Technology has completely changed the way entrepreneurs live and work over the course of SmartCompany’s five years – and the revolution won’t stop soon.
Since 2007, Apple has redefined the smartphone, desktops have slowly been cannibalised by portable touch-screen tablets, and a whole industry has been created out of thin air by developers creating advanced software for both of these devices.
So where is technology going next? SmartCompany has assembled a team of experts to gaze into the crystal ball and find out what technology will look like in 2017.
Happily, according to Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble, the technology future is a bright one for entrepreneurs.
“There has never been a better time to start a company because you can outsource everything that’s non-core: your ad marketing, your design, your eCommerce,” Noble says.
“What you’re left to do is focus on that core value proposition.
“If there’s one positive thing that’s still occurring in technology, it’s that it will enable a fantastic amount of innovation.”
Here are some of the trends our experts believe we’ll see develop over the next five years.
The death of the desktop
Tablets are already cannabalising sales from traditional desktop computers. But James Griffin, co-founder of online reputation management group SR7, says in five years’ time the category may not exist outside of a niche market.
“I think the traditional desktop will disappear, and be replaced with essentially a monitor and a keyboard.”
“You’ll have this device where you can plug whatever portable device you’re using, like a smartphone or tablet, into this fixture, and away you go.”
It should be pointed out this functionality exists - Motorola introduced it last year. But as Griffin sees it, it’ll be happening much, much more.
Search technology will become social
We’re already seeing how social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are impacting on search. But Griffin says social media and search are only going to become more intertwined.
“Our first port of call for search will no longer be just Google, but Facebook as well, and people will see a huge change in terms of how Facebook search is done.
“It’ll become that portal of search, and within that delivery of information will be info that has been vetted by our peers. So your news stream and your search options will largely be dependent on who you are friends with.”
That process is starting now, with Google recently announcing Google + profiles would impact search results.
“We’re starting to see a deconstruction between social media marketing and how businesses are using it,” Griffin says.
Everything is crystal clear
The iPhone 4 surprised everyone with its high-resolution screen, but Bjango founder Marc Edwards says that type of high-resolution will be the norm in five years’ time.
“Within five years high pixel density displays will be everywhere. Apple has done it, Android devices are doing it more, and most devices are now heading towards that high-resolution design.”
“Desktops, Macs, everything. There will be a lot of technical challenges that come with that, though.”
No more cubicles
As more technology is pushed to the cloud, Chris Ride, chief executive of IT services company Interactive, says the idea of having a dedicated desktop where you go for access to all your files will become antiquated.
“Five years is a pretty long time. I think that the traditional mindset of having a set work environment, that will be gone, and hotdesking will be the way that everything works.”
“You’ll have less segregation, fewer cubicles, and no real dedicated space where you need to go to do your work.”
Everything we do is social
Social networking has changed the way we communicate forever, but Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble says it’ll go even further and change every move we make on the internet.
“Social networking is not about visiting a wall, or a stream, or a home page. It’s often confused by the idea that you’re going to check your profile, but social media will tap into the power of your network and provide you with better information.”
“It will impact everything we do. You would expect if you’re making a decision about anything, that you would somehow tap into your social network.”
Noble says the way we use social media now is very limited, in terms of being restricted to just personal use. But in five years’ time, he says, that will change.
“Social media started as purely social, but it will work its way into enterprise. From there, social will work its way into the framework of everything we do.”
Everything is voice controlled
Apple didn’t invent the voice-controlled smartphone, but it no doubt made a large leap into the mainstream with Siri. Futurist Ross Dawson says that within five years we can expect many of our devices to be controlled with our voices.
“Apple is a significant landmark, but it’s an expression that these technologies have reached consumer maturity.”
“So while Siri is still in beta, we are on the cusp now of being able to use voice to control our phones, and other things as well.”
Bjango’s Marc Edwards agrees, saying that most of the innovation happening in the computing space at the moment centres on user interface design.
“We’ve moved from keyboard, to keyboard and mouse, then to multi-touch, and I think we’re approaching the space where voice technology becomes the norm.
“When the iPhone was released in 2007 the big thing was about typing on glass, and people thought that was horrible. But soon, people realised it’s not that bad. It’ll be the same again.”