine Co-creativity is AI's ability to assist humans in creating artistic pieces of music or paintings. Augmented Design is a subset of Machine Co-creativity and it specifically focuses on using AI with humans to enhance the design process.

Paris-based Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) is using this technology to create new works of art, and IBM's Watson is an AI-based music software commonly used by music producers. Augmented Design can also be used to improve the effectiveness of manufacturing processes, saving businesses time and money.

Digital Platforms

Digital platforms facilitate commercial interactions and exchanges between suppliers and consumers, and some popular examples include Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Amazon, Square, Social Finance, GitHub, and Waze. The success of digital platforms even have more traditional businesses without a digital presence considering transitioning their business models, and we don't expect this trend to peter off anytime soon.

Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience

A Cybersecurity or a Cyber Resilience Framework is a crucial component of every business. Today, companies are facing various data-security threats like phishing and malware. To protect customers' data and win their trust, companies should acquire the status of being cyber resilient.

By being cyber resilient, companies can continuously deliver the desired outcome, despite any cyber-attack. Thus, every company should focus on becoming cyber resilient. For example, Accenture has moved from being Cyber Secure to Cyber Resilient.

An image of a 3D printer in the middle of printing what looks to be a charcoal colored rocket.
Photo by ZMorph All-in-One 3D Printers on Unsplash

3D and 4D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing, is a low-technological process that involves the production of objects through layers. 4D printing, unlike 3D, enables objects to transform themselves over time. There are a multitude of different applications for this technology and home appliances, footwear, clothing, implants, valves, and medical devices like stents are just a handful of examples.

This technology will be especially transformative when it's combined with other trends like mass personalization.

Quantum Computing  

Quantum Computing is based on the principle of quantum physics, which creates new methods for super-fast computing and solves seemingly unsolvable problems.

Some of the most prominent technology companies engaging in quantum computing research include IBM, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, Nokia, D-Waves Systems, Mitsubishi, Intel, Airbus, HP, and Toshiba. This technology can contribute vastly to military affairs, aerospace designing, finance, intelligence, drug design and discovery, polymer designing, AI, Big Data search, and so much more.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA uses software to replicate repetitive processes that would otherwise be performed by a human operator, freeing them up to concentrate on more complex, value-adding work. This technology is part of a wider shift towards automation that will impact every industry, and it's effectively taking over more error-prone tasks like customer onboarding, reporting, and reconciliation of transactions across multiple industries.

A lot of organizations have started using RPA to streamline their PR and Finance operations to start, and Coca-Cola and Walgreens are among their ranks.

Mass Personalization and Micro-moments

Mass personalization, as the name suggests, refers to offering personalized products and services to the masses. Micro-moment, on the other hand, means responding to customer needs at the exact right moment. To achieve this, marketers have to be increasingly assistive in order to meet the real-time demands of their customers, and it is only possible with the help of AI, ML, and Big Data technologies.

Companies like VistaPrint, Warby Parker, and Nike are great examples of this technology in action.

Two manufacturing engineers discussing the operations of the machine in front of them.
Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

Nanotechnology and Materials Science

Nanotechnology involves the use of matter on an atomic or molecular level of fewer than 100 nanometers. Materials Science, a subset of Nanotech, is the study of the properties of solid materials like plastics, glass, and metals depending on their composition and structure. Scientists develop new materials by altering the composition of existing ones, and this technology has led to the development of bendable displays, bandages, and flexible solar panels.

This field offers many exciting opportunities for businesses to customize and improve the materials they are using for packaging.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI is the ability of machines to display human-like capabilities of reasoning, planning, learning, and creativity. AI uses ML, which focuses on accessing past data and semantics enabling it to learn and improve automatically, without human intervention.

Together, they provide a stimulus for other technologies like blockchain or IoT. Virtual assistants, personalized advertisements, social media feeds, search engines, navigation tools, language translation software, and the recognition and fighting of cyber threats are all powered by AI and ML.

Conclusion

As the world starts heading back into the office and back to work, focusing on business architecture is going to be more crucial than ever. Leaders will be defined not by the success of their business plan, but by the ingenuity of their technological choices.

If you are interested in adopting any of these new technology trends to grow your business but aren't sure where to start, Crowdbotics can help! We have an expert team of PMs, developers, and engineers to keep you and your business on the cutting edge of technology. Get in touch with one of our experts today for a detailed quote!

Originally published:

July 21, 2021